APU Legal Studies Online Learning Original

Why Studying Philosophy Can Be Useful for Aspiring Lawyers

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By Dr. Steve Wyre
Faculty Member, Philosophy

If you want the best preparation to be successful in law school, I suggest that getting a B.A. in philosophy may be one of your best options. A philosophy degree from the University provides you with an opportunity to develop the skills you’ll need for the Law Admission School Test (LSAT) and for the practice of law.

Philosophy Helps You Develop the Right Skills for Law School

The American Bar Association (ABA) does not endorse any specific undergraduate degree. However, the ABA suggests that “Whatever major you select, you are encouraged to pursue an area of study that interests and challenges you, while taking advantage of opportunities to develop your research and writing skills.”

That description could fit nearly any undergraduate degree, and the ABA lists options ranging from English to nursing. In the list, you can find “Philosophy,” but there are less-than-subtle clues that point to the philosophy major as the perfect fit for aspiring lawyers.

Core Skills for Law School Include Problem Solving, Critical Reading, Writing and Editing

The ABA notes that core skills for law school include problem solving, critical reading, writing and editing. All of these skills are core objectives of our online bachelor of arts degree in philosophy.

The ABA encourages future lawyers to take classes that “challenge [their] beliefs” and promote critical thinking. Also recommended are courses that “include substantial experience at close reading and critical analysis of complex textual material.” There may not be a better learning objective for most philosophy classes.

If you take a philosophy class, for instance, one of the first things you are likely to be told is that one does not read a philosophy text like most other texts. The reading material should be addressed slowly and deliberately, and you should take time to ponder and analyze the text as you read. That is perfect preparation for any aspiring lawyer.

Related link: Acquire Law Industry Skills with a New Legal Studies Degree

Obtaining a Philosophy Degree Could Also Be Helpful for the GRE and GMAT

Additionally, EDsmart lists philosophy as one of the top options sought at law schools. But if you look at the LSAT scores for the 10 most popular majors listed on the site, philosophy has the highest score.

In the media, you may see claims that philosophy majors historically achieve superior scores on the LSAT, and it is true. Depending on the resource, this major is always in the top 10.

However, Daily Nous also presents some fascinating research by Thomas Metcalf, associate professor of Philosophy at Spring Hill College. Metcalf’s research demonstrates that obtaining a philosophy degree enhances the skills needed on not only the LSAT but the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) as well. Daily Nous also notes, “In some areas, especially writing and reasoning, a philosophy education seems to create measurable improvements in academic skill versus most of the common majors.”

Obtaining a philosophy degree is not a panacea or any guarantee of success in any law school. But if you want to build or enhance the skills you need to be successful in most graduate degrees, then it would be worth your time to consider the University’s philosophy program.

Related link: Despite Pandemic, Law Fraternity Racks Up Successes in 2020

Useful Concentrations in the Philosophy Program

In 2021, “Legal Theory” became one of the concentrations available with our B.A. in philosophy. The other options are Ethics, Healthcare, and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Each of these concentrations requires 15 credit hours of taking courses designed to complement the bachelor’s degree in philosophy, while enhancing the student’s understanding of topics particular to each area.

A New Course Has Been Added to Our Philosophy Degree

For aspiring lawyers, there are 13 courses to choose from. These options include courses like Civil Practice and Procedure, Cyberlaw and Privacy in a Digital Age, Family Law, and Constitutional Law.

In addition, the University recently added a Philosophy of Law (PHIL330) course to its catalog because the topic may be fascinating to many people. The best description of this course comes from its primary author, Dr. Andrew Israelsen: “Philosophy of Law examines the philosophical foundations of law and various theories regarding the nature of law and its paradigmatic features. The course considers Legal Positivism and Natural Law Theories as alternate accounts of the nature and origin of law, the paradigmatic legal roles of ‘subject,’ ‘legislator,’ and ‘judge,’ and the nature of both criminal and tort law.

“Further issues explored include justice, morality in its relation to the law, rights, duties, punishment, challenges to the law, legal reform, and social justice. By the end of the course, students should have a solid understanding of the major competing theories of law, as well as the justification for many of law’s paradigmatic features, and potential challenges to those justifications.”

If you are considering pursuing an advanced degree in law, business or most other areas, you may want to look into the philosophy program at the University. If you would like to know more and be informed of upcoming events, please visit the Philosophy Department’s website and subscribe to our mailing list.

Dr. Steve Wyre received his B.A. and M.A. in philosophy from the University of Oklahoma and his Ed.D. from the University of Phoenix. He has been teaching various ground-based philosophy courses since 2000 and online since 2003. Steve has also served as a subject matter expert (SME) for courses in ancient philosophy, ethics, logic and several other areas.

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