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Pre-Law Center to Offer Support, Opportunities for Students
An effort to centralize guidance and resources for students at The University of Texas at Arlington seeking entry into law school may come to fruition soon.
The Pre-Law and Legal Studies Center will help more than 200 students annually with their educational track, preparation for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and eventual application to law school. Dr. Elisabeth Cawthon, an Associate Professor of History and one of several UT Arlington faculty members involved with the project, said the Center would benefit those students pursuing a “pre-law” undergraduate education as well as those students who wish to include other aspects of law in their career paths.
“It’s not about sending everyone to law school,” Cawthon said. “It’s about helping students explore the different aspects and career opportunities within law. It is helping students to connect with the resources that will enable them to decide on their future.”
The idea for the Pre-Law Center was born out of student need and faculty concern. Cawthon said only a handful of faculty in only a few departments across campus are able to advise their students on the preparation for law school. The Center, officials say, would provide students with a “one-stop shop” as they consider alternatives for graduate programs in the field of law.
Dr. Rebecca Deen, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science, has mentored several students as to where they should apply, reminding them that the academic challenges they mastered at UT Arlington has prepared them for success in some of the nation’s more prestigious law schools. A pre-law center would arm students with all the information they need to make the right choice, she said.
Fundraising has begun on the $2 million endowment needed to open the center. Director of Development Myke Holt said organizers are encouraged by lead gifts from two Texas attorneys, both UT Arlington alumni. Their gifts, as well as funds from Maverick Match (an innovative university program that matches major gifts), total $400,000 and is a step toward realizing a long-standing dream.
“The goal of the center is to provide support in academic advising, assistance with law school applications, student LSAT prep courses and mock trial experience,” Holt said. “The money we raise will help our students by giving them needed guidance and support.”
The Center will also save students and faculty time. With the current state of disparate faculty advisors, students may miss out on preparation opportunities or get conflicting information. By having a dedicated program, Cawthon said, students will reap maximum benefits and focus.
“[As faculty] we can look at the classes students have taken and the grades they get and make assessments,” Cawthon said. “It’s not just career counseling, but advising students from the perspective of knowing what faculty members require, what skills courses require, and how that will translate into law school.”
Plans are also underway to create local relationships with the University through the Pre-Law Center. Cawthon said a number of North Texas law firms have expressed interest in utilizing UT Arlington students as interns. Also, officials at Texas Wesleyan University’s School of Law have offered to partner with faculty members to guide students appropriately.
“We want [the Center] to provide experiences for students in our undergrad programs that will make them competitive for the law school of their choice,” said Deen. “The idea is to compliment the existing services our faculty provide, as well as offer new opportunities through partnership with our donors and alumni.”
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