Academics at Wesleyan

Preparing for Law School

Law schools have long recognized that liberal arts institutions provide the best possible preparation for future attorneys. They look for students who possess particular intellectual skills: the ability to think critically, analyze a situation, extract pertinent information, and communicate effectively, both orally and in writing. Although many colleges and universities offer specific pre-law curricula, law schools themselves give no special weight to this background. As long as a student acquires the necessary skills as an undergraduate, he or she can major in literally any field before attending law school.

Academic Preparation

Popular subjects of study for pre-law students traditionally include history, government, economics, English, American studies and philosophy. Increasingly, however, science majors and students with a background in the performing arts are also in demand, given the special background required for new legislation dealing with intellectual property.

Within Wesleyan's broad liberal arts curriculum, students will find many courses in a variety of departments specifically related to law.

Student Government

Wesleyan's Student Assembly, the student government organization, is influential within the community. Its members are actively engaged in determining the policies of the University. Students regularly take part in committees and ad hoc task forces along with faculty and administrators.

Debate

The Woodrow Wilson Debate Society, founded by American President and former Wesleyan professor, Woodrow Wilson, in 1903, allows students to analyze issues and practice effective oratory skills. In past years, Wesleyan debaters, competing in off-topic parliamentary debate, have captured first place at the annual Harvard, Princeton, Brown, Georgetown, Columbia, and Williams tournaments, and have reached the semi-finals of all other major tournaments. Students have even competed internationally.   In 1990, a team of Wesleyan debaters won the 1990 National Championships and argued their way to ninth place in the World Student Debating Championships.

Community Service

Wesleyan students have the opportunity to participate in community service related to law, including work with Connecticut Legal Services, a nonprofit organization that assists people who could not otherwise afford legal advice. Others work for the United Labor Agency, the Consumer Protection Agency, the Legal Defense and Education fund and for private firms in Middletown. Volunteer positions are also available through the Middletown Federal Courthouse, located about five blocks from campus.  Through the Career Resource Center, many students arrange to meet with some of the 1,750 Wesleyan graduates who work in the legal profession.

Advising and Counseling

The Career Resource Center provides counseling for students considering law careers, ranging from a general overview of the legal profession, to the necessary academic procedures, admissions procedures, and specific characteristics of various law schools. Wesleyan students and graduates are encouraged to meet with an advisor individually, attend informational workshops, use CRC's resource library, and seek faculty assistance in determining which law schools would provide the best experience for them. 

Each year Wesleyan students applying to law school have consistently attended the top law schools in the country. More than thirty law school admissions representatives interview students at Wesleyan each fall.

In 1998, 104 of the 126 Wesleyan applicants (both seniors and alumni/ae) were admitted to law schools, including those of Columbia, Fordham, Georgetown, Harvard, Yale, UC Berkeley, American University, and New York University, among others.

 

After law school, Wesleyan graduates pursue a variety of careers in the law. Some have used their legal training as preparation for a career in another field, including politics and academics. Many alumni have achieved prominence in corporate law, law school faculty, public interest law, environmental law, tax law, and international law. Some of these include:

Alan Ward '52 Baker & Hostetler (Retired)
The Hon. Terry Hatter '54 U.S. District Court Judge, Los Angeles
The Hon. Anthony Scirica '62 U.S. Court of Appeals Judge, Philadelphia
Steven Pfeiffer '69 Fulbright & Jaworski
Claire Reade '73 Arnold & Porter
Steven Cohen '75 Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft
Joseph Tringali '77 Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett
Susan Webster '77 Cravath, Swaine & Moore
Mary McGarry '79 Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett
Kofi Appenteng '81 Thacher, Profitt & Wood
Christopher Lynch '81

Halloran & Sage