Spring 2019 Course Options for Pre-Law Students

Spring 2019 Registration Time Tickets – Available to View Starting Monday, October 22!

Registration is almost here.  And every semester around this time, our office hears from students asking for course suggestions.  As you know, students in ANY major can attend law school, and there are NO specifically required courses for pre-law undergrads. Law schools do not require any particular major or coursework. However, given an interest in law, here are some spring courses that pre-law students may find particularly helpful and interesting. These courses are only suggestions and are NOT requirements. For some additional information about course planning, go here to check out an earlier blog post with some good tips about planning your schedule.

Some of these courses have prerequisites;  check Course Explorer and speak to your academic advisor about the best courses for you.

ACE 240: Personal Financial Planning. Understanding financial instruments, records, and tax implications is critical for nearly all lawyers.

ADV 310: Intro to Public Relations  Introduces the student to the practice and profession of public relations. Course material covers topics such as the history of public relations, the role of law and ethics in public relations, and theories that guide public relations research and practice. 

BTW 263: Writing in the Disciplines teaches very practical writing skills for aspiring professionals.

Community Health 101: Introduction to Public Health is a good option for those interested in pursuing healthcare law. (See posted restrictions.)

Communication courses are helpful, as all lawyers must demonstrate strong oral and written communication skills. Here are some examples of helpful courses:

  • CMN 101: Public Speaking (this is a prereq for most upper level CMN courses)
  • CMN 211: Business Communication
  • CMN 220: Communicating Public Policy
  • CMN 321: Strategies of Persuasion
  • CMN 323: Argumentation

ECON 484: Law and Economics Applications of economic theory to problems and issues in both civil and criminal law and the effect of legal rules on the allocation of resources; includes property rights, liability and negligence assignment, the use of administrative and common law to mitigate market failure, and the logic of private versus public law enforcement. 

ENGL 310: Introduction to the Study of the English Language

Topics include the study of the English language, with emphasis on one or more of the following: the social, political, historical, technological, legal, and economic aspects of language use.

ENGL 360: Environmental Writing for students interested in environmental law.

GWS 475: Queering Legal Cultures  Exploration of the many forms of address that legal language can take, and how these legal forms affect subjects who are barely legible before the law. We will look at state laws, supreme-court decisions, policy publications, literature and social commentaries, fictional texts – as mobbed through social media platforms – to try to understand how queer (as verb, noun, adjective) emerges as a way in and out of legal spaces. Topics will include historical formations, current debates, and landmark cases in both national and transnational contexts. 

HDFS 120: Intro to Family Studies and SOCW 200: Intro to Social Work. Both of these courses may be of interest to students who want to be advocates for families and juveniles.

INFO 303: Writing Across Media, a skill that all legal careers integrate and value.

LAW 199:The Justice System.  This class explores the operation of the United States Criminal Justice System.  In addition, this course reviews the history of the criminal justice system, the people who work in it, the citizens who are processed through it, and the legacy of good and bad outcomes it has delivered through the years. The learning is accomplished by reading an excellent textbook, and more importantly, by observing court and talking with judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys.  Thus, students have the opportunity to learn from people who have served the justice system for many years.  Admission is by application only, as there are only twelve spots (this number is dictated by our transportation arrangements).

If you would like to apply, please send an email to Professor Pahre at jpahre@illinois.edu by midnight on October 20th with the following information:

1. Your full name and address;

2. Why this course interests you;

3. What you hope to learn during the spring semester; and

4. How you will manage your schedule so that you will be available Tuesday afternoons for our class meetings and field trips.

Professor Pahre will make decisions by November 1st, and offer spots to twelve students. The remaining students will be on a wait-list.  Any student who accepts the offer of placement will be enrolled.  If any student declines, or later withdraws, she will offer the placement to the next student on the wait-list.

Law 302: Transitional Justice Wrongdoing is part of the history of many, if not most, political communities around the globe. This course examines the moral questions that dealing with past wrongdoing raise. Our focus is specifically on political wrongdoing, that is, wrongdoing inflicted on individuals by the state or groups contesting the state. Such wrongdoing has taken different forms, from slavery, to forced disappearances, to programs of torture and of land appropriation. We also focus on two specific political contexts: the United States and South Africa. In this course, we survey a range of legal measures including criminal punishment, truth commissions, reparations, and apology, that have been, and can be used, to deal with legacies of wrongdoing.

Law 303: Living the Law This course first applies the legal understanding developed in LAW 301 to situations in the real world, and then explores how the law is viewed through different social science lenses. Students interested in deepening their knowledge of how the law operates in today’s world, and how the law is studied in the social sciences will benefit from this class. Prerequisite: Law 301.

NRES 102: Intro to Natural Resources and Environmental Science would be a helpful course for students interested in pursuing environmental law.

Philosophy options include:

  • PHIL 102: Logic & Reasoning. Especially helpful for students who have yet to take the LSAT, as two sections of the LSAT are based on Logical Reasoning.
  • PHIL 104/105: Intro to Ethics.  Basic exploration of ethics, including the relationship between social morality and the law.
  • PHIL 107: Intro to Political Philosophy. Introduction to core ideas in political and legal philosophy, for example, rights, equality, political obligations, legitimacy of states, nationalism, and oppression.

Political Science options to gain a foundational understanding of our legal system and its role within broader political structures include:

  • PS 220/321: Intro to Public Policy/Principles of Public Policy
  • PS 280: Intro to International Relations
  • PS 301: US Constitution I is a helpful primer for law school
  • PS 313: Congress and Foreign Policy
  • PS 386: International Law
  • PS 399: Politics of International Treaties

PS 491: Internship with the Champaign County Public Defender’s Office

Are you interested in how criminal courts work?  Would you like to see an arraignment, a motion hearing or a real criminal trial?  Want to meet with Public Defender clients about their cases?  Would you like to help an attorney prepare cases for court?  The Department of Political Science and the Champaign County Public Defender’s Office plan to offer an internship for academic credit in Spring, 2019.   Jamie Thomas-Ward, the Director of Pre-Law Services, will provide academic supervision of these internships. Unlike other internships that require a substantial research project done in conjunction with the internship itself for an award of academic credit, in this internship, students will be awarded credit for their work in the Public Defender’s Office combined with a series of structured academic assignments requiring integration of internship experiences with readings on the political systems, the legal system and constitutional and human rights. This class requires one hour of class time per week, and about six hours per week of work at the internship site. Admission is competitive: We expect to have five openings for Spring, 2019.

By Thursday, November 1, students seeking to participate in the Public Defender Internship Program must submit an application online at https://forms.illinois.edu/sec/2726999. The application consists of a cover letter, informal transcript, resume and writing sample. The cover letter should address each of the following elements: 1) explain your interest in and motivation for undertaking this internship, 2) share your experience in working with only a modest level of direct supervision, and 3) discuss your plans for accommodating participation in the internship in your schedule (including how many other credit hours you plan to carry, whether you will be studying for the LSAT, whether you have other significant time commitments).  All of those materials will be reviewed for a decision on acceptance into the program by the departmental internship committee. 

At a minimum, students seeking to participate in this program need (1) to have completed 45 credit hours by Spring, 2019 (2) with at least one year of residence on this campus and (3) to have earned a cumulative UIUC grade point average of 3.0 or higher.  They must (4) have completed PS 101: U.S. Government & Politics and (5) have no arrests or criminal convictions – as an adult or juvenile – or serious campus disciplinary violations involving campus or local law enforcement.  In addition to working in the courthouse, students will need to attend a class for one hour per week on Wednesday afternoons.  Submit all applications online at https://forms.illinois.edu/sec/2726999.

Past students have really enjoyed this opportunity.  Questions on this internship?  Contact Jamie Thomas-Ward at thomas99@illinois.edu.

PSYC 341: Advanced Community Projects. Gaining experience with clients in a human services context can build client-related skills as well as introducing students to the legal needs of a community or a specific population.

Sociology has a Criminology, Law and Society minor. These courses may be helpful for students exploring criminal legal issues and crime in society, such as:

  • SOC 378: Sociology of Law
  • SOC 479: Law and Society

Other courses to explore different areas of law include the following. Some have restrictions; check Course Explorer.

  • ACE 403: Agricultural Law
  • GEOG 210: Social & Environmental Issues
  • JOUR 311: Media Law
  • LER 120: Contemporary Labor Problems
  • REL 480: Islamic Law
  • RST 354: Legal Aspects of Sport
  • SE 400 Engineering Law (only pre-req is RHET 105)

Business classes can provide a helpful foundation for those interested in corporate careers, however, most are restricted to College of Business majors or minors. Some courses will release any leftover seats after a restricted period; check Course Explorer for more details.

  • BADM 300 Legal Environment of Business
  • BADM 303 Principles of Public Policy–also cross-listed as PS 321.
  • BADM 314 Leading Negotiations
  • BADM 447 Legal Strategies for Entrepreneurial Firms

Remember that these are only suggestionsFurther, this is not intended to be an exhaustive list. There are many other great courses described in the Course Explorer, some of which have prerequisites but are still open to undergrads. Do your own research and talk with your academic advisor to identify other good options.