“Keep an open mind about your future. English majors can cross over into many different careers. My professors were wonderful! The English department is definitely a fabulous asset to the Heidelberg community!"
Rhonda Best '02
By Chantel Robinson '09; Revised by Aaron Stewart '09
If you’ve been looking through any of the other sections on this website, you may have received one pretty big hint: knowing information on Law is extremely important. Whether you’re a journalist, freelance writer, a PR specialist, or the lowly employee sitting in his/her cubicle (you get the picture), understanding the law and your rights can help you become very successful; however, in order for people to find out about laws and their rights, there has to be someone to write it all down, right? For example, the American Judicial libraries are filled with many famous cases and rulings that made a mark in history, such as Brown vs. the Board of Education. Each ruling and judgment is filed, archived, and documented for future reference. This is important for the lawyer who is trying to prepare their case and is in need of some examples to support their arguments. Whether you’re the one writing the cases down or the one researching them, a liberal arts education can help you learn critical thinking, reasoning and writing skills that can definitely help you within the legal field, whether you become a judge, lawyer, legal secretary, or even the person who documents court cases in front of a computer on the spot.
A lawyer is to “represent clients in criminal and civil litigations and other legal proceedings, draw up legal documents, and manage or advise clients on legal transactions. They may specialize in a single area or practice broadly in many areas of law” (Farr and Shatkin 295). This statement involves a couple of essential skills for people interested in law. It goes without saying that you need to have a lot of legal experience—why do you think lawyers spend so much time in law school before they even get a chance to find a job? You can’t represent a client properly unless you know your way around a courtroom. It’s very important that you learn how to research effectively. Most of a lawyer’s time is spent looking up court cases that will help their arguments. Unless you can effectively find the evidence that you need in a timely manner, you may find yourself spending long nights at the office pulling your hair out. Those in law also have to possess good speaking skills. You won’t convince any jury to side with you if your opening and closing statements are filled with “ums” and “ahs.” Also, you won’t find many people who are confident in your abilities as a judge if you can not talk clearly (in fact, you may not even become a judge in the first place if that’s the case). There are also many areas lawyers can get involved in that have specific skills, such as trial lawyers (research details to prepare for trial), criminal lawyers (represent those accused of a crime), civil lawyers (help clients with bankruptcy, wills, contracts, &c.) and house lawyers (actually reside within a company to help them with their court disputes and legal questions) (Camenson 183).
Qualifications and Training
If you’re interested in studying law, you need to have a Bachelor’s degree and complete the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) in order to be considered by any law school approved by the American Bar Association, or ABA (Camenson 188). Advanced legal research is the primary course of study during three years of law school. As a result, you may find that skills learned during undergraduate studies will come in handy once you reach law school and are expected to be able to build a case efficiently. Other courses that may help you obtain a law degree include government regulations, language arts, sociology and/or psychology, consumer relations and business administration (Farr and Shatkin 296). After law school, all lawyers are required to earn a license to practice. Licensure requirements are different for every state, but all states require you to pass a written examination known as the Bar Examination (Camenson 187).
Law at Heidelberg
Heidelberg University offers great courses to help you on your way to law school. Due to all of the research and writing skills necessary in a legal setting, English is always a good major to focus on. It will give you the research skills needed to help you in any position you may want and it will also help you develop ideas to help structure your case. Two other fields that can be really beneficial for those interested in law are Political Science and Criminal Justice. Both electives are part of Heidelberg’s unique pre-law program and will help you immensely in your preparation for the LSAT’s. Also, Communication may be beneficial, as you will find yourself spending a lot of time trying to convince a judge and jury that your argument is more sound than the opposing council’s. Due to this, I strongly urge you to take Logic, as well, in order to help you understand the difference between a good and bad argument.
- Camenson, Blythe. Great Jobs for Liberal Arts Majors. 3rd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc, 2008.
- Farr, Michael and Laurence Shatkin, PhD. 250 Best Paying Jobs. Indianapolis: JIST Publishing, Inc, 2007.
- Editors of McGraw-Hill and United States. The Big Book of Jobs. 2007-2008 ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc, 2006.
Online journals and websites available through the electronic journal service:
Journal of Law and Economics and Journal of Business Law http://ejournals.ebsco.com/login.asp?bCookiesEnabled=TRUE
Law Website; News, Market, and Jobs http://www.law.com/jsp/law/index.jsp
Link to PDF Download for Paralegals and Legal Assistants http://www.lawcatalog.com/product_detail.cfm?productID=10733&setlist=0&r...
American Bar Association http://www.abanet.org/
Ohio Women’s Bar Association http://owba.org/trustees/
Ohio State Bar Association http://www.ohiobar.org/
Ohio Code of Conduct http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/default_highres.asp
Books available at Amazon.com:
Literary Law Guide for Authors: Copyright, Trademark, and Contracts in Plain Language (Literary Entrepreneur series) by Tonya Marie Evans and Dan Poynter (Paperback - May 1, 2005)
Students Guide To The Study Of Law (Guides To Major Disciplines) by Gerard V. Bradley and Cory L. Andrews (Paperback - May 1, 2006)