Pre-Law Studies

Choosing Courses

Hanover’s curriculum is designed to strengthen characteristics essential to practitioners of law. It offers a broad and rich education that sharpens important skills such as critical thinking, writing, and speaking; it challenges students to consider moral and ethical questions, historical change and its consequences, and current social and political issues; it inspires a deeper appreciation of arts and culture; and it encourages students to make connections among the disciplines. In our increasingly global society, the study of a second language is particularly appropriate for those interested in law. Depending on your interests, you may choose to take one or more elective courses that have legal themes, such as:

Com 349: Communication Law and Public Policy (Fall, even years)
This is a First Amendment law course in which students study the legal principals that both safeguard and restrict the media and speech.  Students read and brief cases, follow current legal controversies, and make arguments based on precedent. Assignments usually include: writing a paper that takes a policy stance on a proposed regulation or law change, making an oral argument on a case that is in the appellate process (often on the Supreme Court docket), and analyzing legal scenarios, often based on current "ripped from the headlines" situations.

English 340: Law and Literature (Fall)
This is a small, interdisciplinary seminar that is team-taught by English Professor Margot L. Tomsen and Senior Judge Ted R. Todd. The course will cover two longer texts by Shakespeare and Dickens, and short texts by Sophocles, Glaspell, Crane, Holmes, Lincoln, Jefferson’s “Declaration of Independence,” the Bill of Rights, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Thoreau. We will also cover specific cases—Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, and the United States v. Windsor. 

Philosophy 237: Ethics: Theory and Practice (Fall)
The connection between law and ethics is complex. However, there can be no doubt that most of the concepts that make up our legal system--justice, rights, obligation--have their origins in ethical theory.  This class will introduce you to these concepts and give you an opportunity to explore their implications for the law.

Philosophy 321: Formal Logic (Fall, odd years)
A course in formal logic is regarded as one of the best ways to prepare for the logical reasoning section of the LSAT. This course helps you develop a sharper sense of what follows (and what doesn't follow) logically from what.

Philosophy 331:  Philosophy of Law (Fall)
Philosophy and law intersect most obviously in Constitutional interpretation.  That is the focus of this course.  Different theories of Constitutional interpretation will be illustrated by discussion of significant Supreme Court cases.  The course concludes with an in-depth examination of a current Constitutional controversy.

Philosophy 335: Epistemology
Epistemology focuses on knowledge and related epistemic concepts, like rational belief, justification and evidence. These are central notions to legal theory and practice. Moreover, you will be writing argument analyses for most of the reading assignments in the class. These exercises will strengthen your ability to recognize the argument structure of a piece of writing and to reconstruct the argument in detail. These abilities are often cited as critical to success in law school. Finally, you will write a major thesis-defense paper in the class. This experience will require you to stake a position on an issue, support your position with positive arguments and defend your position against substantial objections.

Political Science 232: The Problem of Order: Law, Politics (contact Ron Smith)
This course considers the relationship between law and society: why is law necessary? Where does law come from? And in what ways has law been used or abused through history? If you are interested in thinking about the law beyond what is studied in law school, this course would be beneficial to you.

Political Science 326: Constitutional Law (Winter)
This course focuses on the evolving understanding of the Bill of Rights as seen through key Supreme Court cases. You might consider this course if you would like a preview of what reading and briefing cases will be like in law school.

Political Science 331: International Law and Organizations (Winter)
Discussing how international law shapes and is shaped by international politics, this course addresses one of the many options within the realm of law. Students interested in working in the international arena will find that many people working with international organizations, including non-governmental organizations, have a law degree.

Sociology 326: Juvenile Delinquency (Fall)
This course provides an overview of theoretical and empirical research on juvenile offending and analyzes historical and contemporary efforts to control and prevent delinquency.  Students interested in criminal law should find this course a useful introduction to youth crime and the juvenile justice system.

Sociology 336: Crime and Corrections (Winter)
This course considers both crime and corrections: why do people commit crime? What is the nature of this criminal activity? How do and should we control crime and deal with criminals? Students interested in criminal law will find this course a beneficial introduction to adult crime and the criminal justice system.

Interdepartmental 357: Pre-law Internship (Any term or summer)
Students meeting requirements of the academic internship program are able to earn a unit of credit while working in a courtroom or law office. Experience is valuable not only in confirming an interest in the field, but in developing contacts for the future.