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Akron Law offers students a brand new option

In May 2015, Akron Law rolled out its new Spring Start program. In all 21 new law students began their studies in January 2016. First-year law student Justin Tjaden is among the initial group of Spring Start students. (Photo courtesy of Justin Tjaden).

Legal News Reporter

Published: April 13, 2016

For some students attending law school is a lifelong goal; in other cases their interest is sparked later in life.

Whatever leads to the decision, Matthew J. Wilson, dean at The University of Akron School of Law, said he believes once a student is committed to going to law school, he/she should be able to start as soon as possible.

That’s why in May 2015, Akron Law rolled out its new Spring Start program.

“We were the first to announce a spring start in Ohio,” said Wilson. “Most law schools in the country do not provide the added flexibility of being able to commence the pursuit of a juris doctor degree in January. We wanted to be responsive to both traditional and non-traditional students hoping to avoid an extended wait before starting law school,” he said.

“When I assumed the deanship at Akron Law, I had the idea of a spring start program,” said Wilson. “The law school already had day students, night students and part-timers who had such different schedules and yet they were extremely successful together in the same courses.

“So I talked to faculty and administrators about whether this might make sense for us. Everyone agreed it did not make sense to make a student who was ready for law school wait another eight months just because the student did not apply in time for a September start.”

In all 21 new juris doctor students began their studies in January 2016. Wilson said he anticipates even more students will take advantage of the program in the future.

First-year law student Justin Tjaden is among the initial group of Spring Start students.

Born and raised in Julesburg, Colorado, Tjaden holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and United States history from Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa.

“Law school was always kind of in the back of my mind but I took a couple of years off after my undergraduate degree to make sure I would be fully committed to law school,” said Tjaden.

He took the LSAT in June 2015 but did not get the results in time to enroll for the September 2015 semester.

“Once I knew I was ready I wanted to start right away,” said Tjaden. “I did not want to wait months to go to law school.”

Although he welcomed the chance to begin in January, he said it was not the reason that he chose The University of Akron School of Law.

“I first met Dean Wilson at a law fair in Boulder, Colorado in October 2015,” said Tjaden. “He was manning the booth which spoke volumes to me about what kind of school Akron Law was. Most of the other schools sent a representative to the fair.

“I scheduled a visit after the fair when I was called and told I was accepted,” he said. “This was also a big highlight about Akron, they physically called instead of just sending a letter.”

He said the main reason he chose The University of Akron School of Law was because of the atmosphere.

“I knew that I wasn’t going to be a number,” Tjaden said. “It’s clear from the moment you step on campus that Akron Law truly cares about its students.”

Tjaden said allowing students to start in the spring means they can secure jobs that much sooner.

“I give Akron Law credit for being willing to innovate,” said Tjaden. “Hopefully other schools will follow suit and adjust to what students need.”

For those students who want to apply for spring admission the deadline is Nov 30. Wilson said scores from the October LSAT exam are accepted. Requirements for admission and class offerings remain the same whether a student begins in January or August, he said.

Full-time Spring Start students have the option of a six-semester track or an accelerated courseload that would allow them to graduate in two-and-a-half years, Wilson said. “Part-time students could earn a juris doctor in as little as four years if they take courses during the spring, summer and fall semesters.

“Our Spring Start program is just another choice that we are providing to our law students as we adapt to meet their needs,” said Wilson.