Next year, the TU College of Law will launch a minor in law. The idea began two years ago during a presidential retreat for senior administrators.
According to outgoing Dean Janet Levit of the College of Law, it began as a combination of both practical and philosophical concerns.
On a practical level, Levit said there was overcrowding in the block courses. Meanwhile, law school attendance has been steadily decreasing.
According to Dean Levit, national law school attendance has gone down about 40 percent in the last five years, a trend with which TU’s College of Law’s attendance has been “in tandem.”
On a philosophical level, administrators felt that knowledge of the law is a necessary part of a liberal arts education.
The law minor will consist of at least two lower-level and two upper-level courses. Many of the lower-level courses will be available as block courses. Some upper-level courses will be cross-listed with courses for J.D. students.
Next semester, five courses total will be offered: Law, Ethics and Psychology of Responsibility; Law and Knowledge; Copyright Law and the Digital Age; Federal Indian Law; and Medical Consumerism.
Additional courses that cover international law, piracy, sex crimes, bioethics and sports law, to name a few, are planned for the future.
A class on piracy as well as the Law, Ethics and Psychology of Responsibility class were offered this year, and both have fairly large attendance. At some point, it is possible a law major could be developed.
The law minor is not a pre-law program. Levit said it is “not designed to be a sort of mini law school.” TU College of Law professors Robert Spoo and Sam Halabi hosted an information session for interested students on March 31.
Professor Spoo stressed that the law minor is designed to be a liberal arts program, not a pre-law professional track.
Spoo also compared the law minor to political science, history and English. Professor Halabi stated that there is no ambition to displace the current pre-law apparatus.
Still, the advertisement for the program states that, “While the Law minor is not designed as a ‘pre-law’ program, students with an interest in eventually attending law school will find much that is interesting and useful in the Law minor.”
Professor Jeffrey Hockett, who is TU’s pre-law advisor and was not consulted in developing the law minor, is worried that that statement doesn’t go far enough in making clear that pre-law does not imply that one type of study is superior to another.
Hockett said “one would be hard pressed to find a major/minor” which is not interesting and useful for students considering law school.
Hockett also says students who are interested in going to law school should take courses in a discipline that interests them and that emphasizes reading, writing and independent research. He cites the American Bar Association, which “does not recommend any undergraduate majors or group of courses to prepare for a legal education.”