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How Majoring in English can Aid a Pre Law Student

I never thought about majoring in pre-law until Senior year in high school when I took a

business law class. I fell in love with the subject and realized that it could be a potential career

path. However, University of Delaware doesnt offer a pre-law major, it can only be a focus. For

this reason many students interested in pre-law major in English. This intrigued me because I

generally think of English majors as Shakespeare snobs, or people who want to be English

teachers. This clearly doesnt relate to law school, so why should I major in English when I

could major in something related to the field like criminal justice? This lead me to my initial

research question: how will the writing skills taught in English 110 and other basic English

classes relate to and help pre-law and law school students? After deeply researching this topic I

found that English can greatly help in the law field because the skills are applicable to almost

anything. Unlike calculus, its actually useful!

Pre-law students or students who want to attend law school should highly consider

majoring in English. The writing skills we learned have already proved to be helpful in my

current classes and will certainly be helpful in my future law endeavors. As seen in the English

syllabus expectations, students are taught how to write multiple types of papers in different

styles, how to analyze evidence and how to edit a draft effectively. The Cornell and Harvard law

school syllabi detail why these skills are helpful. Students are expected to be well versed and

able to write various types of documents such as research and response papers. Former law

student Megan Lovato reiterates these points in her blog and writes about why its beneficial to

major in English instead of a law oriented subject.

There are various writing skills taught in English 110 that can help with legal writing and

law school. These skills are laid out in our class syllabus and onehundredten.org, which is a
website detailing what the goals are for all English 110 classes. These sources clearly state what

is expected of an English110 students and how the skills learned will assist them later in their

career. The English 110 syllabus states,

because the types of writing that you produce both here in college and after you leave

UD will be incredibly diverse, this course cannot teach you how to write in such a myriad

of rhetorical situations. Instead, in this class you will be introduced to the field of writing

studies. In this course you will be asked to think and write about writing itselfhow

others write, how you have written in the past, and how your writing might improve

during this course and beyond. (ENGL syllabus)

Because the course teaches skills instead of how writing should be done, what is learned can be

applied to many majors, especially pre-law. By thinking about writing itself instead of particular

grammar points, English 110 is inadvertently setting up pre-law students for success. Pre-law

students are expected to be able to write various types of documents various types of ways, so by

working on a plethora of skills in English 110 the potential pre-law students are practicing what

they will be assigned in the upcoming years both in undergrad and law school. Majoring in

English would be extremely helpful for pre-law students because the skills learned in English

110 would be built up and expanded throughout the years.

Because were thinking about writing in English 110, my analytical writing has been

improved. Instead of simply writing an essay based on my opinions Ive had to write essays

based on what scholars think then analyze their opinions. Another reason why my analytical

writing has improved is because of the sheer amount of it Ive had to do in my first two months

at college. While I wrote analytical essays in High School none of them were as well versed as

the ones I write now. English professors are required to assign a minimum of 7500 words per
semester (one hundred). This consists of a 2000-word research paper, another essay, brief

responses and mini essays (one hundred). The various writing goals and objectives throughout

the semester are to write with a strong understanding and focus on purpose, write in ways that

respond to the needs of difference of audiences and adapt voice, tone, and level of formality

appropriate to situation and purpose (one hundred). Because these skills are so applicable

theyre extremely useful for pre-law students. Writing with a purpose and focus will help

students when they need to write a paper about a specific Supreme Court ruling. They wont

diverge from the facts from the facts nor will they use an inappropriate tone.

Another skill learned in English 110 is the drafting and re-drafting process. Usually I

only wrote one draft then turned in the final version of my paper. Writing two or three drafts

before turning in a paper has helped me pinpoint the places I need to edit without cutting down

on important information. Likewise, drafting makes my papers more cohesive and organized.

While this may not seem like a big deal it has already come in handy with my other classes. I

wrote my Environmental Sustainability paper on Tuesday, read it again on Thursday and re-

wrote almost half of it. While the Environmental Sustainability paper may not pertain to the law

field directly it still uses similar skills. I had to research the topic, cite my sources and include

my own opinions on the subject. This proves how helpful the skills learned in English 110 are.

The goals set for English 110 both from the class syllabus and One Hundred Ten make sure that

the information we learn will be pertinent in other majors. Ive honed my writing skills

immensely in the first two months of this class because of how much weve had to write. While

the workload isnt quite the same as a law student, the lengthy assignments have trained me to

get my work done in a timely manner while analyzing the information deeper than I ever had to

in high school.
Law students are expected of a lot. They have an enormous amount of reading they have

to complete each night, not to mention various writing assignments throughout the year.

According to a Cornell Law School Syllabus for Law 789: The American Jury, students have to

write a research paper which accounts for fifty percent of their grade. While this paper will likely

be more in depth than the one English 110 students are expected to write, the skills needed to

write the piece will likely be very similar if not the same. The Professor stated in the introduction

to the paper that, Your paper should clearly articulate your thesis and provide ample support for

that thesis with primary and secondary source materials (Cornell). This is what one hundred ten

laid out in their goals for English 110. The skills students need to know for finding and citing

different types of information is very important in the English 110 curriculum. These papers are

much like the research papers we right in English 110. Research papers are important because

they help the law students know how to research previous cases, general rues of law while still

being ethical. In their writing theyre required to give credit where credit is due instead of cutting

corners.

Harvard law school does it a little differently than Cornell in that one of their courses

requires three reader response papers. These papers are worth thirty percent of a students total

grade (Harvard). The professor expects the papers to be and analytical instead of a summary, so

he knows the students understand the readings, I ask that students engage with readings

critically, and present their understanding of the limitations of a particular selection, or to

compare/contrast a set of readings to uncover an overarching principle (Harvard).

In the previous Cornell syllabus students only had to write one research paper, while the Harvard

course required students to write three response papers. These response papers are imperative for

law students, so they can create their own thoughts and opinions on different matters of law. It
gives them a chance to practice articulating their opinions, much like the first paper we did in

English 110 regarding reading habits. Clearly a lot is expected of every law student. Each student

has to to be prepared for the heavy workload ahead of them. Even the Duke law school website

admitted that writing like a lawyer is one of the hardest skills to master and the hardest part of

the law curriculum (Duke). For this reason, the skills learned in English 110 are extremely

prevalent because pre-law students will be using them the rest of their life.

Because the English curriculum focuses on writing in a variety of genres and analyzing

different types of sources, pre-law students have valuable writing skills right at their fingertips

without taking a single law oriented class. Former law student Megan Lovato wrote in the Ms.

JD blog,

You should instead focus on your major, and can glean skills from which you can take

with you to law school (such as reading and writing well, as well as reading

comprehension) many universities offer pre-law coursesit is still good to attain a

thorough knowledge of your chosen major. (Ms. JD)

Not only do the skills learned apply to basic writing comprehension, but they also apply directly

to pre-law and law school. In law school students are expected to write response papers, research

papers, briefs memos and various other works that will help them with their careers later on

(Harvard). The skills needed to write this paper are taught in English 110 and other introductory

English courses. Rather than loading up on pre-law courses its much better for students to attain

valuable skills from classes other than law. Doing this will allow the pre-law student to get

outside knowledge applicable to pre-law rather than only learn what it requires. Its better to

have many valuable skills from writing courses such as English 110 rather than only have

courses that pertain to pre-law. This is practical because if you switch majors you will still have
practical skills, but this is also a good strategy because you will gain so much from taking

English 110. Already I have improved upon my different writing styles, peer review methods and

my source analysis. While this may seem pretty basic theyre skills I can utilize throughout my

pre-law journey.

Pre-law is not commonly associated with English, but after doing my research and

writing this paper I realize that it should be. People may breeze by English 110 and not think

twice about the assignments or objectives, but I truly value that theres a website dedicated to

what freshmen students should learn in their introductory English classes. Writing this paper has

made me realize that if I do want to focus my attention in pre-law then I should also think about

majoring in English. While its something I never imagined for myself it would be extremely

helpful if I want to switch areas of study. English is a practical major for a plethora of jobs, not

just being a lawyer. Honing writing skills and improving upon them is an extremely important

skill and I wish more students would value what theyre learning. Learning new writing skills

and improving upon the ones I already have has been extremely helpful and I realize theyll take

me far in life. At first I was upset when I realized I had to take a required English class. Now Im

grateful that its helped me almost decide my major. While waking up at 9:30 AM is not exactly

my favorite thing to do, its certainly worth it for the skills Im learning.

!
Work Cited

King, Carolyn. Course Syllabus. University of Delaware Newark, Delaware. Fall 2015. Notes.

Legal Writing at Duke Law School. Legal Writing at Duke Law School. Duke University,

n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2015 < https://law.duke.edu/curriculum/legalwrit/> .

Lovato, Megan. Myths and Realities about Pre-Law Education. Web blog post. Ms-jd.org

.Ms. JD Corporation, 02 Feb. 2010. Web. 12 Oct. 2015. <http://msjd.org/blog/article/

Myths-and-realities-about-pre-law-education>.

Mamlyuk, Boris. International Business Transactions. Harvard Law School Syllabus. Boston,

Massachusetts. March 2013. Lecture.

Sevier, Justin. Law 798: The American Jury. Cornell Law School Syllabus. Ithaca, New York.

September 2011. Law Seminar.

"Standards and Requirements." One Hundred Ten. Word Press, 18 Aug. 2014. Web. 20 Oct.

2015. <http://onehundredten.org/english-110-at-ud/standards-and-requirements/>.