Southern Miss Arts and Letters Program prepares students for law school

Southern Miss Arts and Letters Program prepares students for law school

This is a press release from the University of Southern Mississippi

The University of Southern Mississippi's College of Arts and Letters provides students with the skills and knowledge they need to be competitive applicants to law school and future law professionals.

This past September, the Department of Philosophy and Religion and the Department of Political Science, International Development and International Affairs hosted Prelaw Week to prepare students for their law school applications and show them some of the routes available to those interested in a career in the legal field.

Prelaw Week was designed to benefit students who may have an interest in law but do not necessarily know where to start. Some of the week's events included a mock law school class, classes on topics such as preparing for the law school admissions test, and a pre-law luncheon co-hosted by the Hattiesburg Young Lawyers Association and the Hattiesburg Area Bar Association.

One of the most crucial aspects of students' law school applications is their performance on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). In order to achieve a competitive score, students must be able to communicate, interpret and analyze information effectively. Lawyers must be successful writers and readers, and students in the College of Arts and Letters can teach students those important skills.

The variety and flexibility of the college's offerings allow students to pursue their own individual interests along the way. Most importantly, A&L students are taught to view issues from multiple perspectives and to communicate with a variety of audiences. At Southern Miss, degree programs in English, philosophy and religion, and political science are just three paths students can choose when considering a career in law.

The English major offers an informal concentration in professional writing and public discourse, which is focused on critical analysis and is especially suited to students intending to write in the workplace, like those who want to study law. English classes that could be helpful to all students in the College looking to pursue law include Technical Writing and Advanced Composition, as well as a variety of writing-intensive courses offered each semester. A recent section of Advanced Composition, taught by an English instructor with a law degree, focused on language and legal discourse.

"Law is about written text, and to study and practice law is to appreciate that fact," said Dr. Luis Iglesias, chair of the Department of English.

English majors are sensitive to language and its implications, and their ability to find and deploy textual evidence in an argument is crucial to being a successful lawyer.

Southern Miss English alumna Katherine Currie is a third-year law student at the University of Mississippi who knew she wanted to pursue a law degree during her sophomore year.

"I knew that studying English would allow me to read, which I love, but also analyze and write, which are skills necessary for a career in law," Currie said.

The Department of Philosophy and Religion has developed a pre-law major that includes a sequence of classes specifically designed to prepare a student for law school. The degree plan includes a variety of classes that could benefit other students in the College looking to take electives helpful in pursuing law, such as Logic, Philosophy of Law and Comparative Religion.

Philosophy students are taught to evaluate information in an objective and systematic way. "Philosophy majors do exceptionally well on the LSAT and have one of the highest acceptance rates into law school," said Dr. David Holley, chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion.

The Department of Political Science, International Development and International Affairs offers a degree in paralegal studies. They also offer degrees in political science or economics for students interested in going to law school to become an attorney.

"Around 30 percent of students that apply to law school study political science," said Dr. Ward Sayre, department chair. "Knowledge of political systems and political behavior allows students to better understand a variety of social and political perspectives, as well as how to think critically. Students are taught to understand and communicate the complexities of both the U.S. legal system and our constitutional structure."

Some classes that may benefit other students in the College include Introduction to Law in American Society, Constitutional Law and Women and the Law.

For more information about how the College of Arts and Letters helps prepare students for a career in law, visit http://www.usm.edu/arts-letters/pre-law.

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