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Pre-Law

Through its advising system, Clarke University helps students interested in a career in law in choosing those courses best suited to prepare them for the rigors of legal education and for the demands made on practicing attorneys. The university offers no program in pre-legal studies because the training of lawyers is the function of the nation’s law schools and those schools repeatedly advise against narrow pre-law studies. It also does not recommend any particular major as the single “best” preparation for law school, as the development of basic skills and insights rather than mastery of particular content is fundamental to the later attainments of legal competence. To assist students interested in the law, PHIL 280 Legal Reasoning/LSAT Prep is periodically offered for academic credit.

Pre-law students are encouraged to pursue concentrated study in a single discipline that requires intellectual rigor. It is strongly recommended that such students choose a major in the traditionally defined liberal arts disciplines such as philosophy, English, history, mathematics, chemistry, fine arts or foreign languages. Because lawyers are called on to provide meaningful solutions to society’s problems, pre-law students are also encouraged to expose themselves to all fields of knowledge in their choice of electives. The particular courses taken in these fields should be those that develop in the pre-law student the capacity to think for oneself, the ability to express one’s thoughts with clarity and force, and the capacity to understand of the goals and values of the civilization law seeks to serve.

Although it is impossible to earmark all the areas of the curriculum that train students in these skills and insights, the following are listed as possible suggestions.

  1. To master English, the pre-law student may find it helpful to study foreign languages, speech and debate. Formal courses in the analysis of literature may give the student an appreciation of the variety of good style. In writing courses students develop precision and grace in their own writing.
     
  2. Historical study gives students the thoughtful organization of human experience and so assists them in understanding how the hopes, dreams and possibilities law seeks to attain for tomorrow are necessarily conditioned by yesterday.
     
  3. Philosophy courses in logic and ethics are the daily concern of the law as a practical calling. Perhaps of even greater importance, courses in philosophy train students to handle abstractions and to question the ultimate nature and meaning of mind, soul and matter.
     
  4. The study of logic and mathematics is regarded as excellent pre-law work, as it provides training in the process of reasoning.
     
  5. As a practical study, accounting is a field lawyers must know and appreciate, as it is in many respects the language of business.
     
  6. The social sciences are vital to law because law is preoccupied with human behavior and its implications. Courses exposing students to the methodology of the social sciences, including some statistics, are recommended.

Click here to view a PowerPoint on Clarke's Pre-Law offerings.
For more information, please contact the academic affairs office or the philosophy department.

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