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Offices: Registrar - Catalog

Pre-Law Preparation

 Andrea Lange, Program Advisor

Joseph Prud’homme, Program Advisor


Admission requirements at law schools normally include the completion of a baccalaureate degree program at an accredited institution, a distinguished overall average, and a competitive score on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Standards concerning grade averages and LSAT scores vary from school to school. Law schools do not specify a particular undergraduate curriculum or major as preparation for a legal education. Legal study draws on many fields of knowledge in the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities. Potential law students should elect courses sufficiently diverse to acquire the basic ideas and methodologies of a number of disciplines, and to develop their skills of critical analytical thinking and effective written and oral expression. The pre-law advisors are available to help in this process. They counsel individual students with respect to course selection, how to prepare for the LSAT, the law school application process and provide periodic programs and workshops of interest to pre-law students.


The regular course distribution requirements at Washington College, which provide the student with a broad foundation in the liberal arts and sciences, are part of the general preparation for law school. The pre-law student is urged to consider taking some of the following courses, either as part of the distribution requirement or as electives. The pre-law advisors particularly recommend those courses marked with an asterisk: logic because it is helpful in preparing for the LSAT, political science courses because they prepare students for the study of cases in law school, business law because it introduces topics like contracts and torts, philosophy of morality and ethics courses because these are issues central to the profession, and sociology and justice, law and society courses since these courses explore domestic and global crime and justice issues.


Recommended Courses

*particularly recommended for pre-law students


BUS 112. Introduction to Financial Accounting

An introduction to the accounting principles and procedures used for collecting, recording, summarizing, and interpreting financial information. Students will learn to read and interpret financial statements. Special emphasis is placed upon the concepts of internal control over resources and transactions. Computerized spreadsheets are integrated into the course.


BUS 303. The Legal Environment of Business*

Study of the various legal environments in which business operates, including the legal/political systems of major trading areas abroad. American government regulation of business will be examined in detail, as well as the international legal environment, to appreciate varying legal requirements affecting foreign trade. Ethics and corporate responsibility will be compared to the differing standards in foreign countries.


ECN 111. Principles of Macroeconomics

An introduction to principles of economic analysis, economic institutions, and issues of economic policy. The course examines factors determining national income, price, and employment levels as well as the international position in the U.S. economy.


ECN 112. Principles of Microeconomics

An introduction to the principles of economic analysis, economic institutions, and issues of economic policy. Principal topics covered include commodity and factor price determination under various market structures, and resource allocation and income distribution through a pricing system.


ECN 416. Law and Economics

The course describes how legal rules, e.g. property rights or contract law, should be designed in order to encourage economic efficiency. The human response to the prices imposed by laws on different kinds of behavior is analyzed. Applications to land use legislation, consumer products liability, the criminal justice system, and medical malpractice are included. Prerequisite: Economics 112.


HIS 201, 202. History of the United States

A basic course designed for students wishing to supplement their knowledge of general American history. The first semester covers the period from the European backgrounds of colonization in the New World to 1865; second semester, the period from 1865 to the present.


MAT 109. Statistics

Introduction to the appropriate methods for analyzing data and designing experiments. After a study of various measures of central tendency and dispersion, the course develops the basic principles of testing hypotheses, estimating parameters, and reaching decisions.


PHL 100. Introduction to Philosophy

A study of selected systems of thought designed to acquaint the student who has no training in philosophy with basic philosophical concepts and with the techniques and advantages of a thoughtful and reflective approach to problems. Topics taken up vary with the individual instructor. Offered every semester.


PHL 108. Logic*

An introduction to informal logic (especially informal fallacies), formal sentential logic, and the application of logic to arguments found in ordinary language.


PHL 225.  Ethical Theory*

An examination of some of the major ethical theories in Western philosophy. Applications of these theories to concrete ethical problems will be considered. Special attention will be given to Consequentialist, Deontological, and Virtue theories. Readings will be drawn from classical and contemporary authors. Prerequisite: Philosophy 100.


PHL 300. Business Ethics

A seminar focusing on major ethical theories and principles as they apply to individuals, companies, corporations, and consumers in the business world. Typical issues treated are: corporate social responsibility, government versus self-regulation, employee and consumer safety, whistle-blowing, deceptive advertising, conflicts in accounting, the environment, insider trading, issues in international business, etc. Prerequisite: Philosophy 100.


PHL 335. Philosophy of Law*

The course covers three areas: (1) the nature of law, (2) the relation between law and morality, and (3) the nature and justification of punishment. Legal philosophers of various viewpoints will be covered. The class will meet with the judge of the Second Maryland Circuit in his courtroom and make an all-day field trip to one or more Maryland prisons. Prerequisite: Philosophy 100.


POL 102. American Government and Politics

A study of the foundations, institutions, processes, and policy issues of American government at the national level.


POL 323. Constitutional Law*

An analysis of the distribution of power among the three branches of the federal government, and between the federal and state levels of government, as specified in major decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court itself will be studied as a political institution, with emphasis on its role in a democratic political system. The course also includes a study of the constitutional rights of individuals, as specified by the U.S. Supreme Court, with primary emphasis on issues of freedom and equality.  Prerequisite: Political Science 102.


POL 407. Law and Society*

A study of the American system of criminal justice. The major emphases of the course are the operation of the institutions and processes of the system, the constitutional rights of those accused of crime, and the social goals and consequences of criminal punishment. Prerequisite: Political Science 102 or permission of the instructor.


SOC 240. Criminology*

Study of the nature, causes, and social significance of crime. Prerequisite: Sociology 101.


SOC 341. Variant Behavior*

An exploration of behavior that has been socially defined as “deviant.” The nature, sources, and consequences of this definition will be discussed. Prerequisite: Sociology 101 and one additional course in sociology.