Message from Dean Pratt

Dear Washburn Law Community,

I write with renewed optimism as everyone at Washburn is now eligible to receive a vaccine and more businesses are opening and returning to normal operations. The campus is open, so if you are in town, please plan to stop by and see us.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 is still impacting us in some ways. We had to cancel our summer study abroad program in Osaka, Japan, because Japan is not allowing international travel there and does not plan to lift the travel ban by June. However, we do plan to go next summer, and thanks to Professor Craig Martin, we are going to open the 2022 summer study abroad to alumni. So, if you want an educational cultural experience next summer, please speak with Professor Martin about joining him in Osaka, Japan.

I want to thank our alumni Eunice Peters, Brian Kong, and Jared Maag, along with Kansas Representative Rui Xu for joining us for a panel discussion on the rise of violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans during the pandemic. We learned what the federal government response has been to this rise in hate against Asian Americans as well as what each of us can do to help. We were encouraged to take the active bystander training to learn how to help if we witness an incident of violence against another community member.

I am also thankful for the jurors who served in the Derek Chauvin trial. If you want to read my statement issued after the verdict, you may do so here. Jury trials are one of the fundamental rights guaranteed by our constitution to criminal defendants facing serious charges and to civil litigants meeting a specific damage threshold. Yet jury trials are disappearing in both civil and criminal cases as more civil cases settle and criminal defendants accept plea bargains. Next month, Washburn Law alumnus and soon to be retired federal court judge, Tom Marten, will represent the law school at a lecture at the Free University of Tbilisi, Georgia, as they explore "The Right to a Fair Trial," and the importance of civil jury trials. We are very proud to have Judge Marten represent the law school at this important international symposium, and we look forward to hosting him at Washburn Law this fall to share his work in this area with us.

Despite having to take the bar exam while masked and experiencing the threat of a deadly virus, our 2020 graduates had great success with an 88% pass rate for the Kansas bar. Our ABA reported pass rate (which is a two-year pass rate) was 91% this reporting cycle. I am so very proud of our 2020 graduates and wish them much success as they launch their career.

Speaking of launching careers, Dean Tammy King worked her magic during the pandemic to support our 2020 graduates. At the ABA deadline for counting students as employed, Washburn had 80% of its 2020 graduates in full-time, long-term bar required jobs. That made us number 1 in the region for job placement in full-time, long-term bar required jobs. Moreover, this outcome was achieved with only a two-person staff in our professional development office! So, when you see Dean Tammy King or Cindy Moyer, be sure to congratulate them and help me thank them for a job well done!

We have embarked upon Program Review to take inventory of our curriculum, to ensure that it is operating as efficiently as possible, and to ensure that we are being good stewards of the resources that are invested in Washburn Law. One change that we have already made is to reduce the frequency with which low-enrollment courses are offered to allow student demand for those courses to build. Consequently, most courses with single-digit enrollment will be offered every other year going forward rather than every year.

Commencement is right around the corner. We will be celebrating both our 2020 graduates and our 2021 graduates at an in-person ceremony at 2 p.m. on May 15 at the Petro Allied Health Center. Our Commencement speaker will be Washburn Law distinguished alumnus Pedro Irigonegaray, who will also be awarded an honorary doctor of law degree (LL.D.) for his career-long dedication to the rule of law and his courageous lawyering fighting to protect the civil rights of individuals from marginalized and vulnerable communities. Please join us on YouTube to hear Pedro address the classes of 2020 and 2021 and offer his advice to these new alumni.

Law School enrollment for fall 2021 is looking good. Applications are up 30% and the number of students who have paid a deposit and committed to Washburn Law is up slightly from this time last year. The Third Year Anywhere™ program is wildly popular with 74% of our applicants expressing interest in that new program. We are very excited to have our first full-year cohort of students in that program this coming academic year, and we thank many of our alumni for serving as supervising attorneys in this program. With your help, we can afford students an immersive practical experience prior to graduating. As always, I thank you for your support of our students.



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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.