Earlham’s pre-law track, although not narrowly a pre-professional program, attracts many students who are interested in a career in law. Students who expect to attend law school after receiving their B.A. should know that the best law schools welcome students who have had the sort of broad liberal arts education that Earlham offers. Many Earlham students attend law school after graduating from Earlham having majored in such diverse fields as politics, philosophy, English, history and economics (to name a few), and have enjoyed successful legal careers. According to HEDS, Earlham is ranked in the 89th percentile among institutions of higher learning in the U.S. in the percentage of graduates who go on to receive Ph.D.s in law.
PRE-LAW TRACK + SERIES
Earlham offers a challenging undergraduate education in a variety of majors that prepare you for entry into law school. Like most colleges and universities, Earlham does not offer a major or minor specifically called ‘pre-law,’ because there is no single path to a legal education. Students may choose to major in subjects considered to be traditional preparation for law school, such as History, English, Philosophy, Politics, Public Policy, or Economics. But successful candidates come from every discipline, which means students won’t hurt their chances by studying in areas as diverse as art, music, or science. Instead of fixating on a specific major, we encourage students to pursue an area of study that interests and challenges them.
An Earlham education is extraordinarily well designed to prepare students to excel in law school because of the emphasis we place on developing research and writing skills. To succeed in their legal education and as a legal professional, students must have exceptionally well-honed abilities in these critical areas. The day-to-day work of practicing attorneys is overwhelmingly dedicated to conducting legal research and writing various legal documents, ranging from briefs to contracts to wills. The best attorneys are those who also have the skills necessary to develop complex legal arguments to support the interests of their clients. At Earlham, much of our curriculum is dedicated to developing these competencies. This begins in the first year, as students complete Earlham Seminar I and II. While these seminars introduce students to successful participation in a learning community and encourage new ways of engaging and understanding the world, they also begin the process of teaching students to effectively construct scholarly arguments and write persuasively. The foundation laid by these seminars is built upon in the sophomore year with a Writing Intensive course, which provides an opportunity to write in multiple formats and contexts as well as the chance to incorporate copious faculty feedback to continually improve specific assignments. Finally, the curriculum is rounded off with the Senior Capstone Experience, where most students have an opportunity to take on a lengthy research paper that hones skills gained during their four years. By the time our students leave campus, these various components of their Earlham education have prepared for them for successful legal research and writing.
Courses in the pre-law track seek to provide an understanding of the role of law in American society. Students can examine major court decisions, the structure of the nation’s legal system, and the theoretical and philosophical assumptions about the law. They can also gain additional skills and knowledge important for law school success, including: critical reading and thinking, verbal communication, collaborative work, and perhaps most importantly an understanding of key social justice issues. By navigating the recommended courses, as well as taking advantage of opportunities for legal internships, students will additionally be in an excellent position to make a decision regarding whether to pursue a law degree after completing their undergraduate education.
The pre-law series involves five to six annual events, designed specifically for our students who are seriously considering a legal education. These occasions include visits from admissions staff at prestigious law schools, movie nights preceded by a question-and-answer session with the pre-law adviser, talks from Earlham alumni who are currently attending law school or are practicing attorneys, and campus visits from test preparation representatives. Perhaps the most useful event within the series is attending Law Day at Indiana University-Bloomington, which is the largest law school fair in the Midwest–we send at least one van with students every October. Not only do these various events help students make decisions about what law schools they would like to apply to, but they also help build a cohort amongst the students who are embarking on this journey.