Legal Professions

MISSION

The mission of the Legal Professions Program at Lafayette College is to provide guidance and resources to students so that they can make informed choices about whether and how to pursue a career in law. The program encourages students at all class levels to engage with members of the faculty to explore their interests in legal issues and/or a career in law. Working closely with faculty, alumni, and Career Services, the Office of the Dean of College provides comprehensive programming designed to help students learn about legal issues and legal careers, as well as how to prepare for and apply to law school.

ADVISING

“The ABA does not recommend any undergraduate majors or group of courses to prepare for a legal education. 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, economics, or business, or you may focus your undergraduate studies in areas as diverse as art, music, science, 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. A sound legal education will build upon and further refine the skills, values, and knowledge that you already possess. The student who comes to law school lacking a broad range of basic skills and knowledge will face a difficult challenge.” (Taken from the Statement on Prelaw Preparation, Law School Admission Council website.)

Included in the ABA’s statement and listed on the LSAT website, are the core skills and values associated with success in law school:

  • Analytical/Problem-solving Skills
  • Critical Reading Abilities
  • Writing Skills
  • Oral Communication and Listening Abilities
  • General Research Skills
  • Organization and Management Skills
  • Values of Serving Others, Promoting Justice
  • General Knowledge

Because there is no particular academic program identified for law school preparation, Lafayette students are encouraged to take full advantage of the many resources made available to them; first among these are faculty advisers. Students who make a habit of consulting with their advisers and course instructors throughout their academic careers about areas of interest and curiosity can expect to make an informed choice about going to law school and to be best prepared for law school and a legal career.  Here is a list of faculty members in each Lafayette College academic department serving the advising needs of students exploring graduate school options. Students are also encouraged to participate consistently in the Career Services Gateway Program where they can learn more about themselves, externship and internship opportunities, and interact with alumni with their academic interests employed both in and out of the legal professions.

The Law School Admission (LSAC) website has developed a good place to start as you explore skills needed to succeed in law school, what lawyers do, and what law school is all about. As you make efforts to learn about law school and the legal professions, make sure you test your perception that everyone in law school must have just graduated from college. Nationally, it is typical for 25% of the applicant pool in any year to come from recent college graduates; another 60% are represented by applicants from 23-30 years of age. That should be encouraging to students who might like to explore the world of work or some other constructive way to engage their talents and skills before making the commitment to law school. In addition, positive world experiences can only strengthen a law school applicant’s candidacy. Finally, students are encouraged to stay open to the many alternate career options available for people drawn to the idea of being an attorney. Sometimes students find that law school is precisely what they want. And sometimes they discover that to fulfill their career goals it is not actually necessary to become an attorney.

Students interested in receiving Legal Professions program announcements via email should contact Karen Clemence, senior associate dean of the College. In addition to a series of lunch-hour law school application presentations, Dean Clemence provides individualized advice to students who have made the decision to apply to law school. She assists students as they consider their options to prepare for and take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), assemble critical application materials, develop strong application strategies, and select a law school to attend.

To make an appointment with Dean Clemence, please call (610) 330-5080 or email to Karen Clemence.