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The college of law was established in 1964, with Willard Pedrick serving as the first dean. Over the next few years, Pedrick worked to find quality professors to teach at the school. The college opened its doors to a diverse mix of students in 1967, and the school received its accreditation the following year. It was renamed Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law in 2006, in honor of Justice O'Connor, who was a prominent attorney and political figure in Arizona before her appointment to the Supreme Court in 1981.
The O'Connor College of Law has several unique programs in place, including the Lodestar Dispute Resolution Program, the Law and Psychology Graduate Program, and the Academic Support Program.
Considered one of the best programs of its kind, ASU's Indian Legal Program is a major program at the school. If students are interested in participating in it, they can earn certificated in Indian law in addition to their J.D.s. There is also an LL.M. in Tribal Law and Government program available for those who have their J.D.s, as well as an M.L.S. (Master of Legal Studies) program for those who do not wish to practice law. Courses offered through the Indian Legal Program include "Gaming Law," "Indian Taxation," "American Indian Health Policy," and "Tribal Law and Government."
According to the school's website, the program was "designed to help train Indian lawyers and promote an understanding of the differences between the legal systems of Indian Nations and the United States. The program has become one of the best in the nation, educating students in Indian law and providing students with practical work experience."
Aside from the traditional J.D., the school is proud to offer several joint-degree programs. Like many schools, the O'Connor College of Law offers a J.D./M.B.A., but there are also two J.D./Ph.D. programs available in the areas of justice studies and psychology. The college has also partnered with the Mayo Medical School to provide interested students with the opportunity to obtain both a J.D. and an M.D. degree at the same time.
Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law is dedicated to helping the community. The administration encourages students to be active in the pro bono program. They feel it is important for students to learn the value of pro bono work and that that value must be instilled in them during their time in law school. There are 20 student pro bono organizations, including the Advocacy Program for Battered Women, the Disability Law Project, and the Homeless Legal Assistance Project.
According to its website, the school realizes that there are many "lower- and moderate-income individuals in our community who have unmet legal needs, and we offer our students the opportunity to help many of them. Our students embrace this opportunity, and together we are constantly striving to expand the breadth and depth of our pro bono activities."
According to the career services website, the school boasts a 95% graduate employment rate, based on statistics for the class of 2005. The average starting salary for graduates from the college of law is $47,460 in the public sector and $74,598 in the private sector. Graduates have gone on to work in law firms, government, business, and public interest organizations.
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