Zach Eichner began his journey at RIT as a biotechnology major, but after taking public policy courses, he realized he might be better suited to another field. When he learned about the newly developed Accelerated 3+3 Law Program partnership between RIT and Syracuse University (SU), he said a light bulb went off in his head.
“I started thinking that this is something I want to do for the rest of my life, something that will bring me a different challenge every day,” Eichner said. “The legal system has a huge influence in shaping policy and determining how people are actually affected. It is not an easy task, but the 3+3 program opened the door and gave me the confidence to start my legal education.”
Eichner is graduating from RIT with a bachelor’s degree in public policy this month while completing his first year of law school. He was the first student in the program to transfer to SU, but the next batch of RIT law students is following close behind and is scheduled to begin his first year of law school in the fall.
RIT’s College of Liberal Arts has partnered with SU’s College of Law to offer this accelerated 3+3 program. The biggest benefit of enrolling in the program is that it allows students to complete both a bachelor’s degree and a juris doctorate in six years, as opposed to the traditional seven-year schedule.
Jennifer Gaylord is a practicing attorney who joined the College of Liberal Arts in 2022 as the coordinator of pre-professional studies and academic advisor for students in the 3+3 program. According to Gaylord, the time and resources saved by participating in the program, combined with the personalized advice and support students can benefit from, are invaluable.
“Students are guided by an experienced attorney through course selection, internship and experiential learning opportunities, LSAT preparation and much more when part of the program,” Gaylord said. “Applying to multiple law schools is a grueling process. Because the student is participating in the 3+3 program, he will not have to spend valuable time, energy and money applying to a bunch of different law schools and paying additional application fees.”
Third-year Kate Hickey is one of the students headed to SU in the fall. Unlike Eichner, Hickey knew she wanted to practice law from an early age thanks to a pink-clad pop culture icon.
“I first had the dream of becoming a lawyer at the age of 10 after watching Legally blonde. It may seem silly, but in my experience, big dreams usually have humble beginnings,” Hickey said.
Hickey, of Halifax, Mass., originally planned to earn a degree in international business before pursuing law. After the 3+3 program was announced, she turned around and ended up double majoring in international and global studies and public policy so she could participate in the program.
Now, she is grateful to be moving to a new campus with a group of students with whom she has already formed connections and a community.
“For me, the most rewarding part of participating in this program is meeting people from my cohort. Law school in itself can be very daunting, and then add to that the stress of moving to a whole new school, but our sense of community will follow us to our new campus,” Hickey said.
John Smithgall, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts, has overseen the development of the program since its inception. He shared that seeing the first graduate of the RIT program, as well as sending the first full cohort to SU in the fall, is inspiring.
“I am so impressed with the professional goals of our 3+3 students. Many are interested in social justice issues and plan to use their legal studies to be agents of change to address inequality, discrimination, and oppression. Ambitious goals like this make me hopeful for the future,” Smithgle said.
Go to the program website to learn more about the 3+3 program and entry requirements.