Bridging Disciplines Programs to debut undergraduate pre-law course in fall

Maria Mendez

In collaboration with the University of Texas School of Law, the Bridging Disciplines Programs will introduce a new course called “Thinking Like A Lawyer” for undergraduate students in the fall.

The BDP 126 course, open to all upper-division students, will be the first course at UT to try to mirror a class in law school.

“This course will focus on the raw materials of the legal process more closely than is done in most other classes,” said Ward Farnsworth, dean of UT School of Law and professor of the course, in an email. “The students will study judicial opinions, just as lawyers do, and learn how to think and argue about their implications from different angles. They will get a taste of law school.”

UT does not currently offer an official pre-law track or curriculum for students. Jeanette Herman, assistant dean and director of the BDPs, said pre-law advisors from individual colleges recommend courses in various departments such as philosophy and government. Additionally, law professors occasionally teach undergraduate courses.

Herman said the course developed from a proposal from the law school to offer an undergraduate course.

“Since the Law School doesn’t offer undergraduate courses, they needed a partner and thought the Bridging Disciplines Programs would be a logical place to offer the course,” Herman said in an email.  “We agreed, and we thought this course would be a wonderful opportunity for undergraduates interested in this topic.”

Farnsworth said students will study skills they will need to be successful in law school.

Larissa Noake, BDPs senior program coordinator, said that the class was recently expanded because of the course’s popular demand. Students must have an upper-division standing to register for the class.

“We've just moved the course to a larger room, so we now have 50 seats still available in the class,” Noake said in an email.

Even though the course is designed to help students interested in law decide if law school is the right option for them, the course can prove beneficial to students from any discipline or field of study, Farnsworth said

“It’s also meant to be worthwhile for those who will never be law students,” Farnsworth said.  “It is useful for anyone — lawyer or not — to understand a bit about how the legal system works and how lawyers think about problems and conflicts.”