McGeorge students celebrate being the first class to graduate early
On Friday, December 18, University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law’s first class of Accelerated Honors Program (AHP) students celebrated their graduation from law school. The event was unusual not only because, in 2020, it had to occur on Zoom, but also because the cohort was the first in McGeorge’s history to graduate in two and a half years instead of the traditional three.
Students gathered with their friends and family, several of McGeorge’s deans, and Professor Emerita Dorothy Landsberg – who helped design the program and who interviewed this class of students.
The first group of graduates from the program - the only honors accelerated JD program in the country - are graduating a full semester ahead of their classmates who started at McGeorge with them in August 2018, giving them the dual benefits of one less semester of tuition and a head start on their careers. Students in the program were also guaranteed a free, seven-unit, summer externship during their first semester of law school.
“I have always been a very driven person and McGeorge’s Accelerated Honors Program was the perfect option for me. It allowed me to explore my legal interests while staying driven and keeping my foot on the gas,” said Maddy Orlando, the Chief Legislation Editor for University of the Pacific Law Review and one of the students in the inaugural AHP class. “I wanted a way to stand out to future employers and show my dedication, which is exactly what the AHP did for me.”
To be accepted into the program, the had to have particularly high undergraduate GPAs and LSAT scores, and each had to successfully navigate a one-on-one interview with a McGeorge faculty member such as Professor Landsberg. The quality of this group of students immediately shone through.
“I had the pleasure of teaching a first-year seminar on the Supreme Court to the inaugural class. They each picked a Supreme Court justice, wrote a paper, and made a presentation explaining how the justice’s background and philosophy influenced the justice’s decision-making,” said McGeorge Dean Michael Hunter Schwartz. “Their work was so good that I gave the class the highest average GPA I have given any class by a wide margin.”
This fall, McGeorge enrolled its third cohort of AHP students. “Almost a third of our admitted applicants express an interest in the program,” said Dean Schwartz. “I am excited each year to meet the talented and driven students who choose this path.”