The University of Scranton Pre-Law Advisory Program is a pre-professional non-curricular program designed to help students navigate the law school application process. It offers guidance regarding course selection, LSAT timing, personal statement writing, obtaining letters of recommendation, application procedures, and law school selection during all four years of a student’s undergraduate experience. The program also offers services and law school application guidance to University of Scranton alumni.
The University is justly proud of its tradition in providing students seeking careers in the law with a solid preparation for the demands of legal study and practice. Scranton graduates in all regions of the nation have achieved distinction in virtually every area of the law, including a member who served as a clerk to the late William Rehnquist, former Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
The clearest measure of the strength of the University’s Pre-Law Advisory Program is the remarkable success its graduates have had in winning admittance to law schools throughout the country. Recent graduates have been admitted to many prestigious law schools, including Berkeley, Chicago, Georgetown, Penn, American University, Boston College, Catholic University, Dickinson, Fordham, Notre Dame, Penn, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Temple, and Villanova.
No specific undergraduate major is required for admission to law school; The American Bar Association’s statement on Preparation for Legal Education does not recommend any particular group of either majors or individual courses, noting that “the law is too multifaceted, and the human mind too adaptable, to permit such a linear approach to preparing for law school or the practice of law.” The ABA statement, however, does describe certain skills and values that are essential to success in law school and competent practice. These are:
- Analytic and Problem Solving skills, involving critical thinking and the ability to structure and evaluate arguments for and against propositions;
- Critical Reading Abilities, derived from substantial experience in the close reading and critical analysis of complex texts;
- Writing Skills, developed through rigorous practice in preparing and revising original pieces of substantial length;
- Oral Communication and Listening Abilities, based on experience in giving and evaluating formal presentations;
- Research and Time Management Skills, involving the ability to plan a research strategy, to undertake substantial library work, and to organize large amounts of information within a fixed period of time; and, not least of all,
- A Commitment to Serving Others and Promoting Justice, based on significant experience in service projects as an undergraduate.
Students can acquire these skills by majoring or minoring in any discipline that involves intensive reading and extensive writing such as English, history, philosophy, or political science. Having some training in logical and argumentative analysis is also important. At the same time, students who have majored in other areas, including languages, management, any of the social sciences, as well as the natural sciences, have enjoyed success in the study and practice of law. Ultimately, the best preparation for law school is taking challenging courses from demanding professors.
In addition to these skills and values, the ABA has identified several more areas of knowledge that pre-law students should acquire as undergraduates, and the University’s General Education Program provides a framework whereby these can be acquired through the following requirements.
- A broad understanding of American history (HIST 110 - HIST 111)
- A fundamental understanding of political thought and the American political system (PS 120 - PS 121)
- A basic understanding of ethical theory (PHIL 210)
- A grounding in economics, especially microeconomic theory (ECO 153)
- An understanding of basic pre-calculus mathematics (MATH 106 or equivalent)
- A basic understanding of human behavior and social interaction (PSYC 110 or SOC 110)
- An understanding of diverse cultures within and beyond the United States (the 6-credit cultural-diversity GE requirement)
Legal Studies Concentration
To supplement a student’s choice of major and to help pre-law students structure their undergraduate curriculum, the University also offers an interdisciplinary Legal Studies Concentration. The concentration provides pre-law students with a curriculum that can both advance participants’ understanding of the law and develop the skills necessary for success in law school. The concentration also seeks to instill in students a sense of justice and a commitment to the common good that is consistent with the Jesuit and Catholic mission of the University. At the heart of the curriculum is an introductory course—Legal Studies Fundamentals (INTD 115)—designed with these aims of the concentration in mind. In addition to this introductory course, four more courses must be chosen from a list of offerings that align with the aims of the program and can be tailored to meet the needs of the individual student. For more information, see the corresponding entry for the Legal Studies Concentration in this catalog. Pre-law students who do not pursue the Legal Studies Concentration should nevertheless consult the list of courses included in the program.
Interested students with a grade point average above 3.00 at the time of application may, with the approval of the appropriate dean, receive academic credit for internships served in the offices of either private law firms or various legal agencies such as the district attorney, public defender, or district magistrate. Prior approval of the planned internship is necessary. A minimum of 120 hours work is required for internship credit in PS 280 . Application forms for these internships are available from the Registrar’s Office. Numerous pre-law internships not for academic credit are available and can be found primarily, but not exclusively, through the Center for Career Development.
Pre-Law Advisory Council
A pre-law advisory council headed by Dr. Matthew Meyer, Director of the Pre-Law Advisory Program, provides continuing advice on course selection, career planning, and the law school application process. He is assisted by Drs. Gretchen Van Dyke and Joel Kemp, co-moderators of the student-run Pre-Law Society, along with faculty members from the departments of Communication, Criminal Justice, English, History, Management, and Political Science.
The Pre-Law Society
Established in 1966, The University of Scranton Pre-Law Society is the longest standing organization on campus. It is a student-run club co-moderated by Drs. Gretchen Van Dyke and Joel Kemp. The goal of the society is to work in conjunction with the pre-law advisor to provide students with the social and networking component of the pre-law experience. We offer numerous professional opportunities in which students can meet with alumni lawyers to ask questions, seek advice, and even discuss internship opportunities down the road.
The University of Scranton is a member of the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) and offers students the opportunity to participate on the University’s Mock Trial Team. The team is a group of dedicated students who train and compete in mock trial competitions throughout the academic year. In a mock trial competition, students serve as attorneys and witnesses and follow a typical court case process using fake case materials provided in advance. The team is comprised of students from across the university, from first-year students to seniors, who are coached by seasoned local attorneys who donate their time to developing students as mock trial competitors and people. More information about the team is available on the pre-law website.
Direct Entry Affiliation Agreement with Villanova University School of Law
The University of Scranton has a direct entry affiliation agreement with Villanova University School of Law. There are two components to this agreement. First, graduating seniors of The University of Scranton who meet minimum GPA (3.6) and LSAT (154) requirements as well as other character and fitness criteria will receive automatic admission to Villanova University School of Law. Second, third-year students (juniors) at The University of Scranton who meet minimum GPA (3.6) and LSAT (158) requirements as well as other character and fitness criteria can choose to complete up to 30 credits (roughly equivalent to one year of course work) of the undergraduate degree through the J.D. program at Villanova University School of Law. Because these credits will count toward both the bachelor and the J.D. degrees, students in this program will typically only need six—rather than seven—years to complete both degrees. Students interested in this 3-3 arrangement should contact the Director of the Pre-Law Advisory Program, Dr. Matthew Meyer, for more information.
Early Admission Agreement with Duquesne University School of Law
The University of Scranton also has an early admission agreement with Duquesne University School of Law. According to this agreement, third-year students (juniors) at The University of Scranton who meet minimum GPA (3.5) and LSAT (154) requirements as well as other character and fitness criteria can choose to complete up to 30 credits (roughly equivalent to one year of course work) of the undergraduate degree through the J.D. program at Duquesne University School of Law. Because these credits count toward both the bachelor and the J.D. degrees, students in this program will typically only need six—rather than seven—years to complete both degrees. Students interested in this 3-3 arrangement should contact the Director of the Pre-Law Advisory Program, Dr. Matthew Meyer, for more information.