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New student organization establishes what pre-law looks like at Carleton

On Friday, April 26, sitting on either side of a long dining table in Burton with full plates and high ambitions, the members of Carleton’s new Pre-Law Society began their first meeting. 

The group’s members quickly introduced themselves by giving their names and class years, and conversation flowed easily between topics both relevant and not. After some small talk, discussion moved to the new organization’s main interest: how the group can better support Carls interested in legal careers.

The Pre-Law Society is the first of its kind at Carleton, combining the passions of law-school bound students and the knowledge and resources of Laura Clemens, Pre-Law Advisor and Associate Director of the Career Center. The idea behind this new group was concocted, perhaps unsurprisingly, by a group of mock trial team members in a van. 

Oswaldo Cota ’22, a Class of 2022 CSA representative, recounted: “The Pre-law society was just a brainstorm that I pitched to my fellow teammates on our way to a mock tournament in winter term. Cas Roland said they were willing to work with me on it, so I decided to start researching what being pre-law meant at Carleton.” 

According to its members, the motivation for establishing this group was to demystify the path to law school and careers in the legal field. 

For many students, especially those without connections to the legal world, it can be a daunting process to navigate by themselves. 

“Coming to a liberal arts college that does not have a pre-law group made me feel overwhelmed as a first-generation student,” explained Cota. “I had no idea where I should turn to make sense of my dream to pursue law.” 

Breaking into a career in the legal realm was “very difficult without structure and guidance,” said Nina Kaushikkar ’22, another Pre-Law group member. “It would be nice to connect with people who have done it before and upperclassmen who are going through the steps right now.”  

By creating a community for students and collaborating with Laura Clemens, the Pre-Law society hopes to mitigate the stress and confusion students might encounter on the Pre-Law track. 

“Pre-med students have a support group that makes them feel more steady in the midst of the chaotic environment of Carleton’s academics,” said Cota. “I feel that Pre-Law students should have that resource readily available in the form of, not just a program, but rather a family.”

Clemens advises students at Carleton who are thinking about legal careers, and she suspects, “The Pre-Law society will have many great impacts. It’ll create a student cohort that can talk and share, encouraging each other as they go work toward law school.”

The organization has been looking forward to fall term, planning future meetings, events, and other resources for students. 

Notably, the Pre-Law society is working on obtaining LSAT prep books and offering prep courses and study sessions. The group, in addition, will potentially offer clinics and a “curriculum” for students, walking them through the law school application process. 

According to Carleton’s career center, an average of 89 percent of applicants from Carleton are accepted into law school, which includes elite institutions such as Stanford, Columbia and Yale.

“Any student who goes to Carleton is capable of getting into law school, but this group offers something special for students I think,” said Clemens. 

Clemens continued “I always thought this would be a perfect campus for a Pre-Law group that was student-driven. Student organizations are great places for students to come together with similar interests and build support networks.” 

In her role as an advisor, Clemens also believes the society will help her better gauge the interests of Pre-Law students. “I can sit [in my office] and think about what you guys need, but the truth is I applied to law school 13 years ago. I want to hear straight from the students what their needs are so I can provide that.” 

Students involved in the group are excited for the Pre-law Society’s potential to help students, and they are appreciative for this community which understands the challenges they face.

“As a student considering law school for my future, I’m thankful that such a group exists,” shared Cas Roland ’22. “It’s valuable for me to have a community of peers that are equally driven to similar goals.”

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