A career in law can be rewarding in many ways, but becoming an attorney is challenging. Typically, would-be lawyers must perform well academically while pursuing a rigorous baccalaureate program of study, score well on the Law School Admissions Test, gain entry into and finish a three-year program of legal study at a law school accredited by the American Bar Association, and then pass the bar exam of the state in which they want to practice. All of this requires a substantial investment of time, money, and energy.
UNG provides a wealth of resources for pre-law students. The Department of Political Science and International Affairs offers a B.S. degree in political science with a pre-law concentration. Students in this program take courses that often simulate those at law schools and that develop the abilities to read for a clear understanding of content; to think critically; to solve problems; and to communicate with precision, style, and clarity. Students in the program receive individualized attention from skilled pre-law advisors who are themselves graduates of law school and who know the law school admissions process. Pre-law students may intern with private law firms, county prosecutors and public defenders, or other law enforcement agencies. At presentations, forums, and workshops sponsored by UNG's Pre-Law Society (which is open to all students), attendees learn about careers in law from practicing attorneys and can receive help in preparing for the L.S.A.T. and in crafting law school admissions essays.
UNG's placement record of its pre-law students is exceptional. In recent years, graduates of our program have attended law school at Emory University, the University of Georgia, Georgia State University, Mercer University, Regent University, Samford University, The George Washington University, John Marshall School of Law, and the University of Memphis, to name just a few. Students at these and other law schools attribute their success there in large part to the solid preparation they received at UNG.
Jonathan Miner, J.D., M.A., Ph.D., Associate Professor
Hansford Hall 331 – Dahlonega
Dr. Jonathan Miner graduated from Drake University Law School in 1994, where he specialized in International and Environmental Law. After passing the Illinois Bar in November of 1994, he became a staff attorney at Klafter & Burke, a small private firm in downtown Chicago run by 14th Ward Alderman Edward M. Burke, and at which he had been an intern at during law school. The firm specialized in real estate tax appeals, and his regular duties involved gathering, preparing and appealing commercial, industrial and residential real estate taxes with the Cook County Assessor and Board of Appeals. A yearly workload of 500 cases, routine client meetings, and regular administrative court hearings with the City of Chicago enabled him to learn a great deal about law and the inner workings of Chicago politics (much of which is as colorful as you might have heard).
After four years, Dr. Miner took a position in Estate Services with the Northern Trust Company, a financial institution also located in downtown Chicago. As a staff attorney, he was part of a team that collected and valuated the assets of recently deceased trust customers. This team was also responsible for meeting with clients' families during the collection process and preparing and submitting federal death tax returns.
After five years practicing law, Dr. Miner decided to follow his passions in international law and politics by attending graduate school and pursuing a career in teaching. He received his Masters in Political Science from the University of Iowa in 2001 and his Ph.D. in International Studies from the University of South Carolina-Columbia in 2007. He began a tenure track position with us in August, 2007. He teaches International Law, Middle Eastern Politics, and various other courses in comparative and international politics in the Department of Political Science and International Affairs. His research interests include foreign policy decision-making, Turkish politics, and U.S. national security strategy.
Charles(Trey) Wilson, J.D., M.A., Ph.D., Associate Professor
Hansford Hall 336 - Dahlonega
Dr. Trey Wilson can offer much insight into law school thanks not to many years of practicing law but rather to his passion for teaching. He did not study law to become an attorney but to become a more knowledgeable academic in the humanities and social sciences. He actually attended four law schools en route to earning his law degree, something that may be a unique achievement among lawyers nationwide. He studied for a year each at Saint Louis University, the University of Wyoming, and the University of Toledo. He also studied abroad for a summer term at the College of William and Mary's program in Madrid, Spain. He received his law degree from the University of Toledo in 1996. These experiences gave him peerless first-hand insight into the characters of multiple law schools.
Dr. Wilson worked in a legal clinic and in an alternative dispute resolution program in Toledo before commencing his graduate education. He would go on to obtain an M.S. from Georgia Tech in the history of technology, a Master's in Public Administration degree from North Georgia College and State University, and an M.A. in history and a Ph.D. in social science education from the University of Georgia. He served for four years as an assistant professor of political science and history at Gainesville State College prior to joining our faculty in 2007. Dr. Wilson currently serves as an assistant professor of political science and criminal justice and teaches primarily Introduction to American Government and Criminal Procedures. His research interests are primarily in the areas of early American law and the history of education. Dr. Wilson is also the faculty advisor to UNG's pre-law society.
Generally, three years. Some schools have part-time programs that let students spread out studies over four or five years.
Your first year at most law schools will consist of required "meat and potatoes" courses like Civil Procedure, Contracts, Torts, Property, etc. You will also take a course in legal research and writing. The majority of your other two years of study will consist largely of elective courses. While there are no "majors" in law school per se, some students try to take all of the courses they can in particular areas of law (e.g., criminal law, tax law, etc.) to make themselves more marketable to particular employers.
It depends upon the school. Many of the "Ivy League" caliber schools (e.g., Harvard, Yale, Columbia, etc.) are extremely selective and admit only a couple hundred applicants from the thousands of applications they receive. Other law schools have much higher acceptance rates.
The one that is the best "fit" for you. Whether or not a school fits as such will be determined by many factors. Of course, one will be your ability to gain admission. Others might be a school's location or its cost. Each law school has its own distinct personality. You will want to plan on visiting your schools of choice to sit in on classes and to talk to current students to help you decide whether or not the school is a good fit for you.
Not necessarily. Things like law school rankings that purport to tell which schools are better than others are dubious things whose methodology and results are often questioned by many people. Stick with assessing the school's "fit" for you personally. Remember, if you go to the best law school in the country but are miserable there, you'll probably not perform very well. It seems doubtful that graduating at the bottom of the class of even a prestigious law school would be much of a feather in your cap.
Generally speaking, very expensive. Many private law schools charge upwards of $25,000 per year for tuition alone. Some schools will offer scholarships to exceptional applicants, but these are typically rare. Unless you attend a state school as a state resident, you should probably anticipate incurring several thousand dollars of student loan debt to finance your legal education.
Maybe-and maybe not. Some attorneys make a great deal of money and many live quite comfortably. However, many attorneys (especially those working in legal aid or prosecutorial jobs) make relatively modest incomes, though they do find their work very fulfilling. If you are planning on becoming a lawyer only for the money, you might want to rethink your plans. You could probably make as much (or more) as many lawyers do by earning an MBA or an advanced degree in computer science and skip the stress of law school in the process.
Obtaining a law degree is very challenging, but it is obviously doable. The same skills that promote success in undergraduate education (e.g., intelligence, discipline, commitment, etc.) promote success at law school as well.
The LSAT is administered four times per year in February, June, October, and December. Since you will want to take the LSAT and receive your scores prior to applying, you should plan on sitting for the June or October test in the year you wish to apply.
Not necessarily. With discipline, you can teach yourself anything such courses would. That said, many students find courses helpful in improving test scores.
You should shop around for the course that fits you best in light of such factors as cost, location, meeting schedule, etc. Most importantly, you should evaluate each course for what it claims to do to help you prepare for the test. In the end, promises of increasing scores drastically are often hollow. UNG does not recommend or endorse any particular LSAT prep course.
It depends upon the law school. Some are very selective, generally admitting students whose GPAs average 3.5 - 3.75 and whose LSAT scores are above 170. Other law schools routinely admit students with much lower numbers.
Most law schools consider other factors in evaluating applicants (e.g., work experience, graduate degrees, etc.). However, virtually all schools weight GPA and LSAT scores greatly. The higher those numbers are, the more likely you will be to make a competitive application.
Not really. If you are interested in these subjects, then by all means take courses in them. But taking them in the belief that they will give you a "leg up" in law school is liable to be a waste of time.
They can be. Occasionally, law schools will look at such activities in evaluating an applicant. Some activities (e.g., like extensive volunteer work or campus leadership positions) might make an otherwise borderline applicant "stand out" enough to gain admission. However, all the extracurricular activities in the world will probably not compensate for mediocre grades and test scores. (Indeed, participation in too many extracurricular activities might detract from your ability to achieve good grades and test scores…)
No. Indeed, if you do something with your time off that is remarkable (e.g., volunteer services or working at a law-related job), it might help your chances of being admitted.
Transferring from one law school to another is generally possible, but often very difficult. First, not all law schools accept transfer students. Those that do accept transfer students generally only accept students into their second year classes if some students in their first year classes drop out. Attrition rates at most law schools are quite low. Consequently, most schools routinely accept only 3-5 transfer students in any given year and those students will typically have performed quite well in their first year of law school. In short, transferring is very competitive and you should not take it for granted that you will be able to do so. Your best bet is to enroll initially at a law school that you would be OK graduating from since you will probably spend three years there.
Yes. The Judge Advocate General's Corps (also known as the "JAG Corps" or "JAG") is the legal arm of the U.S. military. You can find out more about JAG opportunities by searching on the Internet or by contacting an army or navy recruiter.