Pre-law Advising Personalizes Student Pathways to Law School
Combined with Stonehill’s rigorous academics and emphasis on critical thinking skills, the advising program gives these future lawyers a strong competitive advantage.
Caroline Lambert ’16 was so confident in her lifelong career goal, becoming a lawyer, that she figured her undergraduate education was just a path to law school. “What I didn’t anticipate,” she says, “is how much my experiences over four years at Stonehill would prepare me to go to law school — and to become a successful lawyer.”
Those experiences, ranging from being president of the Mock Trial team to studying abroad at Oxford University and on-campus events with policymakers such as Massachusetts Sen. Edward Markey, were underpinned by the strength of Stonehill’s advising services for students interested in a career in law. “Advising is offered early on for students pursuing majors in the pre-law realm,” explains Professor Robert Rodgers, Political Science & International Studies Department chair and head of pre-law advising at the College.
“Students often arrive at Stonehill with interest in the law that isn’t fully defined,” he explains. “So first, we make sure they have a sense of what their options and opportunities are and the courses, extra- and cocurricular, and internships that will prepare them for law school.”
For all students interested in matriculating at a law school, that advice includes both maintaining a high GPA and factoring certain courses into their academic profile. During junior year, an on-campus LSAT preparatory class is available to all pre-law students to identify their strengths and weaknesses on the standardized test and develop a personalized strategy for success in taking it.
Keeping Options Open
Among the options and opportunities for Stonehill pre-law students is a direct-entry program with Villanova University School of Law — a pathway of three years at Stonehill and three years at Villanova — with a full-tuition law school scholarship for Stonehill juniors who qualify for the program.
Lauren Walsh ’23 just completed her Stonehill senior year and her first year of law school at Villanova. Though she found the practicality of the combined program appealing, she also appreciated early on that she was not “locked in” to it right away. Instead, she leaned on Rodgers to guide her forward on her Stonehill pathway, selecting courses that left her options open and pursuing a finance internship with the Office of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.
By the time Walsh was ready to commit to the six-year combined program, she felt fully prepared. “We used the same constitutional law textbook at Villanova as we did at Stonehill,” she notes. “The format of my undergraduate law classes, combined with my comfort in seeking advice from professors and learning to self-advocate, has truly benefited me in law school.”
Courtroom-Worthy Critical Thinking
In addition to the academic benefits of Stonehill’s robust pre-law advising program, Lambert says that other skills it confers, such as critical thinking, directly connect to her day-to-day work as a white-collar investigations and compliance associate in the Boston office of international law firm Locke Lord LLP. In particular, the analysis skills she honed as a member of the Mock Trial team help her better separate the salient facts of a given case. Lambert is so convinced of the Mock Trial program’s strengths that she joined the Stonehill faculty as an adjunct professor, leading current students in the program.
“The pertinent skill is in asking, ‘What is the information presented, and how and why does it fit into the bigger picture we’re trying to present?’” she says. “Those are the same skills that guide our students in putting together their own case theory.”
Advising Without Limits
Unlike Lambert and Walsh, many other students complete some or all their Stonehill education before realizing a career in law might be for them. Joey Masciangioli ’13 was three years out from his Stonehill graduation when he emailed Rodgers to share his interest in attending law school and seek advice on his next steps.
Rodgers says a critical element of his role as advisor is to help prospective law students find their way to the right school for them. “It’s not one size fits all,” he explains. “So, I help them really narrow down their area of interest, because a law school that excels in one practice area and has top ranking overall may not actually be the best in another practice area.”
Masciangioli was interested in keeping a position at the Massachusetts State House while attending law school, which led him to Suffolk Law’s part-time program. He says Stonehill prepared him thoroughly for the rigors of law school and his current position as general counsel and senior policy advisor in the office of Massachusetts House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano.
“I’ve always had an inclination for public service, and I love using my Stonehill and law degrees to ask the right questions and critically think about complex problems that impact people in a variety of ways,” he says.