While a number of majors will prepare students for the study of law, Philosophy courses, as well as the Philosophy major, offer excellent preparation for students interested in a career in the legal profession. Students who wish to prepare for Law School should, therefore, strongly consider a major in Philosophy. Alternatively, they may pursue a major in another discipline with a minor in Philosophy. The University of Memphis also offers a Minor in Legal Thought and Liberal Arts. In any case, students pursuing a career in law are well advised to supplement whatever course of study they choose with a number of Philosophy courses (notably Critical Thinking and a number of logic courses such as Elementary Logic, Intermediate Logic, or Advanced Logic). This is for two main reasons:
First, Philosophy provides training in analytic and logical thinking, which are essential components of both the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) and the practice of law. The American Bar Association recommends that students looking to pursue a career in law acquire the following skills:
- Analytic and problem solving skills
- Critical reading skills
- Writing skills
- Oral communication and listening abilities
- General research skills
- Task organization and management skills
- Public service and promotion of justice
Students acquire many of these skills in Philosophy courses: they are trained to read difficult texts, assess arguments, conduct research, develop arguments of their own, and present them clearly in speech and writing. Moreover, Philosophy majors consistently outperform other majors on the LSAT.
They also have the highest scores on both the Verbal Reasoning and the Analytic Writing sections of the GRE. As a consequence, it comes as no surprise that acceptance rates of Philosophy majors applying to Law School are higher than those of applicants majoring in most other disciplines, including Economics, Political Science, History, Psychology, and Business Management.
Second, many Philosophy courses explore contemporary legal, political, and moral issues that are pertinent to legal professionals. For example, courses such as Philosophy of Law, Contemporary Moral Problems, Ethics, and Issues in Political Philosophy allow students to understand the philosophical background to issues that are of interest to lawyers, judges, and other legal professionals. Courses such as Environmental Ethics or Business Ethics will benefit those who wish to pursue careers in environmental law or corporate law. Students interested in legal concerns in the context of medicine and technology may wish to take courses in Biomedical Ethics, Philosophy of Science, or Science, Technology, and Human Values. Philosophical issues relevant to criminal law are covered in Philosophy of Law as well as Nature, Mind, and Knowledge, and Philosophy of Mind.
If you are interested in taking Philosophy courses or pursuing a major or minor in Philosophy, contact the Pre-Law Faculty Affiliate Advisor in the Philosophy Department, Dr. Verena Erlenbusch.