Senate budget confirms $400,000 in seed money for UW Tacoma Law School

In mid-March, state lawmakers confirmed $400,000 in seed money funding for UW Tacoma to start a law program. This would be the first law school in the South Sound area since 1999, when the University of Puget Sound evidently sold theirs to Seattle University.

The $400,000 is included in the Senate budget, and is meant to be a portion of the amount required to develop a law program. It is hoped that private donations will generate the rest of the money needed. To initiate the program that a local committee and late Chancellor Friedman hoped for, the cost would be roughly $2.25 million. A law school extension as such would tentatively have accreditation as part of the UW Law School, and begin with evening classes, thirty students and five instructors.

However, these plans are far from becoming reality, with the influx of seed money only the first step in garnering the financial aspect of developing a UW Tacoma law school. Lead budget writer Representative Ross Hunter told the Tacoma News Tribune, “They should not (use the state money) until they actually get the private money…at that point they want to actually create a self-sustaining law school there. I feel that’s an entirely reasonable thing to do.”

It isn’t clear if gaining accreditation for Tacoma as an extension of the UW Law School would be feasible, considering that the same News Tribune article stated that UW Seattle had “distanced itself” from the proposal for seed money.

Support for including the $400,000 is led by Senator Steve O’Ban, who said in a statement the program would “do more than just provide local students with more opportunities to follow their dreams” and that it would have “the added benefit of encouraging business development and job growth in the greater south Puget Sound region.”

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