If you are thinking about becoming an attorney or simply want to know more about the law, then you are encouraged to become a part of Bellarmine University’s Pre-Law program. The aim of the program is to enhance the training of its undergraduate students who are interested in pursuing law school and a successful law-related career.
Undergraduate students are surprised to learn there is no specific “Pre-Law” major or minor at Bellarmine, as with most other colleges. What is required in Bellarmine’s Pre-Law program is that the student develops certain basic skills essential to the practice of law. Those core skills include analytic problem-solving, critical reading, written and oral communication, listening, general research, task organization and management. Components of Bellarmine’s Pre-Law program include Pre-Law advising, curriculum analysis and suggested course selection, assistance with the selection of law schools, and preparation for the Law School Admission Test.
Although law schools do not specify which major a Pre-Law student must select, undergraduate degrees in political science, philosophy, criminal justice studies, history, psychology, communication, English, business administration, and economics are typical Pre-Law choices. Regardless of your major, law school advisors suggest taking as many writing and reading-intensive courses as you can. Also, because the LSAT has a strong focus on logic, Bellarmine Pre-Law students are encouraged to take a course in logic (Phil 302) prior to law school application.
Why Bellarmine Pre-Law?
Acceptance to accredited law schools is competitive, so it is important to attend a college with high academic expectations. It is also important to apply yourself and make the most of your undergraduate education. In Kentucky, roughly 1 of every 3 college graduates who apply to law school is accepted, and out-of-state admissions can be even more competitive. Law schools consider students from a wide range of undergraduate backgrounds, so it is not necessary to attend college at a large university to be admitted to a state law school.
The Liberal Arts foundation at Bellarmine develops the reading, writing, speaking, and critical thinking skills valued by law schools, such that Bellarmine students are uniquely positioned to consider law school after graduation from undergraduate studies. Graduates from Bellarmine’s undergraduate program have gone on to attend law schools at the following institutions: University of Louisville, University of Kentucky, Valparaiso University, Marquette University, Indiana University, University of Dayton and St. Louis University.
Law School Admission Criteria
Law schools consider your college GPA, the degree of challenge in your college course work, and your extracurricular, work, or service activities. An undergraduate GPA of 3.5 would be typical of successful Pre-Law students. Most law schools place even greater importance on your performance on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), which is a half-day standardized exam, typically taken after completing the junior year of undergraduate studies.
Preparing for a Legal Career
Bellarmine University has established a Pre-Law advisory panel consisting of faculty from various academic disciplines who assist prospective law students with their program of study, making certain that they develop those skills necessary to be successful for law school. Pre-Law students are advised to take challenging coursework, including logic and writing-intensive classes that help prepare for the LSAT. Pre-Law students also have opportunities to hear speakers on legal topics, to meet alumni who have been through law school, and to visit law schools prior to their application. Practice testing and other preparations for the LSAT are highly recommended. To get early experience in the field, many Bellarmine students participate in for-credit internships relevant to a legal career. For an added extracurricular experience, you may also want to join Bellarmine’s Pre-Law Society.
To practice law, you must complete three years of law school and then pass the bar exam. Though Kentucky does not identify areas of legal specialization, lawyers generally focus on a legal sub-discipline such as insurance law, real estate law, or environmental law. Many law school graduates apply their professional training to related fields such as business, law enforcement, arbitration, or politics.
Opportunities for Involvement
The Pre-Law Society at Bellarmine is a student organization for those interested in learning more about the law. The club sponsors law career speakers, law school visits, LSAT study groups and other activities of interest to prospective law students.
Mock Trial is a national competition for undergraduate students emphasizing skill development in courtroom arguments and procedures. Bellarmine’s expertly coached Mock Trial team is highly respected among the nation’s top teams, wtih several national awards to its credit.
Legal Internship Program Information:
In coordination with Bellarmine’s Pre-Law Program, the Political Science Program at Bellarmine sponsors a non-paid legal internship program for students interested in going to law school and practicing law. The program attempts to match students with a firm or other legal entity in their area of interest. Students receive 3 hours of class credit for at least 90 hours of internship work performed in a semester. As a condition to joining the program, firms agree that students will be much more than mere “gofers” (e.g., making copies, delivering documents, etc.). Instead, students will be offered opportunities such as performing very basic legal research, drafting basic legal documents, accompanying attorneys to courthouse hearings, and sitting in on client consultations. Since the legal internship program’s inception in the fall of 2012, students have had the opportunity to intern with the Jefferson County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, a Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge, an immigration law firm, criminal defense firms, and general practice firms. The opportunities these internships provide are phenomenal, allowing students to gain valuable insights into the “inner workings” of the legal field. Any student or legal entity interested in learning more about the program, please contact Dr. Lee Remington Williams or Professor Winnie Spitza.
Winnie McConnell Spitza, J.D.
Lee Remington Williams, JD, Ph.D.
Pasteur Hall 206A