University of Oregon Law School
University of Oregon Law School (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

University of Oregon law students may soon have the option to complete their 3L years in Portland—110 miles from the main campus in Eugene.

The law school has announced plans to launch its Third Year in Portland Program in 2015. Spending their final year in the state’s largest legal market will give students improved access to externship and employment opportunities, said professor Mohsen Manesh, spearheading the initiative with professor Carrie Leonetti.

“We’ve done formal and informal polling of our students and alumni, and more of our alumni are in Portland than anywhere else in the world,” Manesh said. “Being in Portland and being around the legal community there, such as bar association events or having lunch with attorneys, is hard to facilitate when you are based in Eugene.”

The initiative was modeled on a similar program at the University of Idaho College of Law in Moscow, which allows 3Ls to take classes and externships in Boise, about 330 miles away. Idaho administrators have asked state lawmakers for permission to expand that initiative to include 2Ls. Other law schools allow students to work and study in Washington for a semester or two.

“We looked at the University of Idaho and the success they’ve had with their Boise program as we were thinking about how to provide more opportunities for our students in Portland,” Manesh said.

Oregon already offers as many as three classes per semester for students completing externships in Portland. Relatively few have participated, in part because it is difficult to move for just three months, Manesh said.

Presuming the American Bar Association approves Oregon’s planned satellite campus, as many as 30 students would take a full complement of classes, or both an externship and classes. Administrators plan to offer at least 28 credit hours per year.

“The students will benefit greatly from exposure to the culture, climate and legal professionals located in this thriving metropolitan area,” dean Michael Moffitt said.

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