NSO 2016: Welcome to UMass!

Welcome incoming first-years and transfer students!

If you’re already thinking about an eventual legal career, this post is for you. If you missed or can’t make one of the NSO Pre-Law info sessions (Mondays and Thursdays at 2:30 pm in the Suffolk Room), or you lost the printed handouts amidst all the other paper you gathered during New Student Orientation (NSO), fear not—it’s all right here. 

First off:

There is nothing you MUST or SHOULD do as an incoming first year or transfer student in order to prepare for law school – no required classes or majors, no magic extracurricular activities.

Study what you love, pursue your passions, explore your interests.

You’ll find pages of info on undergraduate preparation for law school right here.  This post is the short version.


Beyond studying what you love, the most important things you can do in the classroom to enhance your eventual application to law school are the following:

  • Learn how to be a good writer – take classes in which you’ll write a lot and get good feedback on your writing.
  • Maintain a strong GPA.  Studying what you love will make this much easier.
  • Get to know your professors.  They’re an amazing resource, and the more they know about you, the better their eventual letters of recommendation can be.

Enrolling in law-related classes is NOT a prerequisite for getting into law school, but it may help you decide if law is the right path for you.

The list below can help you sample law in the classroom. This is NOT a complete list of all courses that touch on or provide background for understanding legal issues, only those most directly related to law. It is also limited to those classes offered at UMass (and not the other local colleges) this Fall. Unless otherwise noted, upper level courses (300 and 400) are NOT appropriate for entering freshmen. This list also does NOT indicate availability – classes may be full (check SPIRE). This list is in addition to ALL of the courses in the Legal Studies major.

General Education classes (GenEd designation in parentheses)

AFROAM 236—History of the Civil Rights Movement (HS U)
ANIMLSCI 260—Farm Animal Care & Welfare (SI)
ANTHRO 205—Inequality and Oppression (SB U)
ECON 105—Intro to Political Economy (SB U)
ECON 144H—Political Economy of Race (SB U) (Honors)
EDUC 115—Embracing Diversity (I U)
HIST 150/151—US History (HS U)
HIST 154—Social Change in the 1960s (HS U)
HIST 365H - US LGBT and Queer History, Honors (HS U)
JUDAIC 350—Jewish Law & Society (SB G)
LABOR 204—Labor & the Global Economy (SB)
PHIL 110—Introduction to Logic (R2)
PHIL 160—Introduction to Ethics (AT)
PHIL 164—Medical Ethics (AT)
PHIL 170—Problems in Social Thought (SB)
POLISCI 162—Introduction to Constitutional Law (SB)
PUBHLTH 129—Healthcare for All (SB U)
PUBP&ADM 195C—Transforming Your World: Introduction to Community Engagement (SB U)
RESECON 162—Consumer in Society (SB)
SCH-MGMT 350—Professional Ethics in Contemporary Society (SB)
SOCIOL 103—Social Problems (SB U)
SOCIOL 106—Race, Gender, Class and Ethnicity (SB U)
SOCIOL 224—Social Class and Inequality (SB U)
WMNSST 187—Gender, Sexuality and Culture (I U)

Faculty First Year Seminars

FFYS 197AST1 - The Law and Treaties Associated with Outer Space
FFYS 197EDU17 - (Dis)ability in American Civic Life & Higher Education
FFYS 197JRN3 - The Life of Undocumented Immigrants
FFYS 197LEG1 - Picking a U.S. Supreme Court Justice
FFYS 197LLC7 - Murder in a Cold Climate: The Icelandic Crime Novel
FFYS 197POL10 - Mass Killings in the U.S.
FFYS 197POL11 - Activism, Advocacy, and Citizenship
FFYS 197SOC4 - Immigration to the U.S.: Beyond the Public Hysteria

Residential Academic Programs (RAPs)

Impact: Self Awareness, Social Justice & Service
Investigating Politics
Social Justice & Activism

Upper-Level Classes (not Gen Eds)

Prerequisites may apply and/or courses may be restricted to declared majors. Not recommended for entering freshmen.

COMM 290AH—Media, Public Opinion, and LGBT Rights
ECON 330—Labor in the American Economy
ECON 394LI—Law and Economics
ENVIRSCI 213—Intro to Environmental Policy
HISTORY 397DV—History of Domestic Violence Law
HISTORY 397WLH—Women and the Law:  History of Sex and Gender Discrimination (Honors)
HISTORY 394EI - Human Rights & Energy in Eurasia
HT-MGT 320—Hospitality and Tourism Law
MGMT 260—Intro to [Business] Law
MGMT 361—Contracts in Business Relationships
POLISCI 356—International Law
POLISCI 360—Constitutional Law
POLISCI 365—Bill of Rights and Equal Protection
POLISCI 391E—Rules of War
POLISCI 395S - History of U.S. Social Policy, Politics of Gender, Race, and Class
POLISCI 397TWH—Terrorism, War & Democracy
PUBP&ADM 497C—Creating a Nonprofit
SOCIOL 241—Criminology
SOCIOL 342 - Deviance & Social Order
SOCIOL 343 - Hate Crime in America
SPRTMGT 335—Introduction to Sports Law
STPEC 492H— Achieving Equality and Social Change
WOMENSST 295M - Politics of Reproduction and Mothering
WOMENSST 395G—Gender, Sexuality, Race, and the Law: Critical Interventions


Pre-Law Society
The Pre-Law Society was formed in 2014-15 as a resource for UMass students from all majors who are interested in pursuing legal careers. As a new club, the Pre-Law Society is actively recruiting new members for events-planning, LSAT prep, and community among pre-law students.  Check out their website and Facebook page.

Mock Trial Team
Intercollegiate mock trial competition is unscripted and competitive in nature. Each team receives an identical case packet of a fictional criminal or civil legal case (containing evidence exhibits, witness affidavits, etc) and works together to strategically prepare a case.  Cases are tried against teams from other colleges/universities at tournaments. Collegiate mock trial contains theatrical elements (i.e., witness character performances), as real court cases often do, but is unpredictable in nature. Competing undergraduate teams take on the roles of lawyers and/or witnesses, using provided case law and rules of evidence to build a case against opponents.

UMass Amherst Mock Trial is open to entering freshmen, but students must try out to secure positions on the team.  For more information visit the Mock Trial website and Facebook page.

International Relations/Model UN
The University of Massachusetts International Relations Club is a registered student organization dedicated to the study of international relations, foreign policy, and world affairs. Through our Model United Nations team, students are able to travel to colleges and universities throughout North America to compete and learn about the inner workings of the United Nations and other international organizations. Students must negotiate and compromise during these intense weekends in order to address a number of issues that the world faces.

For more information, visit the IR/Model UN Club site and Facebook page.

Other clubs and teams
It’s important to remember that participation in these particular clubs or teams will not offer you any kind of preference in the law school admissions process. You should pursue those activities that most interest you – the more you put into the activity, the more you’ll get out of it. So whether it’s athletics, community service, student government, performing arts, Greek life, or anything else, explore it, pursue it with passion, and take on greater responsibilities throughout your college years. Regardless of the activity, you’ll acquire skills and experiences that will serve you well in law school and beyond.


“Internships” comprise a range of work experiences at companies, organizations and government bodies that can be for credit, for pay or volunteer. A law-related internship can provide you with an excellent opportunity to get a close-up view of legal practice in order to determine whether it’s really the career path you’d like to pursue. Credited internships are available to you once you’ve completed 45 credits at the university (paid or volunteer internships are available at any time). The Career Services website has much more information on all kinds of internships here. If you have declared a major, your department’s Internship Coordinator is also an excellent resource.

There are two law-related internship opportunities on campus.  The first is with the Student Legal Services Office, which provides free and low-cost legal assistance and representation to students at UMass.  Additional information can be found on the SLSO website. The second is the Student Government Association’s Conduct Advisor program, which provides counsel and support to students in the student conduct process.  Find out more about the program here.


The UMass Pre-Law Advising Office is available to answer questions large and small as you explore legal careers and legal education. We also host information sessions and lawyer-alumni events throughout the year.  Contact the Pre-Law Advisor, Diane Curtis, for an appointment, and “like” the Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @UMassPreLaw to keep up to date on news and events related to law school.