law-schoolOn Monday, the University of Arizona reported that it will be “the first major research university to offer a Bachelor of Arts in Law” beginning in the fall of this year.

The initiative is a novel approach to serving an undergraduate community that seems less and less inclined to pursue a legal career, but which may find legal training a great benefit.

According to the school, the degree is “the product of a partnership between the James E. Rogers College of Law and the School of Government and Public Policy in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.”

In January, I got a brief preview of the new initiative when I interviewed UA Law School Dean Marc Miller for our magazine Q&A. At that time, the proposal remained unannounced as it was still in process to garner Board of Regents approval. Monday’s announcement indicated it had cleared that hurdle.

Why a B.A. in Law? As Dean Miller puts it:

“A Juris Doctor is a highly valuable degree and there are roles that only lawyers can serve. But training a broader range of students will serve society, open careers in areas of substantial regulation, respond to changes in technology and the forces of globalization, and invite opportunities for the delivery of new and more accessible legal services.”

The degree will require core courses taught by the university’s School of Government and Public Policy. Then, students can take their core law courses, taught by full-time law school faculty.

University of Arizona Law School logoThough the university intends to train students to “think like a lawyer,” the intended consumer of the new bachelor’s degree may not be headed toward a law school J.D.

Reports the university, “Possible careers open to graduates of the program include corporate compliance, city planning, water resources management, tax advising, business management, trade, banking and finance, conflict resolution, healthcare administration, contracts, government, human resources, policy analysis, and legal technology consulting.”

Those who opt for law school after graduation may find their way made easier by a “3+3” program, which will allow certain students to complete their B.A. and their J.D. in six years.

More news on the initiative is here and here.

What is your thinking on this initiative? Do you predict it will be a popular choice for undergrads? Do you interact with clients in positions that touch on legal issues whom you wish had some legal education? Would such a degree fill that need?