Preparing for a Career in Law
- Law places high value on analytical acumen and excellence in writing and speaking.
- ANY major at Hampden-Sydney can provide students appropriate preparation for law school.
- Prospective law school candidates must have consistently high GPAs and test well on the LSAT.
- Nearly one-eighth of our alumni have earned law degrees or work in the legal profession.
Just as no particular major is ideally suited for the legal professions, no particular course is going to be the key that gets you into-or makes you successful in-law school. We encourage students to follow a broad course of study to develop the habits of thoroughness, intellectual curiosity, logical thinking, analysis of social institutions, and clarity of expression that are the hallmarks of liberal arts education. Those skills are employed throughout the Hampden-Sydney curriculum, beginning with our required rhetoric program.
The following courses are not prescribed for pre-law students, but they do address issues and thought processes that may be helpful starting points for students considering the legal profession.
For more information, contact Dr. Celia Carroll.
Programs & Co-Curricular Activities
- Pre-Law Advisor - Students interested in the legal profession should contact the Pre-Law advisor, Professor Celia Carroll, during their first semester on campus.
- The Pre-Law Society - Organizes visits to law schools and courts, hosts info sessions with representatives from regional law schools, and sponsors LSAT prep sessions.
- The Union Philanthropic Literary Society (UPLS) - The College's oldest club hosts weekly debates on controversial topics, allowing students to develop public speaking and debating skills.
- The Ethics Bowl Team - Competes in the annual Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges Ethics Bowl competition. The event emphasizes critical thinking and oral rhetoric under pressure.
- Moot Court - Co-hosted by the Pre-Law Society and the Government Department, Moot Court provides students opportunities to refine their argumentation skills.
- Model Organization of American States Team - Competes each year in DC at the Model OAS exercise in international diplomacy, policy development, advocacy, and parliamentary debate.
- Phi Alpha Delta - The world's largest law fraternity has a chapter on campus.
- Writing Center and the Ferguson Center for Public Speaking - Offers students advice and practice with public speaking, writing, and editing throughout their college careers.
- The Student Court & Other Campus Organizations - Campus organizations, including the Student Court, provide challenging opportunities to sharpen practical decision-making skills.
Preparation For Employment
- Career Education and Vocational Reflection Office - Offers opportunities to practice networking, resume and cover letter writing, interview preparation, and general work place etiquette.
- Career Education Library - Contains publications that provide thorough introductions to different careers within the legal profession.
- Internships - As in many other competitive professions, networking to find quality internships after your junior and senior years is very important for aspiring lawyers. Remember to consider summer opportunities beyond the traditional summer at a law firm as you seek this positions. The goal should be to find a position that allows you to connect to and pursue your interests.
- Career Exploration Panels - The Pre-Law society hosts career exploration panel discussions with Hampden-Sydney alumni who have completed the JD or LLM degrees.
- The Juris Doctorate (JD) - Students frequently will enroll in law school to pursue a JD degree the fall after they receive their undergraduate diploma, but this is not the only way to enter the field.
- The Master of Law (LLM) - Students who wish to establish specialties in particular legal fields may enroll in a Master of Law program following completion of the JD degree. SMU, for example, offers a program in tax law. An LLM can also be a valuable degree for persons interested in teaching.
- Dual-Degree Programs - Many attorneys who chose to specialize in a particular field during law school end up pursuing a dual degree. The most common are JD/MBA and JD/MPA programs.
- LSAT - Students must set aside time to prepare for the rigorous Law School Admissions Test.
- Hampden-Sydney professors hold free LSAT review sessions each fall.
- JAG - Students interested in the study of law and military service can combine these two interests by pursuing admission to the Judge Advocate General's program with one of the military services.
- Public Service - Law Schools seek a diverse class and appreciate applicants with non-traditional post-collegiate experiences such as AmeriCorps, Teach for America, the U. S. military, or the Peace Corps to help expand the breadth of the Socratic dialogue of the law school classroom.