Department of Legal Studies

The Department of Legal Studies offers students a humanities-based approach to law and the legal system within the context of a liberal arts education. It provides an avenue for majors to understand the multifaceted dimensions of legal discourse, including the historical context in which the legal system was fashioned, the ethical implications of the construction and implementation of legal rules, and the policy impact that contemporary legal decisions continue to have on various aspects of governance in both the public and private spheres. Our students are exposed to essential aspects of legal practice, procedure and methodology, and are taught to bridge their practical understanding of the legal profession by placing those skills in a broader context and recognizing laws as being reflective of broader elements of social change.

The focus of the department is on how law reflects the values of society and constantly adapts to changes in societal behavior and opinion. We look at how laws affect the relationships between individuals and groups in society, and of groups to each other. We discuss issues such as justice, equity and the balance between the rights of individuals and the public interest, from a legal, historical and societal viewpoint. The Law in Society major develops specific legal research, writing and critical thinking skills, all within a framework of the ethical and statutory constraints confronting the legal professions. After graduation, many of our students continue their education by attending law or graduate school. Others work in law-related settings, such as working as a paralegal in a law office or business. Other graduates have become social workers, teachers and business owners.

The department also offers two minors. The Minor in Law in Society is for students who want to explore law, while retaining flexibility in choosing courses. The Minor/Certificate in Legal Studies, approved by the American Bar Association, provides students with the opportunity to study legal practice and prepares them to work as paralegals.