Mount Mercy Joins Program with UI Law School

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Students going to Mount Mercy University now have the opportunity to finish undergraduate and law school in six instead of seven years.

Mount Mercy president Laurie Haman and UI law school dean Gail Agrawal speak with a student after signing an agreement adding Mount Mercy to the law school's "3+3" program.

On Tuesday the University of Iowa Law School added the university to its list of thirteen partners in the "3 + 3" program.

The program allows students to use their final year of undergraduate study as their first year of law school.

"It's an advantage for those students what are truly dedicated who know that law school is the path for them to kind of get on to their professional education more quickly," said Gail Agrawal, dean of the UI law school.

The program has been in place at the UI for only two years, but it's not uncommon. Many years ago the standards of legal education for law schools allowed for these programs. But Agrawal said those standards changed a number of years ago and were recently changed back, allowing the UI to put the program back in place.

Agrawal said they chose to only partner with Iowa schools.

"The reason we partner with schools throughout Iowa is so that we can form a relationship with them and talk with them about the curriculum," she said. "We can interact with students who might be interested in law school and give them information about what's involved in studying law and being a lawyer. Of course, their preparation as undergraduates is entrusted to their undergraduate institution and we are selective about our partners or the school's we pick so that we know the institutions were with well prepare their students for law school. "

Partnering with schools in Iowa helps students get to know the law faculty, as well.

"We could partner with in a formal way, form relationships with, get to know their faculty, so that we would have a pipeline of faculty advisors who could say to us 'yes this student is ready and maybe they could also say 'no this student might be interested but they would be better off finishing their four years of undergraduate before they start law school," Agrawal said.

The benefit of working with smaller schools like Mount Mercy is that faculty already generally have strong relationships with students.

Mount Mercy University President Laurie Haman said this will help a variety of their current and potential students who are sure they want to go into law-- whether it be a student coming into college or coming back.

"It's mostly for a student who is on the fast track they're a very bright student, a very motivated student, know what they want to do and for that student we shouldn't have barriers for them we should make sure that all of the things that they want to do can be done in the best way possible and we think that this partnership allows us to do that."

The program has shown success-- this year is the first year a student from the program has attended Iowa as a first year law student.