While the study and practice of law have ancient roots, they also play a dynamic role in today’s world.
Few fields so effectively combine theory and practice, opening diverse avenues for applying the tools of intellect to the problems of society. Pre-law studies at Houghton College combine the liberal arts advantage with the lens of Christian understanding.
Pre-law studies at Houghton College build a strong foundation of crucial skills, knowledge, and experience designed to enable students interested in law, governance, justice, and public service to pursue their callings to the law and related fields.
A pre-law education at Houghton College gives students the tools and experience they need to continue onto, and succeed in, prestigious law schools around the nation.
Building on the core general education curriculum, many Houghton College courses fulfill the American Bar Association's advice to pursue a course of study that provides both a broad range of knowledge as well as skills in critical thinking, communication, and research. Houghton College offers many majors traditionally associated with preparation for law school, such as history, political science, philosophy, English, and business administration, but students are admitted to law school from almost every academic discipline.
The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) offers advice about preparing for law school, following recommendations of the Pre-Law Committee of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar.
Students entering pre-law studies at Houghton, whatever their major, are particularly encouraged to work with their pre-law advisor to design a course of study including courses designed to hone critical thinking skills, develop a historical understanding of legal systems and concepts, and explore the relationship of law to other fields, such as business, international development, or environmental policy.
Houghton courses of particular interest to pre-law students include:
Building Core Skills:
- Writing in the Liberal Arts (or another appropriate writing course)
- Logic and Critical Thinking
- Organizational Communication
- Presentational Speaking or Advanced Presentational Speaking
Understanding Law and Governance:
- In Search of Justice
- The American Political System
- Introduction to Political Thought
- American Constitutional Law I and II
- Philosophy of Law
- Business Law I and II
- Governance and Development
- Governing Urban Communities
- International Law and Organization
- Religion and the Constitution
Developing a Context: Historical, Political, Ethical, Economic and Social Dimensions:
- American History sequence (includes Colonial America, 1600-1788; Early National Period, 1788-1850; Civil War and Industrial America, 1850-1920; and Recent American History, 1920 to Present)
- Microeconomics/ Macroeconomics
- Executive Power and the Presidency
- Medical Ethics (especially for those interested in public health)
- Ethical Theory
- Social Problems (Sociology)
- Ancient Philosophy
- Early Modern Philosophy
The Pre-Law Program sponsors a range of co-curricular activities for students:
- One or more of the many supportive Houghton alumni in the legal profession visit our campus each year to meet with pre-law students and discuss their own work, the law school experience, and opportunities for those with legal training to make a difference in the world.
- We sponsor field excursions to courtrooms and law offices in Buffalo and Western New York.
- We make road trips to regional law school fairs, where students can meet representatives from dozens of law schools across North America.
- We sponsor the annual Constitution Day celebration each fall on September 17.
- We encourage campus visits from law school representatives.
- The Constitution Book Club meets to discuss works of broad legal and political interest.
Law School Admission Test (LSAT)
The LSAT is a standardized test used by law schools to compare the academic performance/readiness of applicants across the country to one another. The LSAT tests your abilities to read and comprehend complex texts with accuracy and insight; organize and manage information and draw reasonable inferences from it; think critically; and analyze and evaluate the reasoning and arguments of others. This exam is difficult and should be taken seriously with significant preparation including study and practice exams.
The LSAT is a half-day, standardized test administered four times each year at designated testing centers, typically on a Saturday, except in June, when it is generally administered on a Monday. Students may take the LSAT no more than three times in any two-year period. Many law schools require that the LSAT be taken by December for admission the following fall. However, taking the test earlier—in June or September—is often advised.