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Marissa Grayson, Pre-Law Advisor; Associate Professor, Political Science
Samford provides a range of services to support students interested in attending law school. For first-year students who have not declared a major, the pre-law advisor serves as the student’s primary advisor, helping freshmen to discern the major that best meets their interests and prepares them for a legal education. Once students have selected a major, the pre-law advisor serves as a mentor, arranging professional development opportunities and guiding pre-law students through their curricular and extra-curricular choices.
A key component of the mentoring experience is a special pre-law section of FOUN 102 Vocation Exploration taught by the pre-law advisor every spring. This one-credit course is targeted for second-semester juniors who are planning to apply to law school in their senior year. In addition to covering important material regarding application procedures and preparing for the LSAT, the course helps students to write a personal statement, perfect a résumé, request letters of recommendation, and explore financial aid for law school.
Samford and Cumberland School of Law have created an accelerated law degree program which permits eligible Samford students to complete their undergraduate and law school degree in six years instead of the traditional seven. This accelerated 3-3 program is limited to students in particular undergraduate majors, and eligible students interested in the 3-3 Law Degree Program should work closely with their major advisor and the pre-law advisor to ensure they are taking the proper courses to prepare them for this accelerated program. Acceptance into this program will be determined by the law school based on the same criteria used to evaluate all law school applicants. After successful completion of the first year of classes at Cumberland, the student will be awarded a bachelor’s degree in his/her undergraduate major.
Recommended Course of Study
Samford follows the recommendation of the American Bar Association and encourages students to choose a rigorous undergraduate major supplemented by courses that develop the core skills and values needed to prepare for a sound legal education. To that end, the university does not recommend any particular major for its pre-law students; instead, we focus on skill development, practical experience, and vocational discernment.
Regardless of major, students should strive to develop the following ABA-recommend core skills and values:
- Analytic/Problem-Solving Skills
- Critical Reading
- Writing Skills
- Oral Communication/Listening Abilities
- General Research Skills
- Task Organization/Management Skills
- Public Service and Promotion of Justice
In addition to these fundamental skills and values, all pre-law students should take courses that develop the following subject competencies recommended by the ABA:
- A broad understanding of history, including the various factors (social, political, economic, and cultural) that have influenced the development of our society.
- A fundamental understanding of political thought and of the contemporary American political system.
- Some basic mathematical and financial skills, such as an understanding of basic pre-calculus mathematics and an ability to analyze financial data.
- A basic understanding of human behavior and social interaction.
- An understanding of diverse cultures within and beyond the United States, of international institutions and issues, of world events, and of the increasing interdependence of the nations and communities within our world.
As a member of the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA), the Samford Mock Trial Team competes in national and regional trial simulations with teams from other universities. Mock trial gives students the opportunity to develop critical thinking and public speaking skills, as well as knowledge of legal practices and procedures. Competitors develop valuable legal skills, such as constructing opening and closing arguments, employing rules of evidence, and preparing witnesses for direct and cross examinations. The Cumberland School of Law is home to one of the nation’s premiere Trial Advocacy programs, and the pre-law Mock Trial Team, which is coached by two mock trial veterans who are practicing attorneys, seeks to uphold this tradition of excellence
Samford Pre-Law Society
The Samford Pre-Law Society meets regularly to sponsor speakers, interviews, and information sessions on topics of interest to pre-law students. The society is an official campus organization governed by students with an advisory board of faculty and staff members who have expertise in helping students apply to law school. Any Samford student is eligible to join and to participate in its meetings.
Students seeking to learn trial advocacy skills may enroll in the following class:
PLAW 100 - Mock Trial (1)
Students preparing to apply to law school may enroll in the following class:
FOUN 102 Vocation Exploration
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