July 31, 2017

What to Expect at a Pre-Law Academy

Helloooo! I'm back with another guest post! The office that I'm working in this summer has close ties with the law school so this summer we got two prelaw students who came and worked with us for a little bit as part of one of their classes. I got to be a mentor to one of the students and help her work on a project for our office. Long story short, she's amazing and I convinced her to do a Q&A with me so I could do a blog post over our undergrad's pre law summer program since I missed out on participating in it when I was in undergrad. 

little about today's writer Kaitlin...
Pre Law Academy | brazenandbrunette.com
School: Texas Tech University (Senior)
Major: Marketing
Minor: Public Relations

What is the Texas Tech Pre-Law Academy?

The Pre-Law Academy is a summer program available for Texas Tech students as well as students from other colleges who are interested in going to law school. Students in the program have the opportunity to take seven hours of undergraduate coursework relevant to law and the classes are taught at the Texas Tech law school. The program prepares pre-law students for the demands of law school by giving them an inside look into what a law school class is like and teaching them the ins and outs of law school and the legal profession. You can read more about the program here.

Did you have to apply for the program? 

I did have to apply. The application is posted online and included general demographic and academic history questions. In addition to the application, I had to submit a resume and one letter of recommendation. After my application was reviewed, I interviewed with the director of the program. The interview was not intensive; I was asked questions such as: “Why do you want to participate in the program?,” “What made you want to be a lawyer?,” etc. The director also went into more depth about what the program entails.

Could you take summer classes and do the program?

The program includes 7 hours of undergraduate coursework. Classes are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and include several hours of homework each night. I would not recommend taking other classes or working because the program is so intensive.

The classes include:

Argumentation and Debate (COMS 3314, 3 credit hours) — This class was comprised of reading supreme court cases relating to first amendment rights and analyzing the justices’ arguments. We discussed the type of argument he/she was making and why he/she chose to frame the argument in that way. To make the class more like law school, the professor “cold called,” meaning students would be randomly selected to discuss the reading as part of our grade. We had to be prepared to talk about every court case and reading each day. For the final, we had to write a judicial opinion about a case pending in the Supreme Court. (One of the hardest collegiate assignments I have ever had!)

Lawyering Skills: Legal Analysis & Advocacy (PLAW 4301, 3 credit hours) — This class is a condensed version of the Legal Practice course law students are required to take. We had two main assignments: a closed legal memo and an appellate argument. The closed memo was over a fictional case for which we had to write about whether the defendant in the case would be found guilty or not by analyzing Texas statute and case law. For the second project, we had to argue an appellate case where the professor (acting as a justice) would ask questions to both sides about whether or not the lower court’s decision should be overturned.

Seminar in Legal Profession (PLAW 3101, 1 credit hour) — The seminar was composed of guest speakers who came and spoke about law school and the legal profession. We learned about the law school admission process, the Bar, student wellness in law school, and much more. We also toured the Lubbock County Jail.

Legal Profession Internship (PLAW 3002) — This part of the program is optional. You may choose whether you want to complete 1, 2, or 3 credit hours. I completed my 1 hour internship at the Office of Dispute Resolution, where I worked on a pre-trial diversion project. Completing the internship added another dimension to the program, and I would highly recommend it!

What was the best part about the program?

You become close with your classmates. There were only 17 people in the program this summer, which made it much more intimate. You could always count on classmates to help out if needed. It was also nice to experience the “I’m not going to law school/ I’m going to law school” roller-coaster with others. The academy also validated my decision to go to law school, which was the biggest benefit of the program. Even though the academy was difficult, I now feel confident saying I want to be a lawyer.

What was the worst part about the program?

It was the most challenging academic experience I have ever had. I have experienced academical success since starting college and have done so without much difficulty. The classes in the academy required more effort than I had ever had to put into a class before. Although I cried, stayed up all night, and questioned my intelligence at times, I feel more confident in myself and my ability to be successful in a truly challenging academic setting.

Did the program affect your decision to study law?

Before the program, I was on the fence about attending law school. I am now 100% sure because of the program. My biggest concern was whether I would enjoy it, which I could not know without doing it first. The program gave me the opportunity to get insight into what it would be like, and I loved what I found.

Do you feel that you are more prepared for law school after this program than if you hadn't gone through the program?

I am definitely better prepared for law school after completing the program. I have gained surface knowledge that others going into law school don’t have, which gives me an advantage.

What skill did the program help you improve most? 

My reading and comprehension has improved drastically. I learned how to read quickly while still being able to understand the material. For the debate class, not only did I have to understand the case, I had to process why the justice was saying what he/she said. In the lawyering skills class, I was required to break down a statute word by word and relate it to a case. Also, we learned about how the legal system works, which was really useful not only for someone who wants to practice law, but also for any U.S. citizen.

Anything else you think people should know about the program?

I would highly recommend this program for anyone interested in going to law school. Even if you complete the program and decide that law school is not for you, that’s better than figuring that out after you start. If you do love it, then you will be better prepared for law school than your peers. It truly was an amazing experience, and I absolutely loved it!  


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