The Legal Studies Department offers courses and programs for students interested in learning about our legal system and understanding how law addresses (or fails to address) societal issues. Our courses are particularly relevant to those considering becoming a lawyer or paralegal or working in a heavily regulated field, but are applicable to nearly every future pursuit. In Legal Studies, students learn about the law in the context of Hamline’s liberal arts tradition and long-standing commitment to community involvement aimed at developing excellent critical thinking and communication skills. Courses in the Legal Studies Department are taught by experienced legal studies professors, who are themselves lawyers, together with practicing lawyers who teach as adjunct faculty. Our students complete internships with law firms, government agencies, court systems, corporations, and non-profit organizations. In addition to the major, the Legal Studies Department offers an ABA-approved Paralegal Certificate Program and a nationally-recognized mock trial program.
The Legal Studies Department also provides solid academic preparation and an enriched learning environment for students who wish to attend law school or pursue other graduate legal education. Additionally, the Hamline Plan provides a broad-based education, ensuring that pre-law students develop the reading, analyzing, writing, and speaking skills sought by law schools. Pre-law students can major in any field, and law-related classes and activities foster and develop the students’ critical thinking and other important skills and their interest in law while they prepare for law school. After completing their baccalaureate degree, students who want to be lawyers will need to earn a law degree and pass the bar.
Graduates from Hamline University’s Legal Studies Department will be able to:
- Demonstrate analytical and critical thinking skills appropriate to the study of legal issues and legal problems in the United States.
- Demonstrate a broad understanding of public and private law across the curriculum including courses that emphasize diverse perspectives.
- Investigate and explain current legal issues using appropriate legal research methodology and legal writing skills.
- Communicate effectively in writing and in speaking with diverse audiences in a variety of formal and informational legal settings.
Hamline Legal Studies who also complete the Hamline’s Graduate Paralegal Certificate will be able to:
- Demonstrate competence in key foundational areas of U.S. law including mastering knowledge of the structure, components, and functioning of the U.S. legal systems.
- Find, synthesize, and explain the reasoning and rules contained in legal authorities and apply them to a variety of legal situations using rule based reasoning.
- Master appropriate strategies and technologies to retrieve, use, and manage research materials and digital information effectively and efficiently, including effective legal citation.
- Understand and fulfill ethical obligations required of professionals who work in legal environments.
- Apply advanced legal knowledge and skills in legal practice experience.
Academic Program Overview
The Legal Studies Department offers two majors, two minors, a double major in legal studies/women’s studies, a graduate paralegal certificate (GPC), and a master in the study of law (MSL).
Legal Studies Major
The legal studies major is designed to be flexible. This major suits the needs and interests of pre-law students, students completing their paralegal certificate, and students majoring in other disciplines heavily impacted by law such as criminal justice, business, environmental studies, political science, communications, management, and international studies. Hamline’s undergraduate program provides specific training in law and related professional skills within the context of a broader liberal arts education.
Law School Early Admission (3-3) Programs
Highly motivated and talented students may complete their undergraduate degree and law school in just six years in a collaboration with the Mitchell Hamline School of Law. The Legal Studies Department offers its own 3-3 path, the Legal Studies-Law School Early Admission (LGST-LSEA) Major. Students completing the LGST-LSEA Major complete a minor in another discipline. Law School Early Admission students may also choose to major in another discipline, but are required to complete the Law School Early Admissions Minor through the Legal Studies Department. Students interested in either 3-3 program should meet with an academic advisor in the relevant departments early in their undergraduate career to discuss.
Double-major in Legal Studies and Women’s Studies
This interdisciplinary double major provides students with a unique program of study which allows them to explore intersections between the law and other areas such as gender, sexuality, race, class, and ability. This combination of learning experiences in two fields, as well as practical and theoretical tools, prepares students to make social change in the pursuit of creating a better world for everyone. Students develop competencies that will allow them to engage in a variety of opportunities in the law, public policy, non-profit work, human services, legislative initiatives, human rights, or social service. Highly motivated students can choose to simultaneously complete a graduate paralegal certificate; this pairing of practical legal training with a liberal arts program focused on cultural and political awareness is highly valued by employers.
Legal Studies Minor
This minor is appropriate for students majoring in fields that are impacted by law and legal regulation such as political science, communications, and business. A legal studies minor is also a good choice for students who are considering law school. The legal studies minor is not intended to prepare students to work as paralegals.
Graduate Paralegal Certificate
Undergraduate students majoring in legal studies can apply to earn their graduate paralegal certificate simultaneously with their major. A paralegal certificate does not qualify the recipient to provide legal services directly to clients or the public except as permitted by law; it prepares students to work in a law office or other law-related setting under the supervision of attorneys. See the Paralegal Certificate section in the Graduate Bulletin for more information.
Master in the Study of Law
This program offers the foundational training of an ABA-approved paralegal certificate with specific study in one area of legal concentration (social justice, professional practice management, litigation support, conflict resolution) to graduate students from any profession who are interested in law but don’t want to work as a lawyer. See the MSL section in the Graduate Bulletin for more information.
Note: The legal studies programs do not qualify students to sit for the bar examination or to work as lawyers. Postgraduate study in an American Bar Association-approved law school after graduation from college is required to practice law.
The Legal Studies Department supports students seeking the opportunity to pursue departmental honors projects, which exhibit distinctive scholarship, originality of thought, and a high degree of relevance to a major issue in the discipline. Students interested in pursuing honors should meet with a faculty advisor early in their junior year and consult the department’s and University’s project guidelines.
Legal studies students may complete an internship as their capstone experience. Legal studies majors intern with lawyers, corporate law departments, non-profits, the courts, and government agencies.
Our students compete in Mock Trial, participate in Center for Justice and Law activities, volunteer with the Minnesota Justice Foundation partner organizations, and participate in the Hamline University Law and Justice Society. There are teaching assistant and work study opportunities in the department as well.
Hamline’s Mock Trial Program is open to all Hamline students. Mock trial participants learn about the American legal system and trial advocacy, and practice those skills in the classroom setting and at tournaments. The competitive team requires additional time commitments and the opportunity to participate in advanced tournaments both locally and across the nation.
Faculty and Staff
Stephen Arnott, associate professor. BA (Hons) 1981, University of Tasmania; JD 1994, William Mitchell College of Law. Alternative dispute resolution, contracts, evidence, legal research and writing, family law, international law, legal interviewing, senior seminar. Professional Associations: Minnesota State Bar Association, American Association for Paralegal Education.
Judy Gunnarson, assistant director, paralegal certificate program. BS Business, University of Minnesota, 1986; Post-Baccalaureate Paralegal Certificate, Hamline University, 2011. Professional Associations: Minnesota Paralegal Association, American Association for Paralegal Education.
Leondra Hanson, associate professor, chair, director of graduate legal education. BA 1995 Concordia College, JD 1999 University of Minnesota. Admitted to the bar in Minnesota 1999, Minnesota Federal District Court 1999 and Montana 2000. Legal systems in American society, legal research and writing, law in the lives of women, real property. Professional Associations: Minnesota State Bar Association, American Association for Paralegal Education.
Jeanne Kosieradzki, professor. BS 1986, Winona State University; JD 1991, William Mitchell College of Law. Legal ethics, civil litigation and trial practice, legal systems in American society, tort law. Professional Associations: Minnesota Association for Justice, Minnesota State Bar Association.
Kelly Rodgers, mock trial director, BA 2008 Hamline University, JD Hamline University School of Law. Admitted to the Bar in South Dakota, 2011. Admitted to the Bar in Minnesota, 2012. Beginning mock trial, advanced mock trial, legal systems in American society, legal interviewing.
Jennifer Will, assistant professor. BA 1990, Hope College; JD 1994, University of Michigan Law School. Legal writing and research, employment law, legal advocacy, policy and practice.