The Association of American Law Schools and the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) do not recommend any specific undergraduate major or program for students planning to study law.

While they consider the prescription of particular courses unwise, the LSAC does believe that the Council can call attention to the quality of undergraduate instruction it believes fundamental to the subsequent attainment of legal competence. The 3 general aspects of education stressed are:

Interpretive and expressive mastery of language:

Language is the lawyer’s primary tool. Courses (in English or other disciplines) that stress sound writing, or oral discussion, presentation or debate, and courses (for example, in foreign language or linguistics) that illuminate the workings of language are recommended.

Critical understanding of human institutions and values:

Legal counsel and advocacy are among the most powerful influences shaping institutions and affecting the quality of lives lived within them. Hence, courses (in history, economics, politics, or sociology/ anthropology, for example) that illuminate institutions’ structure, functions, and (therewith) potentials are recommended. Attorneys’ professional influence is matched by their moral influence, since legal questions inevitably implicate fundamental notions of dessert, equity and fairness. Courses (in religious studies, philosophy, or psychology, for example) that examine the sources and meaning of normative values are therefore recommended. Sound and creative thinking.

Above all, attorneys are problem-solvers and advisors in unendingly various, complex circumstances that demand rigorous, comprehensive analysis (grasp the law and the facts), sensitivity and imagination (know the people), and sound practical judgment (match the end desired to the limits imposed by law, facts and people). Courses (in mathematics, logic, or natural science, for example) that promote rigorous analytic thinking or creative synthetic thinking are recommended. (For prospective law students, the LSAC recommends, by name, some study of accounting, since accounting shapes the language of business.)

In sum, legal studies demand liberal artistry of the kind Saint Mary’s College promotes throughout its curriculum, but perhaps most directly in the Integral program.

The College’s pre-law advisor is located in the Career Development Center, Ferroggiaro Hall. Information on, and advice about, specific law schools and the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) are available at the Center.

 

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