The law is not only a product of government, but also informed by the social sciences, the arts, and business. Therefore Suffolk’s new undergraduate law major will take an interdisciplinary approach that exposes students to all the nuances inherent in legal understanding.
“You need many perspectives and a collaborative effort if you’re interested in the law – how it works and how it doesn’t work,” said Government Professor Mary Flaherty, director of the Undergraduate Law program.
Interdisciplinary and cross-school collaboration are the hallmarks of the new undergraduate law major, based in the College of Arts & Sciences and taught in collaboration with Suffolk Law School.
“We have opened up our course offerings to look at law with different perspectives, such as philosophy, sociology, government, and business,” said Flaherty.
“Law impacts all facets of life”
While the University has had a long and successful history in providing its undergraduate students with an education in law, Professor Rachael Cobb believes this new direction will “raise the profile” of the program.
“Bringing together all three schools with an interdisciplinary approach to law will deepen students’ understanding of how the law impacts all facets of life,” said Cobb, chair of the Government Department. “It will help to better prepare them for what they want to do after graduation.”
ABA approved program
Suffolk is the only four-year American Bar Association-approved undergraduate program in the Boston area. Program graduates will be prepared for many career choices: as paralegals—with immigration and intellectual property areas currently in high demand—or in corporate offices, government agencies, or other entities working with the law.
“They will have a wide range of options and opportunities to choose from,” said Government Professor Eric Bellone. “They can go to grad school, law school, or right into the workplace.”
Law School resources
Bellone says that Suffolk’s having its own law school is a huge benefit for undergrad law majors.
“Our students are fortunate to have access to our law faculty, law clinics, and law library. They have so many resources to learn about the field,” he said.
Professor Elizabeth Stillman of the Law School’s Academic Support Program is teaching a new Introduction to Law course, which will provide an overview of the American legal system, legal reasoning, and the legal profession.
Understanding and a sense of wonder
“I want students to have a good understanding of how every branch of our government makes law and how lucky we are as a country to have faith in the rule of law,” said Stillman. “I think students are excited about this course, because law is a unique part of our narrative in the United States.
“This class will help students learn about legal issues and then how to problem-solve around those issues. Best of all, they will learn what questions to ask because that is the key.”
Stillman’s class will cover the structure of the federal government and the relationship between state and federal systems, with a focus on the courts and the litigation process. The course also will provide theoretical perspectives on the role of law in society.
At the end of the course, students will submit a position paper and engage in an oral argument on a First Amendment issue.
“What I hope students take away from this class is a sense of wonder,” said Stillman. “I want them to have questions when they leave, but also the resources to answer them.”