Renewed Discussion About a Law School in Tacoma

We're once again hearing conversation about the possible return of a law school to Tacoma. We had a law school at the University of Puget Sound - until Seattle University bought it and moved it to Seattle in 1999.

From time to time since then we have found ourselves in conversation with someone who thinks a law school is just what Tacoma needs right now* (*right now being any time in the last 15 years). We've also heard just the opposite - that we need more students with law school loans like we need more holes in our streets.

Last spring the conversation gathered a little more steam when a steering committee was formed to explore in greater depth the idea of opening a law school as a part of UWT. The idea was for a branch of the UW Seattle law school to be located here. The branch would start small with just 30 students in the first class. The cost was estimated at more than $2 million. Not cheap, but cheaper than a starting a whole new law school from the ground up.

The University didn't indicate that it was committed to the idea, and it definitely didn't have more than $2 million just lying around either. They did indicate that as an "urban-serving university" the school was open to being responsive to working with the community to satisfy demand for higher education programs.

The latest in the ongoing conversation comes from a report from The News Tribune that Washington State may be offer $400,000 towards the creation of a Tacoma branch of the UW law school at the request of 28th Legislative District Senator and UPS Law School grad Steve O'Ban.

From the sound of it, UW isn't pushing particularly hard for the new law school branch - especially on the Seattle end. Whether they are, or are not, it certainly appears that they're letting the public drive the conversation.

A core group of lawyers and others - including O'Ban, and the steering committee - seem to be pretty enthusiastic in their support, but is that enough? Is anyone else ready to get out and push?

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