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.

Summer 2018 Classes and Opportunities for May 2018 Graduates

Summer classes are offered in-person or online through the University of Illinois. There are great options for pre-law students looking to add a class or two in the summertime. We’ve looked at the course catalog (available here) and found some great classes for you this summer!

Please be aware that some of these classes listed and other summer classes have prerequisites.

Law 199:  The Best of American Case Law

Law 199: The Best of American Case Law is a 10-day summer course designed to introduce students to some of the most important and exciting law school cases. Students will come to understand how the law school classroom works, experience a broad sample of at least eight different areas of the law, and engage with nationally renowned law faculty as they present some of the most important legal cases. All students will receive a certificate for successful completion of the course. Current University of Illinois students will also receive 3 credit hours.

SCHEDULE: July 23 – August 3, 2018; 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. daily.

MEALS: Lunch is included in the course fee on days that class is held.

PS 100: Introduction to Political Science

Surveys the major concepts and approaches employed in the study of politics.

Credit is not given for both PS 100 and PS 200.

PS 224: Politics of the National Parks

Credit: 3 hours. This class surveys the major concepts and approaches employed in the study of politics. Class meets online. Class meets June 11 to August 2. This course takes a two-week field trip to the Greater Yellowstone Area to study the politics of wildlife, wilderness, natural resources, and tourism, among other topics. Students will learn about sustainability in the region, the effect of stakeholders on national parks policies, and the legal and administrative environment of the National Park Service. There is a course fee of $800 to cover all transportation, lodging, and meals. For more information, see https://publish.illinois.edu/pahre/study-in-yellowstone-this-summer/

PS 305: The US Supreme Court

Credit: 3 hours. Examines how the modern Supreme Court resolves major issues in American constitutional politics. Prerequisite: PS 101, six hours of Political Science credit, or consent of instructor; PS 301 or PS 302.

CMN 101: Public Speaking

Credit: 3 hours. Preparation and presentation of short informative and persuasive speeches; emphasis on the selection and organization of material, methods of securing interest and attention, and the elements of delivery. Credit is not given for both CMN 101 and either CMN 111 or CMN 112.

CMN 340: Visual Politics

Credit: 3 hours. Explores the role of visual images in U.S. culture, paying special attention to the ways that images function persuasively as political communication. Provides tools for analyzing historical and contemporary images and artifacts, such as photographs, prints, paintings, advertisements, and memorials. Emphasis on how visual images are used for remembering and memorializing; confronting and resisting; consuming and commodifying; governing and authorizing; and visualizing and informing.

GWS 100: Intro Gender & Women’s Studies

Credit: 3 hours. Interdisciplinary introduction to the study of gender, women, and sexuality. Addresses issues such as social experience, representation and popular culture, femininities and masculinities, family structure, education, employment, economics, literature and the arts, religion, history, and technology. Explores interrelationships of race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, ability, and age from a transnational perspective. Same as HDFS 140 and SOC 130.

BADM 300: The Legal Environment of Business

Credit: 3 hours. Introduction to law and the legal system, litigation, contracts, business organizations, intellectual property, employment law and governmental regulation of business. This section will be taught online. Students must have broadband access to the internet to participate. Please see http://publish.illinois.edu/onlinestudentorientation/online-business-minor-courses/ for more information. This course will open to Food Science & Human Nutrition majors on Monday, April 16, 2018 and to the campus on Monday, April 23, 2018 at approximately 10:00 a.m. This is an elective course for undergraduate students pursuing the business minor. Restricted to Food Science & Human Nutrition or Curric Unassigned or Accountancy or Finance or Marketing or Business or Information Sys & Info Tech or Supply Chain Management or Business Process Management or Management or Information Systems or Operations Management major(s) or minor(s). Restricted to students with Junior or Senior class standing.
GLBL 100: Intro to Global Studies

Credit: 3 hours. Foundation course for understanding a range of contemporary issues and learning to analyze them from multiple disciplinary perspectives. Students consider globalizing trends within themes of wealth and poverty; population, cultures, and human rights; environment and sustainability; and governance, conflict, and cooperation. Course objectives are to enhance knowledge of human cultures, their interactions and impacts on the world; develop skills for successfully negotiating realities of contemporary societies; and promote values for global learning, diversity, and sustainable futures.

HIST 100: Global History

Credit: 3 hours. Broad introduction to global history, by exploring the global structures and transnational forces that have shaped human history, from the emergence of agriculture and urban centers to our contemporary global village.

Summer Institute for Languages in the Muslim World – SILMW

SILMW is 8 weeks long. It runs during Summer II Session.

The Summer Institute for Languages of the Muslim World (SILMW) is an annual intensive language institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that focuses specifically on teaching critical languages spoken in the Muslim World.

At SILMW 2018 we are offering the following languages (click on a language for more info and for the contact information of the instructor).

  • Arabic
  • Persian
  • Swahili
  • Turkish
  • Wolof

The class schedule is 9-11 and 12-2, Elementary classes: M-F, Intermediate classes:M-R and half day on Friday, Advanced classes: M-R

IFLIP ANNOUNCES NEW SUMMER CLASSES! Classes are now three weeks! Please register by May 1st, 2018

Open to members of the University community and to the general public.Classes meet Monday through Friday, two hours a day, for three weeks, except holidays. Taught by advanced graduate students or faculty. Courses focus on conversational skills, travel preparation and language survival skills. There is minimal homework, no attendance policy, and no academic credit. Click here for more information: http://www.slcl.illinois.edu/outreach/iflip/

 

May 2018 Graduates: There are great gap year opportunities for you!

Please visit our Compass page for over 20 Gap Year Opportunities.

Here are five full time opportunities at Kirkland & Ellis that would be great for May 2018 Graduates!

Junior Paralegal – Corporate

New York, NY: http://staffjobsus.kirkland.com/jobs/2629335-junior-paralegal-corporate

Junior Paralegal – International Trade & National Security

Washington D.C.: http://staffjobsus.kirkland.com/jobs/2600812-junior-paralegal-international-trade-and-national-security 

Corporate Junior Paralegal

San Francisco, CA: http://staffjobsus.kirkland.com/jobs/2505717-corporate-junior-paralegal

Litigation Junior Paralegal

Chicago, IL: http://staffjobsus.kirkland.com/jobs/2470011-litigation-junior-paralegal

Junior Paralegal – Intellectual Property

New York, NY: http://staffjobsus.kirkland.com/jobs/2422412-junior-paralegal-intellectual-property

PS 491: Public Defender Internship for Fall 18

Applications are now open for PS 491: Public Defender Internship for Fall of 2018 and will be due on April 5. Read on for details about the course and the application process.

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 Fall, 2018.   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.

What, specifically, can you expect to be doing as part of this internship?

  • Watching criminal court proceedings such as arraignments, sentencing hearings, motion hearings, and trials
  • Reviewing criminal case files (such as police reports) with Public Defender clients both at the office and at the Champaign County Jail
  • Reviewing evidence and bodycam footage and organizing materials for case files
  • Discussing case information and strategy with the Public Defender attorneys
  • Contacting potential witnesses to testify at sentencing hearings; and
  • Other research and projects as needed.

The Public Defender’s Office is a fast-paced environment. Ideal students for this program are: interested in criminal law proceedings; willing to take a variety of assignments; able to work independently when given appropriate support; and able to devote 90 hours during the semester to the Public Defender’s Office. Admission is competitive: We expect to have five openings for Fall, 2018.

By Thursday, April 5, students seeking to participate in the Public Defender Internship Program must submit an application online at https://forms.illinois.edu/sec/7935624. The application consists of a cover letter, informal transcript, resume and writing sample. The cover letter needs to 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 Fall, 2018 (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 work in the courthouse, students will need to attend a class for one hour per week on Wednesday afternoons at 4:00.  Submit all applications online at https://forms.illinois.edu/sec/7935624.

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

Course Selection for Pre-Law Students: Part 2

We previously shared a list of possible Spring 2018 courses of interest to pre-law students (click here to see that post). What else should you know about building your semester schedule? Here are several tips and suggestions to help pre-law students make the most of your upcoming semesters.

Students really can major in ANYTHING and be successful in law school, but you must be a strong student in whatever you choose. 

What academic skills should you build? Pre-law students must demonstrate strong research, writing, reading, and speaking skills, which can be accomplished both in and out of the classroom. These are the core skills that law schools truly care about, so take a look at your DARS and ask yourself: How many courses have you taken that develop and reflect these skills? Take courses that demonstrate those skills–they can be in any discipline. Popular options include English, History, Political Science, Philosophy, or Communication courses, but don’t feel limited to only those.

Balance academic challenge with success. Law schools want to see students who demonstrate academic success while taking a challenging courseload. Ideally, pre-law students would take an academic course load that is challenging both in terms of rigor and credits while still doing performing well. What does this mean, and how can you achieve it?

  • A challenging but not overwhelming course load suggestion is 15-17 credit hours. (This can vary due to individual factors, and is only a general guideline, not a mandate. Think carefully about the right course load for you.)
  • Be strategic in your course selection. Don’t take your 5 hardest classes in the same semester to get them out of the way. Work with your major advisor to determine how you can distribute those courses throughout your remaining semesters. Likewise, don’t take your 5 easiest classes at the same time–use those to give you some relief from the harder classes each semester.
  • For juniors and seniors–Move up from 1 and 200 level courses to 3 and 400 levels in order to demonstrate an appropriate level of challenge. A good general rule is no more than one 1 or 200 level course per semester for juniors and seniors (unless you must do so to graduate on time). Taking easy classes to pad a GPA is obvious to law school admissions, who know what a challenging semester looks like.

Use your major(s) and minor(s) to complement each other. If you have a major that does not necessarily demonstrate lots of writing or research skills, then selecting a minor or secondary major that does is a smart balance. Unusual combinations of majors/minors can also show a law school someone who is intellectually curious and able to succeed in a wide variety of coursework.

Consider changing majors, especially if you are not able to achieve mostly As and some Bs in your coursework.

Do not make course selections for these reasons:

  • A friend/roommate/sibling/parent said the class was easy;
  • I only wanted classes on Tues/Thurs so I just picked what I could get into on those days;
  • I only wanted afternoon classes so I didn’t even consider anything in the morning;
  • I wanted to hurry up and graduate so I took a very demanding overload each semester.

What, then, are good reasons to take a course?

  • It demonstrates the skills that law schools prefer to see;
  • I like the topic and find it interesting or it is required for my major/minor;
  • It fits in well with my remaining coursework in terms of balancing rigor and the ability to do well; and
  • I talked with my academic advisor who agreed it is a good fit for me.

You must prioritize academics if law school is your goal. Don’t get distracted from your goal of law school admission. If being president of a social organization or volunteering too much affects your grades, it’s time to dial back your extracurriculars and rededicate yourself to your role as a student. Law schools will not care that the reason your grades suffered is because you were planning a big fundraiser…that shows them a lack of prioritizing and time management skills.

Build important academic skills. Right now you are building academic skills and habits which you will rely on when you transition to law school, where the work is much harder and infinitely more time consuming than your undergraduate studies. Now is the time to master discipline (not procrastinating), effective note taking, reading comprehension and speed, attention to detail in your writing, citing your work appropriately, giving an effective speech, and managing your time. All of these are skills that you will be expected to bring with you into your law school classroom.

Remember that grade replacement will not help for law school (click here for a refresher), so take the time to carefully consider your best course options and seek help when you need it.