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Is there a Prelaw Program at Holy Cross?

Yes. Holy Cross has had a Prelaw program advising system for many years. More than 1,000 Holy Cross graduates will matriculate to ABA-accredited law schools in each decade. As a result, a large percentage of our alumni are lawyers.

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Is there a Prelaw curriculum at Holy Cross?

There is no pre-defined curriculum or list of courses recommended by the law schools, the Prelaw Advisors Council, or by the Association of American Law Schools. One of the best features of pre-legal education is that it contains no requirements or restrictions, unlike medical schools, which require students to complete a core group of courses. Many of our students choose to major in English, History, Economics or Political Science, but we have had students from all of our 17 majors gain admission to law school. There is no such thing as a “Prelaw curriculum.”

At Holy Cross, students register with the Prelaw office and by doing so, are informed of college sponsored field trips, law fairs, attorney speakers and other events that are part of the program. We want our students to know what lawyers really do before they make a three year investment in a legal education.

Students are also made aware of various opportunities to engage in some form of legal work or legal activity, such as editing law papers, working with actual law school students and learning to use Lexis/Nexis as a staff member of the Holy Cross Journal of Law & Public Policy. Some students will try their hand at litigation by joining the Holy Cross Intercollegiate Mock Trial Team. Our 1999 team tied for first in the New England region and won a bid to the National Competition in Iowa.

Not only do these activities provide students the opportunity to see if they have an aptitude for doing law related work, but it gives them a chance to see if they find it interesting--do they like engaging in this type of activity?

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Is there a special major recommended for a Holy Cross student planning to attend law school?

No. Incoming students considering a legal career would be wise to seek a broad liberal arts education from the wide array of courses we offer at Holy Cross. Students should select an undergraduate area of specialization that is of interest to them, since it is well settled that students tend to do better academically in courses they find interesting. No student should mortgage their undergraduate education for the sake of law school.

The law school admissions process is competitive, in particular at the upper-tiered schools. What ultimately counts to law school admission committees is how well a student has performed in their chosen field of study. Choose a major that you find interesting, exciting and challenging. I would add to this, choose a major where you have the ability to do your best work.

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Are there any courses recommended for a student planning on seeking admission to law school?

The "best courses” to take at Holy Cross (or any other institution) are those that will enable a student to complete his or her total undergraduate educational needs as well as provide a solid foundation for law school. Preparing to be an attorney is preparing to be a capable, intelligent, interesting and thoughtful individual. Students should recognize that the "best" or "most appropriate" courses will vary from one institution to another and will often be dependent on the particular skill and teaching ability of the instructor teaching the course.

In general, students should seek:

Courses that improve the thought and reasoning process as well as the drawing of conclusions from what is read or discussed. It is natural and easy to point to quantitative and reasoning courses as likely to develop a student's ability to reason. Any course where the professor offering it has a reputation for focusing on problem-solving and encouraging thought will be valuable for the Prelaw student.
Courses that improve an individual's ability to communicate clearly and precisely both in oral and written form. Lawyers are keenly aware of the fact that communication is not only for the purpose of explanation, but is also for the purpose of persuading. To be a lawyer is to be an advocate.

Students will often seek courses in English and History, but these skills can be sharpened in virtually any course that emphasizes technical writing and/or public speaking. It is also helpful for students to challenge themselves in courses that require the development of independent research skills (using the library or other research resources such as CD-ROM libraries, available database technology, even the Internet), in contrast with courses that are aimed at the accumulation of a large number of facts. Many seminar courses at Holy Cross provide students with the opportunity to research an issue, write one or more significant papers, and make an oral presentation to a class of peers. If the professor is demanding and provides the student with critical feedback during the process, the seminar experience will be worthwhile and will accomplish more than merely improving one's communication skills.

Courses or other experiences that require public speaking and presenting of ideas before others. Students have found debating, leading college organizations, dramatics and involvement in theater and even serving as a lector in the Chapel as worthwhile.
The College is a member of the American Mock Trial Association. Prelaw students who join the Mock Trial team learn to make coherent and polished presentations in a competitive environment with a frequently equally prepared opposing counsel. As Mike Johnson (an AMTA officer) has said, Mock Trial is about more than the law. It is about thinking and organizing and speaking and teamwork and pride and discipline and confidence. In short, Mock Trial is the complete educational package.”

Courses that develop an understanding of the human experience and the evolution of our institutions. Lawyers certainly deal with the interpretation of factual issues as they relate to our statutory and common law. However, these concepts are not dealt with in isolation, but instead in the context of people and their institutions.

Since the majority of issues dealing with people and their institutions are intertwined with financial or economic issues, students will find the ability to understand economics (micro & macro) and basic accounting helpful and, in some ways, are "tools of the trade." A few law schools, such as Georgetown, suggest (but do not require) that students take courses in both accounting and economics.

Understanding human life in context with our institutions leads to recommending courses in the social sciences and humanities, including sociology, psychology, literature, religion, political science, classics and history, to name a few.

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What resources are available to Holy Cross students seeking to study law?

We offer many services to both our undergraduates and alumni seeking to study law.

Individual counseling of our students is the cornerstone of our advising system. It is available on a regular basis throughout the school year. Professor Scott Sandstrom, is the Prelaw advisor for the College. He has taught at the college level for nearly 20 years. In addition to being a CPA, he has a law degree and has “had the law school experience.”

Preparing an application strategy, developing a personal essay, choosing to study law (or not), financing one's graduate education and preparing for the law school admissions test (LSAT) are topics frequently discussed. Group presentations are given each year to students at different levels about law study and the admission process. We also maintain a fully automated database of registered Prelaw students, assuring that they know when an important event or presentation will occur.

  • The Prelaw Advisor organizes a wide range of speakers, usually alumni, who return to Holy Cross to speak to our students about their careers and law school experience. We also have a law professor visit the College to conduct a law class at Holy Cross, and answer questions generated by the students who attend.
  • Students are invited (and we provide a bus) to attend the annual Law Forum in Boston, where more than 100 law school admission representatives are present to meet prospective law students and distribute their promotional and other admission materials.
  • The Counseling Center and Career Planning Office arranges interviews for our students with about 20 law schools that visit Holy Cross annually. Both the Center and the Prelaw advisor maintain files and other resources (literature, catalogs, VCR tapes, etc.) and information of general interest to Prelaw students. A credential file is available that allows for the gathering of letters of recommendation for either immediate or later (post-graduation) use in applying to law school.
  • We offer materials to assist students with the LSAT. We also have several interactive computer programs for the LSAT available in our language lab (open every day). We have a contract with one of the leading LSAT test preparation services where they provide our students an on-campus course with a material price discount and financial aid to students receiving aid from the college. As a result, we believe more of our students are prepared for taking this difficult exam.
  • The St. Thomas More Pre-Legal Society is an organization of students considering law as a career. The society suggests and presents several events a year, often including film and discussion sessions.

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Can I delay admission to law school?

Yes. As higher-education costs continue to increase, more and more students apply to law school within one to three years of graduating from their undergraduate college. Students defer for many reasons (they want to work for a while, they are not sure law school is right for them yet, financing a graduate degree is a problem, they have a commitment to ROTC, volunteer work, etc.).

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How many Holy Cross students apply to law school?

Students can apply to law school in complete privacy, so gathering precise data is difficult. From information provided by the law school in LSAC “Action Reports”, we know that at least 100 of our students will matriculate to an ABA-accredited law school in a typical year (998 in the 1988-1998 application period). About half of these students will attend immediately after graduating from Holy Cross, the balance being made up of alumni. A typical class at Holy Cross is about 680 students, so about 17 percent of our entire student body will attend law school!

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Which schools have offered admission to Holy Cross graduates?

Most of our students attend law school in the Northeast. The Boston, New York City and Washington, DC, area law schools are very common choices.

In a typical year, we will have 4-12 Holy Cross students matriculate to each of the following law schools:

  • Boston College
  • Boston University
  • Catholic University
  • University of Connecticut
  • Fordham University
  • Georgetown Law Center
  • University of Notre Dame
  • Suffolk Law School

The following U.S. law schools, all accredited, are among those that have admitted Holy Cross graduates in the past decade:

Albany Law School
American University
Boston College
Brooklyn Law School
California Western Law School
Case Western Reserve University
Catholic University of America
College of William and Mary
Columbia University
Cornell University
Creighton University
DePaul University
Delaware Law School of Widener University
Dickinson School of Law (now Penn State)
Drake University
Duke University
Emory University
Fordham University
Franklin Pierce Law Center
George Mason Law School
George Washington University
Georgetown University
Georgia State University
Golden Gate University
Gonzaga University
Harvard University Law School
Hofstra University
John Marshall School of Law - Chicago
Lewis and Clark University
Loyola University - Chicago
Loyola University - Los Angeles
Loyola University - New Orleans
New England School of Law
New York Law School
New York University
Northeastern University
Northern Illinois University
Northwestern University
Nova University
Ohio State University
Pace University
Pepperdine School of Law
Roger Williams Law School
Rutgers - Camden
Rutgers - Newark
St. Louis University
Seton Hall University
Stanford University
SUNY - Buffalo
Suffolk University
Syracuse University
Thomas M. Cooley Law School
Tulane University
University of California - Berkeley
University of California - Los Angeles
University of Akron
University of Bridgeport
University of Chicago
University of Cincinnati
University of Colorado
University of Connecticut
University of Dayton
University of Denver
University of Florida
University of Georgia
University of Illinois
University of Iowa
University of Louisville
University of Maine
University of Maryland
University of Miami
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota
University of North Carolina
University of North Dakota
University of Notre Dame
University of Oregon
University of Pennsylvania
University of Pittsburgh
University of Richmond
University of San Diego
University of San Francisco
University of Santa Clara
University of Southern California
University of Utah
University of Virginia
University of Washington
University of Wisconsin
Vermont Law School
Villanova University
Wake Forest University
Washington and Lee University
Western New England College
Yale University

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For more information on the Prelaw Program at Holy Cross, contact:

Scott Sandstrom, J.D., C.P.A.
Pre-Law Advisor
129C Stein Hall
Worcester, MA 01610-2395
Telephone: (508) 793-2677
Fax: (508) 793-3801