The University of Arizona will become the first in the country to offer a Bachelor of Arts in law starting this fall.
College officials said the James E. Rogers College of Law will target those who want or need a legal education, but who do not need to become lawyers.
“The degree responds to a growing realization that there’s quite a bit of legal work that’s performed by non lawyers, and a lot of professions for which legal training is useful but for which a JD is not required,” said Brent White, associate dean of programs and global initiatives at the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona.
Students in the degree program will study in the UA's law college and in the School of Government and Public Policy, he said. It will allow more people to get a legal education without completing the three-year juris doctor degree after a bachelor's degree, he said.
"We're responding to times now where, increasingly legal work is being outsourced to non-lawyers, performed by non-lawyers and the realization that legal education should be available more broadly, and thus the undergrad degree," he said.
Students would get core training in law, which White described as “thinking like a lawyer,” with training in legal writing and reasoning. Upper division course work would concentrate in a specific area of study, White said.
Existing law college faculty will teach the undergraduate courses in the fall, White said. The faculty teaches about 450 law students and White said enrollment the bachelor’s law program would not be capped at a specific number.
"There's really no limit on the amount of students we can accommodate, and that's part of the point of the degree is to provide accessible legal education to a larger number of individuals," he said. "We expect that the major will be popular, we expect it will grow over the years."
"The idea is to provide access to legal education for those for whom a legal education would be useful in advancing their career," he said.