Spring 2020 Pre-Law Class/Course Guide

Spring 2020 Registration Time Tickets – Available Starting Monday, October 21! Registration is almost here, which means pre-law students are asking: What courses should I take?  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.

CHART FORMAT: Want to see these suggestions in a handy chart format? Click here: Spring 2020 Class Chart

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. 

ANTH 160: Contemporary Social Issues considers how anthropological theory and methods enhance understanding of contemporary social and political issues, such as immigration, education, affirmative action, and welfare. Examines the relationship between social policy and social science.

BTW 263: Writing in the Disciplines teaches very practical writing skills for aspiring professionals. This spring’s topic is Cross-Cultural Communication.

BTW 271: Persuasive Writing examines persuasive writing in a variety of contexts including ads, argumentative essays, proposals, and campaigns.

CHLH Community Health 101: Introduction to Public Health and 210: Community Health Organizations are both good options for those interested in pursuing healthcare law. 

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 230: Intro to Interpersonal Communication
  • CMN 232: Intro to Intercultural Communication
  • CMN 260: Intro to Health Communication (for those interested in healthcare law)
  • 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. 

EDUC 202: Social Justice, School, and Society Examines the nature of justice and the dynamics of a pluralistic society to derive a conception of social justice.

ENGL 360: Environmental Writing for students interested in environmental law. Write about food, water, and energy resource systems. Students will also have the opportunity to meet working journalists and to practice professional skills like interviewing, conducting historical research, and drafting pitch letters.

ESE 210: Social & Environmental Issues for those interested in environmental law.

FIN 241: Fundamantals of Real Estate. A survey of real estate finance, appraisal, investment, law, brokerage, management, development and economics. Special attention is given to the analysis of aggregate real estate and mortgage markets, to the individual transactions within these markets, and to the legal and institutional factors which affect these markets.

FSHN 101: Intro to Food Science & Human Nutrition for those interested in food regulation or public policy related to food or nutrition. Discusses the evolution of the food system to meet the needs and desires of a complex, heterogeneous society. Provides an overview of food in relation to nutrition and health, composition and chemistry, microbiology, safety, processing, preservation, laws and regulations, quality, and the consumer.

GEOG 101: Global Development & Environment and GEOG 210: Social & Environmental Issues for those interested in international or environmental law and public policy.

GLBL 260: Global Human Rights Examines how ideas about human rights are defined and how they are differentially deployed. Looks at human rights claims and crises, and examines how governmental and non-governmental individuals and organizations have sought to deal with human rights violations in order to address problems of justice, retribution, and reconciliation at personal, national, and international levels.

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, juveniles, the elderly, or other vulnerable populations.

HDFS 420: Inequality, Public Policy, and U.S. Families for those interested in public policy and/or family law. Includes critical analysis of health care, employment, immigration, family leave, welfare and other social policy options that affect family life and well-being.

HIST 281: Constructing Race in America. Interdisciplinary examination of the historical, cultural, and social dimensions of race and ethnicity in the United States. Explores the complex and intricate pursuit of multiracial and multicultural democracy.

HIST 312: Immigrant America for those interested in immigration law. History of immigration and immigrant groups in the United States from 1830 to 1980. Covers major waves of immigration and focuses on the diverse cultural heritage, social structure, and political activism of immigrants from Europe, the Americas, and Asia.

HIST 442: Roman Law and Legal Tradition. Examines Roman law and legal tradition in the context of historical, political, and social developments; origins of law in primitive and ancient classical societies; surveys development of precedent, codification, and preservation of Roman law, and the impact of Roman law on western legal traditions.

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

JOUR 311: Media Law. Detailed analysis of the theories of freedom of expression, the legal doctrines of greatest concern to mass communicators, and contemporary issues related to free speech and press, including libel, copyright, and news-gathering in a digital age.

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.

LAW 305: Art and Cultural Property Law. This course concerns the emergence of “art” and “cultural property” law as a distinct field of legal inquiry and practice. Among the dozens of important relevant issues in this field are the successes and failures of law in policing cultural heritage crimes, the rise of artistic nationalism, cultural heritage as a casualty of war, censorship, and provenance studies.

LER 100: Intro to Labor Studies for those interested in corporate or employment law. Looks at economic, political, and workplace issues facing working people, why and how workers join unions, how unions are structured and function, and how unions and management bargain a contract. Provides a historical overview of the American labor movement, and discusses the contemporary struggles workers and unions face in a rapidly changing global economy.

LER 120: Contemporary Labor Problems for those interested in corporate or employment law.  Focuses on problems and challenges facing American workers and the U.S. labor movement. Topics include the deterioration of the labor-management “social contract” in recent decades; a review of labor and employment law; the health care crisis; globalization and cross-border union alliances; and union democracy.

NRES courses that can be helpful for students interested in pursuing environmental law include:
NRES 102: Intro to Natural Resources and Environmental Science
NRES 105: Climate Change Impacts on Ecological Systems
NRES 287: Environment and Society

PHIL 102/103: Logic & Reasoning. Especially helpful for students who have yet to take the LSAT, as two sections of the LSAT are based on logical and analytical 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 the following. Review course restrictions for prerequisites.

  • PS 220/322: Intro to Public Policy/Law & Public Policy
  • PS 271: Environment and Society
  • PS 280: Intro to International Relations
  • PS 301/302: US Constitution I & II are both helpful primers for law school
  • PS 313: Congress and Foreign Policy
  • PS 329: Immigration & Citizenship
  • PS 370: Justice in the Law
  • PS 396: International Conflict

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 and help an attorney prepare cases for court?  The Department of Political Science and the Champaign County Public Defender’s Office will offer an internship for academic credit in Spring, 2020.    In this internship, students will earn 3 hours of 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 of 2020.

To apply: By Friday, October 25, students seeking to participate in the Public Defender Internship Program must submit an application online at https://forms.illinois.edu/sec/2536463. The application consists of a cover letter, informal transcript, resume and writing sample. 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, 2020 (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. 

PSYCH 144: Stereotypes, Prejudice & Discrimination

Sociology has a Criminology, Law and Society minor. These courses may be helpful for students exploring criminal legal issues and the criminal justice system on a societal level, such as:

  • SOC 275: Criminology
  • SOC 375: Criminal Justice System
  • SOC 378: Sociology of Law
  • SOC 479: Law and Society

UP 160: Race, Social Justice, and Cities. Explore everyday racial conflicts in selected cities as expressions of historical struggles for social and spatial justice, across multiple scales. Focus on the governance of routine social practices ranging from policing, to education, to gentrification and memorialization in public places.

More 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
  • 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 314 Leading Negotiations
  • BADM 340: Ethical Dilemmas of Business
  • BADM 380: International Business
  • BADM 403: Corporate & Commercial Law

Remember that these are only suggestions and that people come to law school from a variety of academic disciplines.  This is not intended to be an exhaustive list. Courses get added all the time, and many are added after we publish this list. Many other great courses can be found in Course Explorer, some of which have prerequisites. Do additional research and talk with your academic advisor to identify other good options for you.

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How to select majors, minors, and classes: A Guide for Pre-Law Students

I don't know (Good Luck Charlie) | I DON'T EVEN KNOW | image tagged in i don't know good luck charlie | made w/ Imgflip meme maker 

The eternal question for both incoming and continuing pre-law students is: What major/minor/classes should I take? 

Students really can major in ANYTHING and be successful in law school, but you must be a strong student in whatever you choose. Law schools don’t require any particular undergraduate major, and the American Bar Association lists skills and values, rather than particular courses, that law schools are looking for in a candidate.

You really can major in anything–but you must create an academic record of success and you should build the skills recommended for law school. Read on for what that means.

BUILDING AN ACADEMIC RECORD OF SUCCESS

Law schools want to know that applicants have demonstrated success in the classroom so that they can predict your success as you transition to much harder work in law school. A record of academic success in general means that you’ve done well, taken challenging courses, are intellectually curious, and possess certain academic skills (more on that below).

Law schools vary considerably in what they consider a “strong” record of success. Check the median GPA of the law schools that interest you here…you’ll see that the median may be anywhere from a 3.3 to a 4.0 at any particular law school. To be a strong candidate for that school, ideally you would be at the GPA median or higher.

But a GPA isn’t the whole story. Law schools also want to see that you’ve challenged yourself by taking upper level classes when appropriate, taking a rigorous (but not crazy) courseload, and taking a variety of coursework.

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 easier 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. (Example: History and Chemistry represent two different skill sets. As long as the overall GPA is still strong.)

Consider changing majors, especially if you are not able to achieve mostly As and some Bs in your coursework. Getting Cs (or below) is a sign of concern that should make a pre-law student carefully consider their choices.

Do not make course selections for these reasons:

  • I heard from a friend/roommate/sibling/the internet that this 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. If you must work a lot to support your education, then do your absolute best to perfect your time management skills, which will set you up well for law school and practicing law! And definitely tell law schools how much you were working during undergrad in your application so that they appreciate your balancing skills.

BUILDING ACADEMIC AND PERSONAL SKILLS FOR LAW SCHOOL

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.

Build important personal and study skills. Right now you are building 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. Utilize campus resources like tutoring, the Writers Workshop, the Counseling Center, and the many workshops and programs about building these skills. Not sure where to look? Ask your academic advisor.

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.

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Starting law school this fall? What to know, do, and buy this summer!

Congratulations to all Illini who are completing the law school application cycle! It feels like it’s over, but actually, a whole new stage is just beginning. What should you do now and throughout the summer to make sure you are ready to enter the legal profession?

First Things First: Final Application Tasks

  • Seat deposits. Now is the time for making those final seat deposits to save your seat. While some people will submit multiple seat deposits, if you’ve done your research and completed your visits, you need to only place one seat deposit at your selected school. Remember that starting May 15, every law school can see each deposit that applicants have made–meaning that they will know if you’ve put down multiple deposits.
  • Follow up on wait lists. It is very common to be on one (or more) wait lists. Revisit this blog post for tips on what to do.
  • Withdraw your other applications. By this point, applicants have narrowed down their law school to one or two top choices. Contact the schools you know you won’t be attending to formally withdraw. This allows those law schools to offer your seat/scholarship to someone else. Some law schools will have a webform to do this, whereas at others, a simple email like this will do. Dear Dean of Admissions, Thank you very much for the opportunity to attend Your Law School. However, after careful consideration I have decided to attend X Law School (or, I’ve decided to attend law school in the midwest/east coast/elsewhere), so I will not be placing a deposit.  I very much appreciate your time and consideration of my application. Best wishes, Applicant.
  • Send a final transcript. After graduation, you must provide a final transcript to the law school you are attending.

Professional details–You are taking an important step toward beginning your professional life. Start off on the right foot.

  • Get online.
    • Clean up your social media presence like your Facebook and Twitter sites. Would you want an employer or law school representative to see every picture or post of yours? If not, take them down, and set privacy restrictions.
    • Set up a new, professional-sounding gmail account (not cubbies14 or hotty100). Learn how to use google calendar–if you haven’t been much of a planner until now, this is a good time to start getting in the habit of planning your days/weeks. Here’s a good video to learn some starter tips and tricks.
    • Create a Linked In profile or update your profile.
    • Update your resume. Keep it simple and classic–legal employers tend toward the traditional, so focus artistic creativity elsewhere and make this resume succinct and clear.
    • Subscribe to online news and legal resources such as the New York Times and the National Law Journal to get into the practice of keeping up to date on legal issues.
  • Follow up with your professors/recommenders. You will continue to need recommendations for scholarships and for applying to jobs at the end of 1L year and beyond. Plus, it is simply good practice to begin developing long term connections.  At minimum you should:
    • Send a thank you note to your law school recommenders and let them know where you’ve decided to attend law school.
    • Provide your gmail or other non-Illinois email so that they can stay in touch with you after you graduate.
    • Ask if you can connect with them on LinkedIn.
    • Extra credit for delivering an inexpensive token gift such as a coffee gift card or chocolates. You don’t have to spend a lot of money–and shouldn’t–to express your appreciation.
  • Network. Ask lawyers you or your parents know if you can take them to coffee and learn about their practice area. You can use the Illinois Lawyer Finder here to locate lawyers near you (if you live in Illinois) by practice area. Use your networking skills and begin reaching out to any contacts in legal fields that interest you. Remember, everyone needs a lawyer eventually, and most people know or have hired a lawyer. Plus lawyers know lots of other lawyers and can introduce or recommend you. You can already start thinking about what kind of 1L summer job you’d like and start building your network for that.
  • Create a Google Doc to help with your bar exam application. List every address you’ve ever had, every landlord you’ve ever had, and every speeding and parking ticket you’ve ever received. Get all the records you can for these and for any academic or disciplinary action against you during your undergraduate years. You’ll be applying during your 2L or 3L year to sit for the bar in your chosen state and you will not remember these old details! If you’d like to know what details you’ll be obligated to report on your Illinois Character & Fitness application, visit the Illinois Board of Admission to the Bar application here–be sure to click on the drop down menu to see all the questions in Sections A through J. Click here to explore other states’ bar application requirements.

Financial considerations

  • Follow up with the financial aid office of your law school to make sure they have all the documents they need, such as your FAFSA, and that you haven’t missed any opportunities to apply for school-specific scholarships.
  • Apply for scholarships this summer! We posted a Scholarships Spreadsheet over on Compass listing over 200 scholarships for incoming law students (and many which are available to undergrads also).
  • Most federal loans will not be disbursed until AFTER classes begin, so you will need to pay security deposits and the first month of rent as well as buy books and necessary items (below) all before getting your loans. Save up this summer!
  • Buy some important items if you do not already own them.
    • You will need a suit and dress shoes the very first week of class. To get the most bang for your buck, your suit should be classic business formal: gray, black, or navy blue in a conservative cut and year-round fabric.
    • You should also bring at least 2-3 business casual outfits that you can wear to networking events.
    • You may need a new or upgraded laptop–check with your law school to see what technology they recommend and what is compatible with their IT systems. Your law school may also offer discounts. A printer is very helpful but you could speak to your roommate(s) to see if they have one before purchasing.
  • Make a budget. Each law school is required to provide a budget in your financial aid package, or you can find it online. You are not required to take the full loan amount; remember that your loans start accruing interest from Day 1 so any amount you do not borrow will save you the interest too. Sit down and carefully consider your living expenses so you can budget accordingly. Remember that your loan disbursement is only designed to pay for tuition/fees and 9 months of living expenses, and it is not designed to cover costs like car payment/insurance, credit card debt, or travel (for example, if you need to fly to your new law school or ship your belongings there).

Personal details

  • Make living arrangements. Whether you are living in an apartment, with parents, or staying in on-campus housing, you should be figuring out where you will live as soon as possible. Additionally, you should be trying to locate a roommate if you plan on renting an apartment with someone else. Join social media groups for your law school class or speak directly with your school to see if they have a roommate matching system.
  • Take care of anything and everything in your personal life that you can. Get your car serviced, change your cell phone plan, go to the dentist, book necessary travel arrangements, open a bank account in your new city…do anything that you can take care of now. You will not want to spend precious free time on these things later.
  • Go to the doctor and update your vaccinations–law schools will require it. Start or maintain good exercise and eating habits–it’s easier to maintain these than to start them during the semester!
  • Embrace starting over. You have been given a clean slate, so use it wisely. Don’t start law school by being the person who brags about their big scholarship/LSAT score/undergrad accomplishments. Conversely, don’t be intimidated by people in your class with a higher LSAT score/scholarship–frequently the people who will end up at the top of the law school class are not who you would have predicted. You have made it here, you deserve to be here, now embrace the opportunity to start with a clean slate!
  • Finally, WORK HARD from Day 1! 1L grades and class rank are VERY important and will determine things like: whether you can write for a law journal, whether you can participate in moot court, and whether you can interview with law firms before your 2L year in On Campus Interviews (OCI). Start developing a consistent study schedule and the discipline to stick to it. 1L year is not the time to sit back and coast while you adjust to a new life. Remember that law school classes are curved, so by design, everyone will NOT get an A. It is critical not to fall behind on your coursework during the first semester.

 

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Fall 2019 Course Suggestions

Still looking for some fall courses? As you know, students in ANY major can attend law school, and there are NO specifically required courses for pre-law undergrads. However, given an interest in law, here are some fall courses that pre-law students may find particularly helpful and interesting. CLICK ON THIS LINK for a handy chart version of Fall 2019 course options. These courses are only suggestions and are not requirements. Check out Course Explorer and speak to your academic advisor about the best courses for you.

NONE of these classes is REQUIRED for law school. How did we pick them? We’ve simply chosen courses that build skills law schools like to see and/or cover topics of interest to many pre-law studentsPlease be aware that some of these classes listed and other summer classes have prerequisites. Check Course Explorer for details.

For more info on selecting courses that build academic skills for law school, visit this blog post.

AAS 370/LLS 372: Immigration, Law, and Rights. Exploration of the histories, cultures and experiences of immigration to the US by examining cultural production (literary and visual narratives and texts) alongside legal discourses (legislation, federal court cases).

ACE 240: Personal Financial Planning–Understanding financial instruments and tax implications is critical for many lawyers

ACE 306: Food Law and ACE 406: Environmental Law

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 and the role of law and ethics in public relations.

Community Health courses are helpful for people interested in healthcare law, such as

  • CHLH 100: Contemporary Health
  • CHLH 101: Intro to Public Health

Communication courses are helpful, as all lawyers must demonstrate strong oral and written communication skills.

  • CMN 101: Public Speaking (this is a prereq for most upper level CMN courses)
  • CMN 211: Business Communication
  • CMN 310: The Rhetorical Tradition
  • 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.

EDUC 202: Social Justice, School & Society

English courses help develop writing, research, and analysis skills.

  • ENGL 199: Career Planning for Humanities Majors
  • ENGL 360: Environmental Writing (same as ESE 360)

ESE 210: Social & Environmental Issues and ESE 466: Environmental Policy for those interested in environmental law

FIN 241: Fundamentals of Real Estate A survey of real estate finance, appraisal, investment, law, brokerage, management, development and economics.

FSHN 101: Intro to Food Science & Nutrition Discusses the evolution of the food system to meet the needs and desires of a complex, heterogeneous society. Provides an overview of food in relation to nutrition and health, composition and chemistry, microbiology, safety, processing, preservation, laws and regulations, quality, and the consumer.

Geography courses may be particularly engaging for students interested in environmental issues, global politics, and/or international legal issues

  • GEOG 101: Global Development & Environment 
  • GEOG 210: Social & Environmental Issues

GLBL 100: Intro to Global Studies; GLBL 260: Global Human Rights; GLBL 340: Policy & Governance

GWS 387/HIST 387: History of Sexuality in the U.S. Explores a wide variety of sources to understand how notions of sexuality have emerged and been contested at key moments in U.S. history. Our guiding questions include: How have “official” or governing discourses of sexuality (in law, medicine, religions, science) been formulated? In turn, how have “ordinary” people understood and practiced their sexuality? How has the meaning of particular sexual practices changed over time?

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

LAW 301: Introduction to Law
Serves as a general foundation course for those interested in applying to law school.

Labor & Employment Relations offers multiple courses for undergraduates on labor law and employment law issues, including:

  • LER 100: Introduction to Labor Studies
  • LER 290: Introduction to Employment Law
  • LER 320: Gender, Race, Class, and Work

Philosophy options include:

  • PHIL 102: Logic & Reasoning This course is particularly 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 This course includes some basic exploration of ethics, including looking at the relationship between social morality and the law.
  • PHIL 436: Philosophy of Law and of the State

Political Science options to explore specific legal areas include:

  • PS 101: Intro to US Government & Politics
  • PS 199: Politics, Power and Protest
  • PS 220: Intro to Public Policy
  • PS 225: Environmental Politics & Policy
  • PS 280: Intro to International Relations
  • PS 301/302: US Constitution I &II are helpful primers for law school
  • PS 306: Judicial Politics
  • PS 313: Congress and Foreign Policy
  • PS 329: Immigration & Citizenship
  • PS 491: Internship with the Champaign County Public Defender’s Office Unlike other internships that require a substantial research project completed in conjunction with the internship itself for academic credit, credit in this program is based on class meetings and structured assignments that integrate readings on political systems, the legal system, and constitutional and human rights, with on-the-job experience summarizing case files, witnessing trials and colloquies, and interviewing witnesses and clients. Students are supervised by the Champaign County Public Defender or attorneys in the office. Applications are due Thursday, April 4, by Noon.  To apply, click on this link: https://forms.illinois.edu/sec/7215596 .  For more information, go here: https://pol.illinois.edu/academics/undergraduate-program/internships.

PSYC 468: Psych and Law
Examines relationship of the administrative, civil, and criminal justice systems to educational and mental health institutions; individual rights, social issues, and psychological well being.

  • SOC 275: Criminology
  • SOC 373: Social Inequality
  • SOC 378: Sociology of Law

SOCW 200: Intro to Social Work studies systemic social issues and resources, working with vulnerable populations

Other courses to explore different areas of law include:

  • JOUR 199: Free Speech & the Right to Offend (2nd 8 weeks) What is the law of Hate Speech? Cross Burning? Flag burning? Can you say the F-word? The N-word? Can a judge or the government do anything about it? This course separates the law from the B.S. and informs you in clear terms what you do and do not have a Constitutional right to say and do in America.
  • JOUR 311: Media Law Detailed analysis of the theories of freedom of expression, the legal doctrines of greatest concern to mass communicators, and contemporary issues related to free speech and press, including libel, copyright, and news-gathering in a digital age.
  • REL 214: Introduction to Islam History of Islamic thought from the time of Muhammad to the present, including the prophethood of Muhammad, the Qur’an, theology and law, mysticism and philosophy, sectarian movements, modernism and legal reform, and contemporary resurgence.
  • RST 225: Environmental Politics & Policy (cross listed as PS 225) Examinations of the political, economic, ecological, and cultural trade-offs between the use and the preservation of the environment, with particular emphasis on the preservation of land and water resources in national parks, forests, and other reserved lands.
  • RST 354: Legal Aspects of Sport A study of legal principles and their impact on the sport industry; the course examines the application of different areas of law including tort, contract, constitutional, anti-trust, and intellectual property law to professional, amateur and recreational sport.
  • SE 400: Engineering Law – note – only prerequisite is Rhet 105. Course covers: nature and development of the legal system; legal rights and duties important to engineers in their professions; contracts, uniform commercial code and sales of goods, torts, agency, worker’s compensation, labor law, property, environmental law, intellectual property.
  • TE 450: Startups: Incorporate, Fund, Contracts, Intellectual Property Explore legal tools used in constructing and operating companies. Topics include: issues with business formation, intellectual property, NDA, contracts, and other corporate legal issues impacting startups.
  • UP 211: Local Planning, Government and Law Provides students with a basic understanding of the governmental structure, legal aspects, and practice of local municipal planning, with special emphasis on case law, constitutional principles, zoning, subdivision regulations and comprehensive planning. Gives an introduction for students interested in pursuing more advanced studies in land use law and local government planning.

Remember that these are only suggestions and that none of these courses is required for law school.  Further, 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 courses that are the best fit for you.

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Summer 2019 Course Options

Many summer classes are offered either in person or online through the University of Illinois. Take a look at Course Explorer (available here) and you’ll see lots of great options for pre-law students, like these that we’ve highlighted below. CLICK THIS LINK for a handy chart version of summer course options: Summer Classes for Pre-Law 2019.

NONE of these classes is REQUIRED for law school. How did we pick them? We’ve simply chosen courses that build skills law schools like to see and/or cover topics of interest to many pre-law studentsPlease be aware that some of these classes listed and other summer classes have prerequisites. Check Course Explorer for details.

Law 199:  The Best of American Case Law (in person)

This is a 10-day summer course designed to introduce undergrads 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 range of different areas of the law, and engage with nationally renowned law faculty as they present some of the most important legal cases. Following class, students will have the opportunity to eat lunch with the professor and learn more about the class and/or law school. Afternoons will be spent engaged in a focused study and briefing of the next day’s cases, optional social outings, and informational sessions. 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 2, 2019; 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. daily.

PS 100: Introduction to Political Science (online)

Surveys the major concepts and approaches employed in the study of politics. Note: Credit is not given for both PS 100 and PS 200.

PS 224: Politics of the National Parks (both in person and online)

Credit: 2 or 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/

Political Science 280: Intro to Intl Relations (online)

3 credit hours; Structure and processes of international relations, trends in international politics, and the future of the international system.

CMN 101: Public Speaking (in person)

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.

CMN 210: Public Comm in Everyday Life (online)

Credit: 3 Hours. Introduces concepts useful for the critical analysis of public communication in everyday life. Drawing on communication theory and practice, especially theories of rhetoric, the course investigates techniques of persuasion, offers tools for critical analysis of public discourse, and considers the political and ethical implications of various forms of public communication.

CMN 340: Visual Politics (online)

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.
BADM 300: The Legal Environment of Business (online)

Credit: 3 hours. Introduction to law and the legal system, litigation, contracts, business organizations, intellectual property, employment law and governmental regulation of business.

EPS 310/AAS 310/AFRO 310/LLS 310: Race and Cultural Diversity (online)

Credit: 4 hours. Note: This is an Advanced Comp. Study of race and cultural diversity from Colonial era to present; the evolution of racial ideology in an ethnically heterogeneous society; the impact of race on the structures and operations of fundamental social institutions; the role of race in contemporary politics and popular culture.

ESE 360/ENGL 360: Environmental Writing (online)

Credit: 3 hours. Note: This is an Advanced Comp that may be a good choice for students interested in environmental law. Equips students to write about the environment for various audiences, with a focus on specific current efforts to promote sustainability on the Urbana-Champaign campus. We will practice effective techniques for each stage of the writing process-from defining topics, to gathering information, to crafting active, engaging prose. Readings will include models of effective environmental writing and “how to” pieces by experts. Research will include visits to campus sites and student-conducted interviews with subjects.

GEOG 210/ESE 210: Social & Environmental Issues (online)

Credit: 3 hours. Introduction to the complex relationship between people and the natural environment from a social science perspective. Explores different approaches to environmental issues, and examines the role of population change, political economy, technologies, environmental policymaking, and social institutions in causing and resolving contemporary social and environmental global issues.

GWS 100/HDFS 140/SOC 130: Intro Gender & Women’s Studies (online)

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.

GLBL 100: Intro to Global Studies (online)

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 (in person)

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. Note: Summer Sessions 1 and 2 cover different topics and eras.

INFO 303: Writing Across Media (in person)

Credit: 3 hours. The ability to communicate effectively in multiple types of media is a crucial part of literacy in our society. In this course, students will explore the intersections of various media: print, film, images, sound, etc. Students will consider the ways in which writing–as an object and as a practice–is shaped by multimodal interactions. Also integrates practical activities with broader theoretical issues in order to provide effective strategies for designing multimedia presentations, projects, and texts that integrate photography, video, and sound.

Summer Institute for Languages in 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. SILMW is 8 weeks long. It runs during Summer II Session. Students can earn anywhere from 3 to 10 credits for these courses.

SILMW offers the following languages:

  • Arabic
  • Persian
  • Swahili
  • Turkish
  • Wolof

Click here for course descriptions and additional details on the Summer Institute.

 

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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.

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Course Options for Fall 2018

Still looking for some fall courses? As you know, students in ANY major can attend law school, and there are NO specifically required courses for pre-law undergrads. However, given an interest in law, here are some fall courses that pre-law students may find particularly helpful and interesting. These courses are only suggestions and are not requirements. Check out Course Explorer and speak to your academic advisor about the best courses for you.

For more info on building academic skills for law school, visit the March 16 blog post.

AAS 375/LLS 377: Prisons, Race and Terror. Examination of the U.S. prison regime, focusing on three dimensions of U.S. imprisonment — criminal justice, immigrant detention, and martial imprisonment, particularly under the War on Terror. 

ACE 240: Personal Financial Planning–Understanding financial instruments and tax implications is critical for many lawyers

ACE 306: Food Law and ACE 406: Environmental Law

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 and the role of law and ethics in public relations.

Community Health courses are helpful for people interested in healthcare law, such as

  • CHLH 100: Contemporary Health
  • CHLH 101: Intro to Public Health

Communication courses are helpful, as all lawyers must demonstrate strong oral and written communication skills.

  • CMN 101: Public Speaking (this is a prereq for most upper level CMN courses)
  • CMN 211: Business Communication
  • CMN 310: The Rhetorical Tradition
  • 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.

EDUC 202: Social Justice, School & Society

English courses help develop writing, research, and analysis skills.

  • ENGL 199: Career Planning for Humanities Majors
  • ENGL 310: Introduction to the Study of the English Language (Unprotected Speech)
  • ENGL 360: Environmental Writing (same as ESE 360)

ESE 210: Social & Environmental Issues and ESE 466: Environmental Policy for those interested in environmental law

FIN 214: Fundamentals of Real Estate A survey of real estate finance, appraisal, investment, law, brokerage, management, development and economics.

Geography courses may be particularly engaging for students interested in environmental issues, global politics, and/or international legal issues

  • GEOG 101: Global Development & Environment 
  • GEOG 210: Social & Environmental Issues

GLBL 100: Intro to Global Studies, GLBL 220: Governance, and GLBL 260: Global Human Rights

HIST 395: Topics in Law and Society

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

LAW 301: Introduction to Law

  • Serves as a general foundation course for those interested in applying to law school.

Labor & Employment Relations offers multiple courses for undergraduates on labor law and employment law issues, including:

  • LER 100: Introduction to Labor Studies
  • LER 290: Introduction to Employment Law
  • LER 320: Gender, Race, Class, and Work

LLS 468: Latinas/os & the Law

Examines the Latina/Latino experience in the U.S. how and when the law, through the courts, has most often operated as an instrument of subordination and oppression, but has also at times been leveraged for positive social transformation. Students will come to understand that the law is a deeply contested social space that is central to U.S. social hierarchies based upon race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, class, immigration status, and religion.

Philosophy options include:

  • PHIL 102: Logic & Reasoning This course is particularly 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 This course includes some basic exploration of ethics, including looking at the relationship between social morality and the law.
  • PHIL 436: Philosophy of Law and of the State

Political Science options to explore specific legal areas include:

  • PS 225: Environmental Politics & Policy
  • PS 280: Intro to International Relations
  • PS 301/302: US Constitution I &II are helpful primers for law school
  • PS 312: Politics and the Media
  • PS 313: Congress and Foreign Policy
  • PS 322: Law and Public Policy or PS 220: Intro to Public Policy
  • PS 323: Law & Representation
  • PS 491: Internship with the Champaign County Public Defender’s Office Unlike other internships that require a substantial research project completed in conjunction with the internship itself for academic credit, credit in this program is based on class meetings and structured assignments that integrate readings on political systems, the legal system, and constitutional and human rights, with on-the-job experience summarizing case files, witnessing trials and colloquies, and interviewing witnesses and clients. Students are supervised by the Champaign County Public Defender or attorneys in the office. Stay tuned for updates regarding the application process for this exciting opportunity. For more information, go here: https://pol.illinois.edu/academics/undergraduate-program/internships.

Note – beginning in the Fall of 2018, the Political Science Department will be introducing a new curriculum, featuring concentrations in the following areas: General Political Science; Citizen Politics; Civic Leadership; International Relations; Law & Power; Public Policy & Democratic Institutions; and World Politics.  For more information on these changes, go here.

PSYC 468: Psych and Law

  • Examines relationship of the administrative, civil, and criminal justice systems to educational and mental health institutions; individual rights, social issues, and psychological well being.

Sociology introduced its Criminology, Law and Society Minor last fall.  Some interesting class offerings there include:

  • SOC 275: Criminology
  • SOC 477/479: Law and Society

SOCW 200: Intro to Social Work studies systemic social issues and resources, working with vulnerable populations

Other courses to explore different areas of law include:

  • JOUR 311: Media Law Detailed analysis of the theories of freedom of expression, the legal doctrines of greatest concern to mass communicators, and contemporary issues related to free speech and press, including libel, copyright, and news-gathering in a digital age. 
  • RST 225: Environmental Politics & Policy (cross listed as PS 225) Examinations of the political, economic, ecological, and cultural trade-offs between the use and the preservation of the environment, with particular emphasis on the preservation of land and water resources in national parks, forests, and other reserved lands.
  • RST 354: Legal Aspects of Sport A study of legal principles and their impact on the sport industry; the course examines the application of different areas of law including tort, contract, constitutional, anti-trust, and intellectual property law to professional, amateur and recreational sport.
  • SE 400: Engineering Law – note – only prerequisite is Rhet 105. Course covers: nature and development of the legal system; legal rights and duties important to engineers in their professions; contracts, uniform commercial code and sales of goods, torts, agency, worker’s compensation, labor law, property, environmental law, intellectual property.
  • TE 450: Startups: Incorporate, Fund, Contracts, Intellectual Property Explore legal tools used in constructing and operating companies. Topics include: issues with business formation, intellectual property, NDA, contracts, and other corporate legal issues impacting startups.
  • UP 211: Local Planning, Government and Law Provides students with a basic understanding of the governmental structure, legal aspects, and practice of local municipal planning, with special emphasis on case law, constitutional principles, zoning, subdivision regulations and comprehensive planning. Gives an introduction for students interested in pursuing more advanced studies in land use law and local government planning.

Remember that these are only suggestions and that none of these courses is required for law school.  Further, 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 courses that are the best fit for you.

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Guide to selecting pre-law coursework for Illinois students

Each semester, we post a list of upcoming courses that will help pre-law students develop relevant skills for law school and get a taste of what studying law is like. What else should you know about building your pre-law schedule? This Guide provides several tips and suggestions to help pre-law students make the most of your upcoming semesters.

Pre-Law students really can major in ANYTHING and be successful in law school, but you must be a strong student in whatever you choose. Therefore, carefully consider what major(s) and minor(s) will challenge you but also allow you to demonstrate your academic strengths. Explore all majors and minors on campus here.

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. This is especially important if you struggle academically for more than one semester–it is very challenging to fix a low GPA once obtained.

We recommend that you avoid making course selections for these reasons:

  • A friend/roommate/sibling/parent said the class was easy;
  • I only wanted classes in the afternoons/on Tu/Th/to complement my work schedule so I just picked what I could get into on those days;
  • I just 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.

Plan far in advance for study abroad, Illinois in Washington, and taking the LSAT. Most students try to lighten their academic load during the spring of Junior year or during the fall of Senior year while they prep for the LSAT. Studying for the LSAT will take about 10-15 hours per week for 4-6 months. Review upcoming LSAT dates and deadlines here. If you are planning to study abroad or do Illinois in Washington, talk to a pre-law advisor about planning your LSAT options around those.

Monitor your academic performance and seek help. Don’t wait until the last week of class to discover that you are actually not earning an A. Seek help when you need it–this University abounds with programs and services to support your academic endeavors! Start by talking to your TA/Professor and your academic advisor about academic support and tutoring options.

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.

 

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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.

 

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Spring 2018 Course Options for Pre-Law Students: Part 1

This is Part 1 of a 2 part series on course selections for pre-law students. This post will present many different course options to consider. 

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. 

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.

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

ENGL 310: Unprotected Speech. Description from the instructor:

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, and the recent clash between the First and Second Amendments in Charlottesville, and free-speech issues at Yale, Berkeley, Missouri, and the U of I, as well as other campuses, 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 indefensible; 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 moot court on a current free-speech court case.

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

HDFS 120: Intro to Family Studies and SW 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 Judicial System. Enrollment in this class, which meets on Fridays from   1-4 pm, is limited to 12 students. Here are course details and application procedures directly from the course instructor:

The purpose of the class is to take a deep dive into the criminal justice system.  Every other week we go off campus to visit state and federal judges, prosecutors, public defenders, legal aid lawyers, and other legal professionals.   We learn what they do, how they do it, and what is both challenging and rewarding about their jobs.  We also observe court proceedings, and see what happens in state and federal courts.

On the alternate weeks, we gather in the College of Law classroom to review the textbook content, take short quizzes, discuss prior visits, and prepare for upcoming visits.  We also ponder the social and legal inequalities that pervade the justice system through movie clips describing cases of particular noteworthiness.  In short, we work to become familiar with the justice system and the people who support it, and we think about the many challenges it must address.

If you are interested in applying, please prepare a document with the following information:

1) Your name and email address;
2) Why this course interests you;
3) What you hope to learn during the semester; and
4) How you will manage your schedule so that you will be available Friday afternoons for our class meetings and field trips.

Please bring a paper copy of your application document–by October 27–to the College of Law, Room 338  (for our Undergraduate Studies Coordinator, Ellen Rund).  If no one is in the office, you may slip the application under the door.  (Documents often come to us that way.) Students will be contacted the following week with offers of admission. 

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 436: Philosophy of Law and the State. Explores broad philosophical legal issues.

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 301/302: US Constitution I &II are both helpful primers for law school
  • PS 303/313: The US Congress/Congress and Foreign Policy
  • PS 280: Intro to International Relations

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

  • SOC 226: Political Sociology
  • SOC 275: Criminology
  • SOC 378: Law and Society

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

  • ACE 403: Agricultural Law
  • JOUR 311: Media Law
  • RST 354: Legal Aspects of Sport
  • SE 400 Engineering Law
  • GEOG 210: Social & Environmental Issues
  • UP 211: Local Planning, Government and Law

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

Remember that these are only suggestions.  Further, 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.

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