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Making Law Fun: W&J's Pre-Legal Society

Are you a future lawyer? A student interested in learning more about a career in law? Or maybe just a diehard fan of Boston Legal or Law and Order? Regardless of where you lie along this spectrum, Washington & Jefferson's Pre-Legal Society has much to offer.

Headed by Dr. Disarro, W&J's experienced and well-connected legal expert, the Pre-Legal Society provides a forum for likeminded students to meet and share their interest in law. Far from elitist, Pre-Legal Society makes great efforts to be as inclusive as possible: membership is open to all majors and you don't need an extensive background in law in order to join. In fact, for many members, Pre-Legal Society is an eye-opening experience that shows them what really goes on in the legal profession. Unlike some law-related student organizations -- like Mock Trial -- that demand intense time commitments, you dictate your own level of involvement in the Pre-Legal Society; members are free to attend as many (or few) of the meetings, events, and guest lectures Pre-Legal Society offers as they like. 

So what exactly does the Pre-Legal Society offer?

A. A Way to Learn More About the Legal Profession

If you don't have much experience with the legal profession, Pre-Legal Society's speakers and law immersion programs give you a chance to see what lawyers really do, clearing up some of the misconceptions created by popular TV shows and movies. On the other hand, if you're already serious about law and know that you want to become a lawyer, Pre-Legal Society allows you to meet lawyers from many different branches of law, giving you a chance to find your niche within the profession.
 
B. A Community of Support

The process of preparing to apply to law school can be both stressful and isolating; while your friends are concentrating on their imminent graduation and looking forward to job applications, you are building a resume, choosing law schools to apply to, taking the LSAT, and writing countless essays. Being in contact with people who are going through the same process creates a stress-reducing community of support.

C. Exciting Events

Pre-Legal Society sponsors on-campus lectures, a film series (discussed below), and trips to Washington D.C. that tour the Capitol, meet with judges and lawyers, and visit law firms.

D. LSAT Preparation

The LSAT is the most difficult -- and important -- test you will take if you decide you want to become a lawyer. Every year, thousands of law school applicants see their dreams come to an end because they don't score high enough on this exam. Pre-Legal Society looks out for Washington & Jefferson's prospective lawyers by organizing LSAT preparation courses, study sessions, and practice tests.

E. Networking

In the real world, sometimes "who you know" not "what you know" will land you the interview or job offer you're looking for. Being a member of W&J's Pre-Legal Society both gives you access to a strongly established alumni network and allows you to draw upon Dr. Disarro's extensive contacts. Former Pre-Legal Society President Mandy Meighen stressed the latter point, stating, "It's ridiculous the amount of people he knows...he's really well-connected."

Food, Fun, and Film: The Classic Law Film Series


Looking for something to do on a slow night? If free refreshments and award-winning films sound like your idea of a good time, W&J's Classic Law Film Series may just save you from boredom. Each year, this program -- a partnership between W&J's Pre-Legal Society and the Washington County Bar Association -- presents movies highlighting different aspects of the legal profession. Despite the Film Series's educational component, it aims to entertain first, educate second; instead of screening obscure, documentary-esque films, the Classic Law Film Series selects popular Hollywood productions such as Psycho and Vertigo by Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Redford's The Candidate.

And if that wasn't enough, each film comes with free food -- courtesy of the Pre-Legal Society -- and a guest speaker who introduces the movie, provides background information on the topic, and further develops the legal concepts shown in the film. After the movie, you'll get a chance to discuss specific aspects of the feature, such as whether         
the film portrayed the legal profession accurately or whether the cases presented in the                 The Famous Shower Scene From
film had real-life counterparts. These discussions complement the on-screen material                              Hitchcock's Psycho
nicely, allowing you to extend your understanding of each movie by listening to others'
interpretations.

Interested? Here are some things you'll need to know to go to one of the Classic Law Film Series screenings:

When: Once or twice a month. Specific showings are advertised by the Pre-Legal Society.

Where: W&J's Burnett Center

Cost: All W&J students get in free

What Pre-Legal Society Means to Me

Narrative given by Danielle Luisi, Treasurer of the Pre-Legal Society for 2006-2007, on April 18, 2007.

Since the first semester of my freshman year, I've known that I wanted to go to law school after graduation. With this goal in mind, when it came time to join student organizations, the Pre-Legal Society seemed like an obvious choice. I went to a meeting, signed up, and never looked back; without exception, my experiences with the Pre-Legal Society have been both memorable and rewarding.

Among the many great memories I have from the Pre-Legal Society -- serving as secretary, attending the Film Series, making countless friends, etc -- the Pre-Legal Society sponsored trip to Washington D.C. holds a special place in my heart. While in our nation's capital, I sat in on a Supreme Court argument, visited Congress, and saw the monuments. For aspiring lawyers and politicians, Washington D.C. embodies both the history and current peak of our professions. To use a sports analogy, its like being able to go to the same place to see the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Major League World Series. The event had such a profound impact on me that I undertook the responsibility of planning the next year's trip, determined to give other members of the Pre-Legal Society the same opportunity I had.

Besides being memorable, my experiences with the Pre-Legal Society have also been very rewarding. The Pre-Legal Society has provided support throughout the entire law school application process. Whenever I've needed advice, LSAT prep materials, or ideas for personal statements, the upperclassmen have been here for me. Dr. Disarro has helped a lot, too. Anytime I've had to ask him a question, he's made time for me; he truly cares and won't hesitate to turn a 30-second answer into an hour-long check-in session. I've enjoyed our relationship so much that I recently chose to do a study abroad trip to the Western Caribbean with him.

For the last four years, the Pre-Legal Society has been everything I'd hoped for in a student organization -- and more. When I attend Loyola University's Chicago School of Law next fall, I won't forget the support I received from Dr. Disarro and the Pre-Legal Society upperclassmen. 

Ways to Get Involved with the Pre-Legal Society

1. Sign up at the Student Activities Fair at the beginning of the year.

2. Show up at any meeting throughout the year.

3. Get in contact with any of the current officers or Dr. Disarro*

*Contact information for current officers and Dr. Disarro can be found at the Office of Student Activities in The Hub

Helpful Links

W&J Links for Prospective Lawyers:

Pre-Law: This links to the page describing W&J's Pre-Law Program.

Clubs and Organizations: This links to W&J's student clubs and organizations. Here you can find other law-related activities like Mock Trial.
External Links for Prospective Lawyers: 

Washington County Bar Association: This site provides information about the Classic Law Film Series, including which movies will be shown throughout the year.

Law School Admission Council: The official site of the Law School Admission council has information about the LSAT, law school rankings, financial aid data, and much more.

Pre-Law Handbook: For those who want to become a lawyer -- and haven't already found this site -- this link will be quite helpful. It takes you through the entire pre-law process, beginning with how to choose an undergraduate major and ending with how to get through law school (successfully). It tackles some of the most frequently asked questions such as "What do law school look at when making admissions decisions?" and "When and where should I apply to law school?".

Special Thanks

I'd like to thank the following people and organizations for their contributions to my wiki:

  • Mandy Meighan -- The sections "Making Law Fun" and "Food, Fun, and Film" were created with the information Mandy relayed to me through a personal interview on 4/10/07.
  • Dr. Harding and Matt Gardzina -- Dr. Harding and Matt taught me how to use the W&J's Confluence software and helped me to solve any technical problems I encountered.
  • Gilbert Law -- The picture of the "scales of justice" was obtained from Gilbert Law's website, phillipgilbertlaw.com.
  • The Washington County Bar Association -- The WCBA website, www.washcobar.org, provided information on the Classic Law Film Series.
  • The Harvard Film Archive -- I obtained the picture from Psycho from this organization's website, www.harvardfilmarchive.org.

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