Message from Dean Pratt

Happy New Year Washburn Law Alumni and Friends!

With all the challenges 2020 brought, we are looking forward to a return to normalcy in 2021. I want to start by saying thank you to everyone who expressed condolences to me on the passing of my sister Deborah. Her abrupt death was a stark reminder of just how deadly this virus can be.

Washburn University started the semester with remote instruction because the Shawnee County Covid-19 Scorecard indicated that the virus was at an uncontrolled level here in Shawnee County. We wanted to do our part to bring the cases down, so we began the semester online. The University reevaluated the scorecard and determined that there was sufficient improvement to plan to resume in-person instruction with masks and social distancing starting February 1, 2021. With the vaccine roll-out, we are planning for a return to normal for the Fall 2021 session with no masks or social distancing.

We are planning for the groundbreaking for the new law school building to occur in June. The new building designs are absolutely beautiful, but I am most proud of the integrated technology that we are planning for the building.

  • Classrooms and conference rooms will have lecture capture and live streaming capability with assistive listening integrated into each room to aid those who have hearing impairments to hear all discussions clearly.
  • Dual video screens with edge blending will be installed in large classrooms to ensure maximum visibility for all occupants of the classroom.
  • The Heath Family Appellate Courtroom will have all of the standard classroom technology plus a technology control room, and translation technology that will allow us to host international conferences and translate the speaker's remarks in real-time, so that audience members have the option to hear the speaker's comments in their native language.
  • Study rooms in the library will be equipped with Air Media technology that will allow students to wirelessly connect their laptops to a video monitor in the study room so that all members of the study group have a good view of the material being examined.
  • Students will have card-swipe access to the building and the law library for studying 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Finally, the building will have security cameras both inside and outside to help ensure the safety of all building occupants.

I am confident that our alumni and friends are going to be very proud of this building, and I look forward to seeing many of you at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Presently, applications to the law school are up along with the national trend that shows applicants to law school are up about thirty percent. It is too early to tell whether applicants are merely applying early in the cycle or whether we will end the cycle with an increase in applicants. Nonetheless, for now, admissions is looking great which is good news since we are unable to host in-person recruiting events for prospective students due to the pandemic. If you know someone who in interested in law school, please send them our way. We are happy to talk to students who are merely thinking about the possibility of law school as well as students who are committed to becoming lawyers.

Karli Davis and I are planning our first in-person alumni event for early August. We will travel to Missoula, Montana, for Professor Roger McEowen's annual ag tax law seminar plus other CLE, hiking, and enjoying each other's company. If you want to plan a safe get away with a group of your classmates, plan to join us in Montana in August. In the interim, please continue to visit with us at one of our virtual alumni sessions on Zoom.

We have some bittersweet news to share. Professor Linda Elrod, whom we all know as Cricket, has announced that she plans to retire. Because Professor Elrod's family law program is such an integral part of the law school's curriculum, we have secured permission from the VPAA for her to have a three-year phased retirement which will afford us time to plan how we will deliver our family law program in a post-Cricket era.

It will be three years before we host a retirement celebration for Cricket, but we are hosting a retirement celebration for Dean Tom Romig and Professor Aïda Alaka sometime in June. We have not yet decided if it will be in-person or online, but either way, please plan to join us in June to celebrate the careers of two of our colleagues who have given so much of themselves to Washburn Law.

Thursday, February 4, 2021, is our annual Day of Giving. This year we have decided to raise funds for a student to work for Kansas Legal Services in a Third Year Anywhere™ externship placement. Kansas Legal Services is on the front lines of creating access to justice for low-income Kansans and we want to do our part to help support that mission. We ask that you look for our Day of Giving emails or visit on February 4 and make a gift to support this effort. No gift is too small, so whatever you can do to help will be appreciated.

Thank you for your continued engagement with the law school and for your support of our students. I wish us all a healthy and happy 2021!


Carla Pratt

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Photograph: Dean Carla D. Pratt.

Carla D. Pratt

Dean Pratt talks about the impact education has had on her life and how law has a role in shaping higher education (3:43 minutes).
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Dean Pratt talks to "TopLawSchools" about Washburn Law's student life, academics, admissions process, career opportunties, employment outcomes, and more.