Student LEADers on fast track to law degree

Campanile Strip

In first grade, when some kids were dreaming of being a veterinarian or a superhero, Sam Wagner already knew she wanted to be a lawyer.

By her senior year, she was already gaining experience in the legal profession as an intern for an attorney in Paola. And it was through that experience that she learned about an opportunity at the University of Kansas to get on the fast track to a legal career.

This year, Wagner is among a group of 20 freshmen in the new accelerated program to complete bachelor’s and law degrees at KU in just six years. This is the first year for the program, called LEAD (Legal Education Accelerated Degree).

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the School of Law collaborated to create the program.

“This program is a great fit on so many levels,” said Larry Fillian, director of undergraduate services in the College. “Several students come to KU knowing they want to go to law school and most of them complete majors in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. This provides a fantastic opportunity for them to get a head start and keeps more of our talented students in state.”

Students who are accepted into the program complete a bachelor of arts degree in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and a juris doctorate in the School of Law. In their fourth year, students begin law school classes full-time, which count toward both the bachelor’s degree and law degree requirements.

Other benefits of the LEAD program include scholarships through all six years, additional advising, and professional development experiences such as visiting with Kansas Supreme Court members or private practice attorneys in Kansas City.

Applications for the next class of the LEAD program are open through Dec. 1. Visit to learn more.

Perspectives from the first LEAD class


Sam WagnerSam Wagner, freshman from Paola, majoring in American studies.
She’s interested in juvenile defense or adoption law, particularly in the United States. “I have to look at America as a whole and understand the bigger picture. I think [American studies] gives me the ability to see America for what it is.”


Connor BirzerConnor Birzer, freshman from Ellinwood, majoring in communication studies. He’s interested in government and public policy, perhaps working on a campaign. “Law involves complicated communication. If I’m in a public or government service job, I’ll have to be able to communicate with a lot of people on different subjects.”


Nate CrosserNate Crosser, freshman from Olathe, majoring in economics. He’s interested in constitutional law. “The implications are so broad. When there’s an important court decision, it affects all of us, not just the company or groups involved.”


Addie TungateAddie Tungate, freshman from Coto de Caza, Calif., majoring in history. She’s interested in criminal law. “History is going to be great preparation for law school, in particular because of the volume of reading and information you have to take in and remember. It also helps me understand the cause and effect of important events.”