Most students would probably agree that the prospect of a liberal arts education is appealing: in-depth study, strong foundations of learning, critical thinking, all building a broad base of knowledge and a confident segue into the job market. However, as seniors turn their eyes towards life after college, the question arises: what is someone supposed to do with a degree in English or film or astronomy? Surely University alumni have taken their years here and reached unparalleled heights in various careers, but some have also faced down the impossible specter of “what next?”
This fall, however, a group of students have been working together to pull together one of the University’s first pre-professional clubs. Carrying on a long line of successful University-bred lawyers and attorneys, the fledgling pre-law society plans to build a support system for students interested in pursuing law in the near future. While there is no distinct pre-law major or set of pre-law requirements, the group plans to develop a network for the judiciary-minded.
The group first surfaced at the student activities fair in early September, where the society was met with high levels of interest from the student body.
“We’d brought fifty of so surveys to see what prospective members would be looking for in a pre-law society,” said Jessica Bowen ’11, one of the society’s founders. “By the end we were entirely out. It was great to have that sort of interest and give us that confidence in our plans.”
However, the idea for a pre-law society started picking up momentum over the summer.
“I had been here for the summer, doing research, often with other universities, and I found that a lot of other universities on Wesleyan’s level had this sort of society,” Bowen said. “Stanford had one, Wellesley had one, Harvard, and I started looking at what they did, how students found them helpful. I began talking to [Pre-Law Advisor] Jim Kubat as to why we didn’t have one. He told me that actually their had been two other students who had been toying around with the idea, and the three of us, plus Jim, began meeting, and it grew out of that.”
Kubat had been attempting to form a society for many years, but minimal student interest drove back initial attempts. However, upon initial meetings with Andrew Huynh ’11 and Chris Kaltsas ’11—who became the society’s other student founders last spring—the idea began to cement.
“We had been trying for some time, but the stars didn’t line up,” Kubat said. “But now with renewed interest, we’re seeing it as a way students don’t have to be committed to [studying] law, but are interested and can immediately meet those who share that interest.”
The group is currently planning to operate as a vehicle for students interested in law to meet, discuss legal issues, and build connections in the legal field. Drawing input from a core group of students, the society is currently planning numerous events as well as opportunities for group members to meet with professional lawyers.
“There’s a lot of potential for concrete value to come out of the society,” Kubat said. “It’s a source of support for students and we’re hoping to host plenty of events, say LSAT study groups, and speakers to discuss legal issues and career advice. Students have proposed a dinner or barbeque for later in the year.”
Adding to the enormous potential of the Pre-Law Society is the concurrent formation of the Wesleyan Lawyers Association earlier this year. The University’s community of lawyers will kick off this weekend at the Woodhead Lounge. This prospect has given the group unparalleled access to the personal resource of University alumni, both as a source of networking and as an answer to the myriad questions of career choice.
“While the connection between the two groups is truly an interest in the field, there’s a new level of access to mentorship and advice for interested students as well as using the association to tap into potential speakers,” Kubat said. “The association is very interested in helping out these sort of students.”
Kubat and the societies leaders agree that the pre-law society has a optimistic future. With guidance and the renewed interest in law currently seen in both students and alumni, the society hopes to continue its initial success long into the future.
“We’re rolling with the momentum of all the student interest,” Bowen said. “We’re excited for the future.”