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WFU Law School offers new pre-law program to undergrads

The Wake Forest University School of Law is excited to announce a new pre-law program for undergraduates taught by Professors Wilson Parker and Chris Coughlin.

The program consists of two courses that will be taught in the law school but will qualify for credit from the undergraduate college: Lawyers and Legal Institutions (Political Science 286) and Advocacy, Debate, and the Law (Communications 370). 

 “The primary purpose of this program is to show undergraduates what law school is like,” Parker explained.  “Many college students in the past have applied to law school simply because they could not decide what else to do after graduation.  Law school is now far too expensive to engage in a ‘test drive’ for a whole year.”

The goal of the program is to give college students a realistic view of law student life and to educate them about the career opportunities of lawyers. 

“After participating in this program, some students may well decide that law school is not for them,” Coughlin said.  “Others will have their interest in law school confirmed and emerge committed, enthusiastic, and better prepared for law school and their chosen career path.”

For the latter students, the Wake Forest law school faculty members in the program are available to help them with counseling about selecting an appropriate law school and to provide guidance on the law school application process. 

“Since we will have gotten to know the students, we will also gladly write letters of recommendation about the student’s ability to do law school work,” Parker said.

Lawyers and Legal Institutions is not just a regular law school class that undergraduates are allowed to take in the summer.  Rather, it is a unique class designed to expose undergraduates to a wide variety of subjects and tasks that law students confront. 

“We offered Lawyers and Legal Institutions for the first time last summer and it received rave reviews from the students,” Coughlin said.  “In fact, we are very excited that one of our students, who applied to law school this year with our help, was accepted at several top-ranked law schools.  We know others who will apply next year.  In all likelihood, some may decide not to apply to law school.  However, these students will have still taken an excellent political science course and learned much about civics and the way that the law impacts their lives.” 

In talking with the students in last year’s class and other Wake Forest undergrads,  the professors learned there was demand for a second law school-oriented class, so that the entire summer session could occur in the law school. 

“We are excited to say we have developed Advocacy, Debate, and the Law in consultation with Wake Forest College’s nationally ranked Communications Department,” Parker said.  “This course will focus on basic communication theory as well as the special demands of legal communication.  Each student will engage in multiple public speaking exercises.  Everyone entering today’s job market needs effective oral communication skills.  Students who take this course and then go on to law school will be much better prepared for the challenges that await—whether it be participating in Socratic Dialogues in class or participating in Trial Bar or Moot Court.  Even those students who decide not to apply to law school will leave the Summer Pre-Law Program with greater self confidence and increased speaking ability, benefits that will assist them in any career.”

The two classes will be offered during Summer Session 1 (May 29-July 3).  Students should register via the Wake Forest College Registrar’s Office.  Summer School registration begins March 19.  The cost is $3,240 per course.  While a student is free to enroll in either course independently, the classes are going to be taught in a coordinated fashion.  An interested student would receive maximum benefit from enrolling in both classes.  Information about housing and financial aid is available on the Wake Forest College Summer Session Website, http://college.wfu.edu/summer/.

The Wake Forest Law School Summer Pre-Law Program for Undergraduates will feature the following qualities:

  • Classes are taught by Wake Forest Law School Professors in a “Law School” style;
  • Each class receives three hours of Wake Forest College credit;
  • Writing assignments will have individualized feedback;
  • Public speaking assignments will have individualized feedback;
  • In addition to the professors, law student teaching assistants who will be available to assist the students with assignments and to speak informally about life in law school;
  • A small student/teacher ratio will allow the students to network with Law School faculty;
  • A small student/teacher ratio will give students access to career and law school application counseling;
  • Social events will allow informal contact with Law School faculty and practicing lawyers.

“We are convinced of the educational value of this Summer Pre-Law Program for Undergraduates,”
 Parker said.

“To that end, we have gotten the Dean of the Law School to agree for this year to help to subsidize it. The Admissions Office will waive the $60 application fee for any student who attended the program this year who later applies to Wake Forest law school. Furthermore, if that student is admitted and enrolls at Wake Forest law school, the student will receive a tuition credit for the first year equal to the amount spent for tuition in attending the summer program.  That’s right—you could get the law school to pay you back for the money spent on tuition this year for the Summer Pre-Law Program!”

If you have any questions, please contact Parker at parkerjw@wfu.edu or Coughlin at coughlcn@wfu.edu.