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Wednesday, August 5, 2015
Why Law School Could be the Perfect Place for STEM Students
Many years ago, I sat at a writing seminar for law students. It was at a big hotel in Los Angeles, and attended by hundreds. The speaker was dynamic. One of the points that resonated for me was his comment about undergraduate backgrounds of law students. He polled the audience regarding their fields of study. Predictably, most of us had degrees in the humanities.
He told us we had picked the wrong majors.
Clearly, this was for effect. His point, however, was not lost on us. He was trying to teach us how to better respond to law school examination questions, which are largely essay-based. Being able to write well, he suggested, was of little use to us. Instead, he noted, that math, engineering and science majors tend to think differently. They are more linear. They think in bullet points.
This is a valuable tool in legal analysis. Most exams, including the bar, demand that students process a large amount of information quickly, then distill it into a concise, cohesive argument. Law students must also support argument with law. This process may align with traditional essay composition. But it is more easily paralleled with the explanation process of, say, a scientific experiment.
And the law profession needs patent lawyers. They need scientists in environmental law. They need intellectual property lawyers who understand technology. These are non-traditional qualities essential to the competency of the legal profession.
So for the STEM students that hadn't before considered it, law has the potential to be an surprisingly good fit. What may make them stand out could also cause them to excel in unexpected ways.
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