This cross-disciplinary program prepares students who have a broad interest in law, or who plan to pursue a law degree or work in law-related fields. Introductory courses explore subjects and concepts in philosophy, politics, economics, history, sociology, religion, and ethical and scientific issues central to understanding the role of law and legal institutions in society. Exposure to these subjects is expanded through presentations by visiting scholars, jurists, and lawyers.
Majors develop strong writing, analytical, and legal reasoning skills and a better understanding of the workings of the American legal system. Students interested in law often choose the Law and Society Program as a second major.
The program often serves as a springboard to careers or further study in journalism, education and teaching, litigation, and legal advocacy. Our majors attend graduate school in the social sciences and humanities when they wish to center their work on law and legal institutions. Others have attended the Program in Jurisprudence and Social Policy at the University of California, Berkeley.
If your goal is to attend law school, understand that no single major is the key to gaining admission to law school. Rather, you should choose a major that interests you and challenges you to become a better student. Oberlin has enjoyed an 83 percent acceptance rate into law schools over the past several years. Our graduates attend the full range of notable law schools: Boston College, Duke, Cornell, Georgetown, Harvard, New York University, Vanderbilt, Yale, University of Chicago, Northeastern, University of Michigan, and the University of California, Berkeley.
Majors take courses and seminars focused on law and legal institutions, as well as those exploring the historical, political, ethical, sociological, and philosophical underpinnings of the development of law, thought, and institutions. You’ll also develop your analytical skills to guide your understanding of the logic and basics of legal thinking as a language in legal institutions, the broader society, and law.
Private readings and research projects will enhance your learning experiences and give you a forum for sharing your ideas and work.
In addition to taking formal courses, students can apply to the Oberlin Law Scholars Program, a unique, selective, yearlong program for a maximum of 12 students per year. Open to sophomores and juniors of any major, the program features an introductory course in legal advocacy; a Moot Court experience; legal writing practice; funded summer internships with law firms, advocacy groups, government agencies, and attorney general and prosecution offices; a distinguished speakers series; field trips; assistance with funding for law school admissions; and academic advising.
Scholars are prepared to enter law school and apply critical thinking, investigative, and research skills to law. Scholars also develop strong oral and written communication skills and learn to work in teams as well as independently.
A group of faculty members, Curricular Committee on Law and Society, approves and supervises the major. The committee hosts speakers and symposia on law-related issues, and collaborates with Oberlin’s Career Center to develop meaningful internships.
The Law and Society Curricular Committee members are:
Timothy Hall, chair, philosophy
Ron Kahn, Monroe Professor of Politics and Law
Patty deWinstanley, psychology
Harry Hirsch, politics
Greggor Mattson, sociology