The Pre-Law Studies Minor is an interdisciplinary program designed to give students an opportunity to prepare for a career in the law. The rigorous liberal arts education you will receive at Mars Hill University truly provides students with a broad base of knowledge and challenges them to think critically, which is invaluable for further legal study, but students who want additional rigor in preparation for law school or a career in legal support will benefit from enrolling in classes specially selected for the Pre-Law Studies Minor. The program requires courses in Political Science, Criminal Justice, English, Philosophy, History, and Business. Students will gain experience in upper level writing, research, public speaking, and thinking critically in competitive environments.
The Pre-Law Studies Minor will also assist students who want to be paralegals or legal researchers, a growing field that is invaluable in helping attorneys prepare to represent clients in legal proceedings.
The Pre-Law Studies Minor is administered within the Political Science program by Dr. Heather Hawn, who has PhD (’11) in Political Science and a JD (’97) from Campbell University Law School. Dr. Hawn practiced law in Raleigh, NC for 10 years before changing careers to become an academic. She maintains her license to practice law, regularly attends law school fairs to learn about different programs, and is a member of SAPLA (Southern Association of Pre-Law Advisors) where she can interact with law school deans and admissions counselors to learn how to best advise students in the process of applying to law school programs and the latest in scholarship opportunities. Since Dr. Hawn applied to law school herself, she is well aware of the stresses and challenges students face in undertaking this significant life decision. She regularly meets with students to personally advise them where to apply, the application process, LSAT preparation, and answer any questions they have about law school and being a lawyer. She also worked extensively with paralegals and legal researchers and can advise students interested in those careers about what attorneys need from them and how to best navigate those careers. As a first generation college student herself, she knows how important it is to have a support system to help students who may not know where to turn in pursuing their life’s dream. She cannot wait to talk to you about your goals!
Students are admitted to law school from almost every academic discipline. You may choose to major in subjects that are considered to be traditional preparation for law school, such as history, English, philosophy, political science, criminal justice, economics, or business, or you may focus your undergraduate studies in areas as diverse as art, music, science and mathematics, computer science, engineering, nursing or education. Whatever major you select, you are encouraged to pursue an area of study that interests and challenges you, while taking advantage of opportunities to develop your research and writing skills. Taking a broad range of difficult courses from demanding instructors is excellent preparation for legal education.
Students are encouraged to take classes and engage in internships that promote the following:
- Analytic / Problem Solving Skills
- Critical Reading
- Writing Skills
- Oral Communication / Listening Abilities
- General Research Skills
- Task Organization / Management Skills
- Public Service and Promotion of Justice
In addition to the fundamental skills and values listed above, there are some basic areas of knowledge that are helpful to a legal education and to the development of a competent lawyer. Some of the types of knowledge that would maximize your ability to benefit from a legal education include:
- A broad understanding of history, including the various factors (social, political, economic, and cultural) that have influenced the development of our society in the United States.
- A fundamental understanding of political thought and of the contemporary American political system.
- Some basic mathematical and financial skills, such as an understanding of basic pre-calculus mathematics and an ability to analyze financial data.
- A basic understanding of human behavior and social behavior.
- An understanding of diverse cultures within and beyond the United States, of international institutions and issues, of world events, and of the increasing interdependence of the nations and communities within our world.
Fortunately, there are many classes at Mars Hill University that promote these fundamental skills and knowledge. Please discuss your course selections with your advisor or with Dr. Hawn.
The Law School Admission Test must be taken by any student applying to an ABA approved law school. Students should take this test as soon as possible during their junior year and often find that they need to take the test more than once to achieve the score that they desire. Students are encouraged to create an account on www.lsac.org and spend considerable time in their LSAT preparation.
North Carolina ABA Approved Law Schools:
- Campbell University School of Law – Raleigh
- Duke University School of Law – Durham
- Elon University – Greensboro
- North Carolina Central University – Durham
- University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
- Wake Forest University – Winston-Salem
Mars Hill University routinely invites deans of admission, law professors, judges, practicing attorneys, and paralegals to speak to students about their career options and how to successfully plan their futures. Please read our Alumni Stories as we are very proud of our graduates who have been accepted and completed their law studies in a variety of prestigious law schools including William and Mary, College of Charleston School of Law, West Virginia University, and Penn State, among others and have gone on to careers in criminal law, private practice, and governmental agencies.