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Law school offers new summer pre-law courses to undergraduate students

The Wake Forest University is excited to announce it will once again offer a Summer Pre-law Program for undergraduates taught by Law Professors Wilson Parker and Chris Coughlin, and Communication Professors Jarrod Atchison and John Llewellyn.

The program consists of two courses that will be taught in the law school but will qualify for credit from the undergraduate college: “Legal Theory, Practice, and Communication” (Communication 370D) and “Advocacy, Debate, and the Law” (Communication 370E).

“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.

“Legal Theory, Practice and Communication” 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 have offered this course for two summers and it has received rave reviews from the students,” Coughlin said.  “In fact, we are very excited that some of our students, who have applied to law school with our help, have been accepted at several top-ranked law schools or have obtained prestigious internships.  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 communication course and learned much about civics and the way that the law impacts their lives.”

Students who have taken the course seem to agree.

Ian Rutledge, Wake Forest Class of  2015, said, “This program has definitely confirmed that I want to go to law school, and has definitely confirmed for me the difficulties and advantages of going to law school.  You know, it was great to learn about the different areas of law, and Professor Coughlin and Professor Parker did a great job of making it fun and interesting for undergraduates.”

In talking with other students who have taken the class, 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 focuses on basic communication theory as well as the special demands of legal communication.  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-June 20).  Students should register via the Wake Forest College Registrar’s Office.  Summer School registration begins March 18.  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.  Further information can be found on the Wake Forest College Summer Session Website, http://college.wfu.edu/summer/.

In sum, 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.