Course Selection Ideas for Spring

As you know, pre-law students come from ALL majors and there are no specific required courses to be a successful pre-law student. Here are some ideas of classes you may find interesting or useful. NONE OF THESE ARE REQUIRED but are merely offered as suggestions.

English 310: Introduction to the Study of the English Language
Unprotected Speech (Language and Law): What we can and cannot say, and why.

The First Amendment reads, “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech,” but although much of our speech is protected, a great deal of it is not. The First Amendment has never protected obscene speech, incitement to violence, fighting words, or falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater, though some of these categories have proved difficult to define. This semester, we will study the workings of our language through the lens of protected and unprotected speech and writing: what we can say without fear of legal consequences, and what we can’t. Starting with the murderous attacks on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo last year, we’ll look at the history of censorship, speech bans, and government surveillance of speech. We’ll see how the boundaries between permitted and banned speech shift over time and with context; how advances in technology change the border between public speech and private speech; whether speech codes are desirable or defensible; and how the concept of intellectual property informs and limits what we can do with our words, and with the words of others. All readings will be available on line. Students will be asked to write several short papers on the topics covered, and to participate in a group presentation on one of them.

Law 201: Basic Constitutional Law and Individual Rights

Taught by Vikram Amar, the new Dean of the College of Law, this class is an introduction to the main themes of the American Constitution – with an emphasis on the First and Fourteenth Amendments – and to basic techniques of constitutional interpretation. Attention will be paid to the interplay of constitutional text, judicial doctrine, and constitutional decision-making outside the judiciary. No prerequisites.

Law 199: Introduction to Domestic Violence Legal Issues

This course will introduce students to legal and cultural issues in the domestic violence area. This course may be of interest to those interested in child and family studies, psychology, law, sociology, ethnography, gender and women?s studies, and/or political science. The course will consist of two 1 hr 20 minute interactive course meetings per week. You should expect to hear from many different “players” in the legal system in the form of guest lectures as well. Assessment will take the form of short multiple choice quizzes and written assignments; there will be no final exam.

JOUR 452 –  Great Books of Journalism

This is an unusual class in that it is structured like a book club. The class will read eight books over the semester and one night a week will sit down in a comfortable seminar setting and talk about them—how they are structured, reported, narrated, written. The books are all classics of journalism and nonfiction. They range from books about political power and corruption, to endemic poverty, to oranges, to front-line soldiers in Iraq, to traveling the back roads of America, to living with the poorest of the poor in India. They range from historical investigative, to first-person poetic documentary, to matter-of-fact third-person descriptive, to deep personal reporter immersion, to combinations of all of these approaches. They reveal journalism on a far wider and grander stage than most ever imagine. Students write a  700-word essay on each book. No final exam but students  write a longer final essay on all the books. There are no prerequisites and the class is open to all majors.

Popular courses to build pre-law skills include the following. These are not required but are offered as suggestions. Some of these courses have prerequisites.

Classes to build oral and written communication skills
CMN 101: Public Speaking, CMN 211: Business Communication, CMN 321: Strategies of Persuasian, CMN 323: Argumentation, foreign language courses, upper level ENGL, HIST, PHIL, or PS courses

Classes to build logical reasoning skills
PHIL 102: Logic and Reasoning, or PHIL 103: Logical and Reasoning QRII, PHIL 202: Symbolic Logic

Classes to understand how our government is structured and how it regulates
PS 101: Intro to US Gov & Politics, PS 220: Intro to Public Policy, PS 302: The US Constitution II, PS 322: Law and Public Policy, Law 201: Basic Constitutional Law

Classes to explore legal issues
BADM 300: The Legal Environment of Business, GE 400: Engineering Law, RST 354: Legal Aspects of Sport, SOC 275: Criminology