Welcome to the Southeast Missouri State University Pre-Law Home Page! This page is designed to provide prospective students with information regarding our Pre-Law Program, including the nature of the curriculum, student-faculty interaction, organizations, and events.
At the outset, it is important to note that there is no "Pre-Law Major" per se; rather, exercising a variety of options available under the standard major/minor design or developing a uniquely tailored program of study through our innovative Interdisciplinary Studies major, students at Southeast have the opportunity to develop both the breadth and depth of academic preparation necessary for a successful career in law school and beyond. Consistent with the University mission, the Pre-Law program embraces and advances the University Studies goal of developing superior creative and critical thinking skills. Working closely with advisors in all academic units, students --regardless of major-- are encouraged to select courses that require them to think logically, analytically, and conceptually. Assuming that great thoughts should not be kept safely inside ones head, students are likewise encouraged to take classes designed to develop effective communication skills. Since all of our pre-law students are expected to possess exceptional reasoning and communication skills upon graduation, our curriculum includes a variety of challenging courses designed to accomplish both goals at once. For example, a typical class would require students to (1) locate and analyze scholarly, literary, or scientific material; (2) synthesize its content; (3) develop a sound argument; and (4) present results in written and/or oral form. Importantly, our students learn that it is not so much what one knows (substantive case law, for example) but how one comes to possess that knowledge that matters. For this reason, creative and critical thinking skills are crucial.
Our emphasis on what may be regarded as strategies of inquiry presumes that we do not pretend to teach "law" --that is the mission of a qualified law school. Rather, our goal is to provide a superior foundation for the study of law. Many of the faculty teach via the Socratic method, and all encourage aggressive student participation in class. We teach skills that facilitate life-long learning: research methods (quantitative and qualitative), logic, contextual analysis and the like. Additionally, we offer courses that demand students to understand the causes and consequences of judicial activity and the nexus of law and society. Whether students have a clear or remote interest in corporate-, criminal-, constitutional-, or international law, for example, we provide a number of stimulating classes designed to investigate such issues and provide the necessary exposure to the increasingly diverse field of law. And because we never know whether we are educating future practitioners or scholars, we insist on maintaining high academic standards. In order for a pre-law education to be rewarding, it must also be challenging.
A sound pre-law "major" is rooted in the liberal arts tradition. As such it should be interdisciplinary, emphasizing the communication of ideas; the social sciences; business and economics; philosophy and logic; psychology and sociology; and the art and science of law and government. While it is difficult to list all of the classes that may be used to develop a well-rounded pre-law student, it is possible to highlight some of the courses that are available in a variety of departments on an annual basis. Because virtually all departments are in the process of curriculum revision, the alphanumeric codes and titles may change; likewise, new classes are added annually. As such, this portion of the page should be considered perpetually "under construction." For more information on these classes and others that may be taught across campus, please consult the Southeast Bulletin, or contact one of the professors, below.
Freshman-Sophomore Level Classes:
The Pre-Law Club was created and officially recognized as a student organization in the Fall of 1993. The purpose of the Club is to provide a forum for students and faculty to exchange ideas and information about the pre-law curriculum, preparation for the Law School Admission Test and the application process, and scholarly interests. The Pre-Law Club also sponsors a Guest Lecture Series and routinely organizes visits to law schools, the Law School Forum in Chicago, and judicial proceedings. Annually, a recent law school graduate and Southeast Alum delivers the "Reality 101" lecture on the law school experience, the job market, and his or her blossoming career. Finally, based upon student demand, we have included a bit of instrumental rationality: Dr. Smentkowski teaching a no-credit (and therefore free) class on preparing for the LSAT.
Another option pre-law students are encouraged to exercise is participation on the Debate Team. Southeasts Debate Team has gained national and regional acclaim in recent years. Clearly, the Debate Teams emphasis on research, argument development, and oral delivery provide an excellent vehicle for gaining confidence and presenting arguments before sometimes skeptical audiences --skills all lawyers inevitably learn. Why not get a head start? For more information, contact: Dr. Larry Underburg, Director of Forensics, Department of Speech, Communication and Theater.
While there is no specific pre-law major, Dr. Brian Smentkowski of the Department of Political Science provides pre-law advising to those students, regardless of major, who are considering a career in law. Once students select a major, they will find that there is a member of every Department uniquely capable of providing sound pre-law advising. These professors are members of the Pre-Law Advisory Committee --a group of faculty members who can provide specialized and curriculum-specific information for their own majors. The purpose of the Committee is to coordinate the academic communitys efforts to enhance the preparation and advancement of all pre-law students, regardless of major.
If you need any advice about locating a pre-law advisor in any department on campus, simply email me your question, using your Southeast email address, with the subject line: pre-law advising,
Please feel free to contact any Department not listed above through the Universitys Home Page.
Annually, about 18 students take
the LSAT on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University. The students
represent a variety of academic departments, with the College of Liberal
Arts and the College of Business claiming the greatest numbers overall.
During the past five years, Southeasts students have exceeded the national
LSAT average score by approximately two points. Controlling for students
who take the LSAT but do not seek admission to a school of law (in reality,
some students test the waters but decide not to jump in), our placement
rate approaches 100%. It is indeed rare that one of our pre-law advisees
fails to secure admission to a school of law. The reasons for this record
are manifold: (1) The students with inferior records sometimes elect not
to seek admission; (2) The vast majority of pre-law students are ambitious,
engaged in social- and extra-curricular activities, and work diligently
in a challenging field of study; and (3) Advising is taken very seriously
at Southeast. While the faculty cannot --and will not-- take credit for
the hard work of the students, we do take pride in our commitment to excellence
in the classroom and in advising. By the time our students reach become
seniors, we tend to have a very informal relationship with them. This informality
prompts us to work very closely --and diligently-- with students on their
application materials, letter writing, and law school selection procedures.
Cornell/Legal Material by Topic
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Law School Admissions Council Homepage
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Denver Journal of International Law and Policy
DIANA International Human Rights Database
Lawyers Committee For Human Rights
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