— By Jay Simmons, President of Simpson College and Allan Vestal, Dean and Professor of Law, School of Law, Drake University
Simpson College and Drake Law School have joined together to create a new opportunity for our students. Under our new 3+3 pathway, students can complete both a Simpson undergraduate degree and a Drake law degree in six years, all at a substantial reduction in expense.
A student in the 3+3 pathway will spend their first three years at Simpson, and their last three years at Drake. They will earn about three-quarters of the 128 credits for an undergraduate degree before they start law school in the fall of the fourth year. Credits from the first year of law school will complete their undergraduate studies, allowing them to receive an undergraduate degree on schedule at the end of the fourth year.
One of the primary goals of the 3+3 pathway is to reduce the cost of higher education, a priority for both Simpson and Drake Law. Taking one year off the normal seven-year progression will significantly reduce student loan balances and get participants into law practice one year earlier. To further reduce the cost, Drake Law has committed special scholarships for all participants in the 3+3 pathway with Simpson.
The 3+3 pathway between Simpson and Drake Law will benefit our students by meaningfully reducing higher education costs. The pathway will provide Simpson students another enhancement: the opportunity to take a class, An Introduction to American Law, at Drake Law as part of their undergraduate studies. An institutional enhancement will be increased collaboration between our respective faculties.
With the 3+3 pathway, Simpson and Drake Law are joined in an innovation in legal education. But it isn’t the first time we’ve joined together to innovate and reduce costs. That episode took place almost 140 years ago.
Drake Law led an itinerant existence in its early years. Founded in Des Moines in 1865, the law school operated in the capital city for two years. It was then removed to Iowa City, where it operated until 1875. At that point, all of the faculty members resigned, intending to move the law school back to Des Moines. Discussions with the Simpson leadership resulted in the formation of the Iowa College of Law as the Law Department of Simpson Centenary.
Simpson’s law school was located in Des Moines, not Indianola. Reportedly, a desire to lessen the cost of legal education to students resulted in an innovative course of studies – students learned the law through listening to lectures and not through reading books. Simpson’s law school operated five years, until 1880, when the law faculty and Simpson cordially parted company. It seems the distance between Indianola and Des Moines was too great for the two academic communities to operate together easily.
Of course, both Simpson and the law school went on to fine futures. Simpson never again sought to add a law school. The next year, in 1881, Simpson’s former law school became a founding part of Drake University.
So now we are once again joining together to innovate and reduce the cost of a legal education for our students. It is an exciting partnership that holds great promise.