Pre-Law Minor

The Pre-Law minor provides an excellent foundation for students who plan to attend law school. It is designed to introduce students to the study of law and the judicial process and at the same time to provide an orientation to the law which is more general than that of most law schools. This minor is highly recommended for students who want to enter law school, to prepare for paralegal careers, or to seek careers in criminology.  Students who elect this minor may anticipate legal careers in (1) government and large businesses, (2) law firms, (3) individual or partnership practice of civil law, (4) trial practice, including criminal law, and (5) teaching. The minor is designed to introduce students to the study of law and judicial process and also provides a general orientation for law school.

Since very few law schools provide information about the political, economic, societal, and psychological environment in which the law exists, this background must generally be acquired prior to or after law school. The Pre-Law minor and the liberal arts education are intended to give students the analytical skills and substantive background in those courses which will most likely contribute to the student’s development.

Upon admission, each student works with a pre-law advisor, who helps the student develop a strategy for selecting courses, identifying an appropriate departmental major (degree program), and navigating the law school application process.

Like most of the better pre-law programs, SMWC’s program allows students to major in virtually any field of study while taking a number of courses which will help prepare them for the rigors of law school. While some majors–history, philosophy, political science–are traditionally considered preparation for legal studies, students are admitted to law school from virtually every academic discipline.  In recent years, pre-law students have majored in diverse fields. Students are encouraged to adopt a major which will serve their career goals, often combining a traditional liberal arts discipline with courses oriented towards future legal study and work.

Pre-Law Minor

All pre-law students meet with the pre-law adviser.  Students plan their curriculum to include a mixture of courses in the student's major plus an array of pre-law courses suitable to the particular student's academic needs and career plans Pre-law students ordinarily take the Law School Admission Test in the summer between their junior and senior years, at which time they also register for the Law School Data Assembly Service.

In addition to this list of courses focusing on law-related topics and skills, students planning on attending law school are strongly encouraged to take elective courses in the humanities and social sciences, including - literature, philosophy, history, sociology, economics, psychology, and political science Pre-law students often take courses in the natural sciences and mathematics to strengthen their analytical reasoning Pre-law students interested in going into international law or immigration law are encouraged to take extensive course work in at least one of the foreign languages offered at the college.

Required Courses (19 credit hours)

Students have the choice between GO 2125 and GO 318

Surveys the United States federal structure of government and the political processes which undergird and mold this structure. Emphasizes contemporary issues, policy-making and the relationship of the United States system to those of other modern governments.

Studies the constitutional basis, organization and workings of state and local government. Emphasizes the interrelationships of states and their political subdivisions and the functioning of state and local politics.

Study of the origin and development of the United States Constitution from the eighteenth century to the present; shows how the era and social and political conditions affected constitutional evolution; judicial appointments and their impact on Supreme Court decisions which shape contemporary and future society.

The study of law and the legal system. Introduces case law, analysis and ethical consideration in our world. Provides an overview of the courts, civil and criminal procedure, torts, contracts, property law and the individual's rights. An excellent course for any student because of its practical, universal content and for students who are interested in attending law school. Fulfills general studies requirement.

Students gain an understanding of legal resource materials and basis techniques of legal research through federal and state case law, statutes, encyclopedias, administrative material, Shepards and other sources. Extensive hands-on exercises in the law library. Excellent for students planning to attend law school. Course fee. Prerequisite: PL200.

Students learn skills which will prepare them to assist attorneys in all activities relating to civil trial practice from pretrial to trial, appeal and enforcement/compliance procedures. Students draft documents, develop discovery plans, conduct discovery, investigate and develop trial notebooks. Prerequisites: PL 200, PL 231.

The PL 395 Junior Seminar course will introduce students to the various careers existing for students who have some pre-law and will also aid those students who wish to pursue study at the graduate or law school level. Topics include preparing for graduate or law school admission and also inventory of careers open to those with the baccalaureate degree and an interest in law.

Pre-Law Career Opportunities

Most pre-law students at SMWC pursue graduate work soon after graduating. While most continue their education towards the juris doctorate (J.D.) degree at an accredited law school, others have gone on to graduate work in their major discipline. The pre-law training, in conjunction with a traditional academic discipline, has prepared SMWC graduates well for a wide range of career opportunities.

Careers

Law school affords its graduates many different career opportunities, not all related to legal practice. Students who graduate from law school find employment in a variety of fields such as:

  • academia
  • banks
  • business
  • corporations
  • government
  • medical
  • military
  • politics
  • private practice
  • public interest industries

In addition, there are many specialty areas within law, including, but not limited to:

  • civil rights
  • corporate and securities
  • criminal
  • education
  • labor and employment
  • environmental and natural resources
  • family and juvenile
  • health
  • immigration
  • intellectual property
  • international
  • probate and trust
  • real estate
  • sports and entertainment
  • tax

Famous People Who Majored in Law

  • Mahatma Gandhi
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton
  • Molly Sims
  • Gerard Butler
  • Diane Sawyer
  • Judith Sheindlin
  • Andrea Bocelli
  • Christine Lagarde

Can my criminal record hinder my career in pre-law?

Any sort of criminal or disciplinary violation must be explained on a law school application. Minor brushes with the law, such as having many speeding tickets, may need to be explained. Major problems, such as felonies and some misdemeanors, can prevent you from being accepted and/or taking the bar exam, so make sure you stay out of trouble!

How can a Liberal Arts Degree help me?

Our liberal arts curriculum, with its emphasis on critical thinking and effective oral and written communication, will help you hone the skills you will need to perform well on the LSAT, secure admission to law school, and succeed in the legal profession. More

What is required for Law School Admission?

Admission to any given law school is based upon several factors decided by each law school. However, the most important considerations for all law schools are graduation with a bachelor's degree from an accredited undergraduate college or university, grade point average (GPA), Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores, and the applicant's personal statement.

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For More Information

Please contact Kathryn L. Myers, kmyers@smwc.edu (812) 535-5235, pre-law advisor.