Pre-law Interest

Faculty Advisors: Peter C. Meilaender, Ron J. Oakerson

From the Mosaic law of the Pentateuch and the pugnacious speeches of the courts of Athens, the practice and study of law have roots deep in western history. Today, law continues to play a critical role in helping the dynamic world of the 21st-century function effectively. Politics, economics, technology - in an increasingly globalized world, every aspect of human culture is enmeshed in a web of national and international legal institutions. Indeed, few fields so deeply combine theory and practice as does the law, opening diverse avenues for applying the tools of the intellect to the problems of society.

Houghton's emphasis on the liberal arts provides a broad range of study as well as specific skills in critical thinking, reading comprehension, research, and oral and written communication. Organizations such as the American Bar Association ( and the Law School Admissions Council ( recommend precisely this sort of preparation for students planning to attend law school.

The study of Pre-Law is built around a personal, individualized relationship with one of the college's pre-law advisors.  Students considering law school come from all majors and minors - no particular major is required. The pre-law advisors work with each student to develop a study that complements his or her chosen major by emphasizing the development of analytical thinking, habits of thoroughness, intellectual curiosity, scholarship, and the ability to organize data and communicate results. We recommend a balanced selection of courses, drawn from areas such as logic and critical thinking; communication, public speaking, debate, and writing; American history and politics; philosophy and ethics; mathematics and accounting; and economics, sociology, or other social sciences. These recommendations directly reflect law school admissions expectations.

The pre-law advisors also encourage students to consider additional forms of relevant preparation, such as internships in local law offices or opportunities for research and field experience. And they work closely with the Office of Career Services on matters such as LSAT preparation and the law school application process. Those interested in Pre-Law also sponsor various events, including the college's annual Constitution Day celebration and an associated reading group; excursions to law offices, courtrooms, or regional points of interest; and visits with members of Houghton's extensive network of alumni attorneys. Students are also encouraged to join the Runnymede Society, Houghton’s student Pre-Law society. Founded in 2010, the Runnymede Society sponsors a range of events devoted to helping students prepare for law school and promoting campus discussion about issues of law and public affairs.

In addition to attending law school, pre-law students discover a range of callings, including graduate work in political science, philosophy, or business, as well as careers in law-related fields such as criminal justice, sociology, development, and journalism. The preparation required for success in law school translates well to many of the professions.

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