UT’s government department should increase number of law-related classes offered

Logan Green, Columnist

For students considering law school or a legal career, the government department is the most relevant and fitting field for taking classes. The department offers courses in numerous subject matters – such as international politics, public policy, political theory and, for students interested in a law degree, public law.

While law is a focus area for some classes in the government department, the number of courses offered in this field is limited. Many students who enroll in government classes are pre-law or have an overall interest in the field. The limited number of law related classes, in number and scope, does not adequately meet the learning needs of students. 

For instance, only 3 of the more than 50 upper division government classes offered in fall 2022 concentrate on law: Law of Politics, Constitutional Interpretation and Comparative Legal Systems. It is clear courses in this field are minimal compared to other government fields. The government department should expand the quantity and themes of law related classes.

Gloria Arizmendiz, a government and international relations and global studies junior who is considering law school, feels that there should be more law-related government classes in order to increase exposure to the subject of law, as well as its different practice areas.

“The only law exposure that I’ve gotten has been through organizations, but not specifically through the government classes that I’ve taken,” Arizmendiz said. 

Having such a low number of law-related courses not only limits the legal exposure students have access to, but also makes the registration process for these classes more difficult. This process makes some classes fill up quickly, leaving other students without certain classes they want or need to take.

Although registering for law related classes can be difficult, especially given the limited number of classes, many other courses in the government department touch on legal themes.

“(Government classes) that don’t have ‘law’ or ‘legal’ in the title often include legal themes,” said Government Department Chair Daniel Brinks.

While this is true, political science is a subject with much overlap. Oftentimes, most government classes will discuss themes such as the legislative process, public policy or political ideologies, despite what the main focus of the class is.

Ultimately, the fact that legal themes may show up in government classes is not an excuse to limit the law-related classes that are offered. Students, especially those considering law school, deserve a larger selection of classes that specifically focus on law.

“The government department is open to hiring more faculty in public law, and those faculty would teach law related courses,” Brinks said. “But I’m not sure that we’re not meeting the demand that there is already.”

Many government majors, however, are interested in law school. This increase in classes would offer more opportunities for academic exploration in law for all students interested.

Moving forward, the government department should double the amount of classes related to law and the various practice areas of law.

Creating more law-related courses would increase accessibility to these classes, especially during registration when barriers can occur. With more of these classes, students, especially those pursuing pre-law, would have increased exposure to the subject, as well as a better understanding of their interests, all before graduating and potentially applying to law school.

Green is a government and social work sophomore from Cedar Park, Texas.