Why should I major in History & Legal Studies at Samford University? Will it help me with law school admissions and a legal career? The answer is a definitive “YES!” The Department of History at Samford University has a long tradition of placing graduates in some of the most prestigious law schools in the United States. As a nationally known Alabama lawyer once remarked, “history is the best preparation for law school.” We have a tendency to agree.
The department also offers over $30,000 in scholarships to students interested in pursuing a major in History & Legal Studies.
My time as a history major at Samford University was enriching and invaluable. My professors taught me to think critically, the art of storytelling, the importance of writing in plain English, and the need to be scrupulous in researching a subject—all skills that are crucial for lawyers and judges. To put it plainly, I would not be where I am today without the exemplary education that I received from the History Department of the Howard College of Arts and Sciences. Chief Judge Stephen Louis A. Dillard '92, Court of Appeals of Georgia
Objectives and Curriculum
History & Legal Studies provides first-rate training for a career in law because it prepares individuals to be effective advocates by developing the research and communication skills fundamental to the current adversarial system of law practiced in the United States. By studying history, students gain experience in logical argumentation, in conducting research, in writing, and in analyzing large and diverse bodies of information. These skills are essential prerequisites for a successful career in law school and the practice of law.
A major in History & Legal Studies provides the ideal preparation for a successful career as an attorney. The skills you develop and master will serve you well as you prepare and take the LSAT, while you are in law school, and during your legal career.
Is This Program for Me?
History & Legal Studies majors are intellectually curious and engage in meaningful interactions with the faculty and other students. Our students thrive in a hands-on, problem-solving environment where they become detectives in pursuit of sources and answers.
What Makes Us Different?
The History & Legal Studies major is based firmly on the view that the study of law and justice has a rich tradition in the humanities and that its pursuit can encourage sustained reflection on historical foundations of the American constitutional and legal systems.
Unlike other programs that deemphasize humanity through quantitative methodology, , History & Legal studies focuses on the heart of the human experience by encouraging reflection on its nature and value and by encompassing time-tested methods of inquiry - dialogue, historical and logical analysis, critical interpretation, and scholarly investigation.
The Department of History at Samford University is home to a vibrant and dynamic community of teachers and scholars. This is demonstrated through our productive scholarship, our American, Western, and Global focuses, our commitment to hands-on teaching, and our guided mentoring. We believe that teaching and research only reach distinction when they are integrated by a faculty devoted to excellence in both.
Our faculty members take seriously the role of advisors and mentors. We work closely with students to help them achieve personal, academic, and career goals.
History is a natural major for anyone interested in the legal profession. To use the law intelligently and creatively, a good lawyer must know not only what the law is, but where it came from and why it exists. Lawyers who understand the historical context of developments in the legal system thus have a real advantage.
History & Legal Studies students at Samford can focus on knowledge-based courses in legal history and receive valuable work experience through a legal studies internship.
Our History & Legal Studies graduates have gone on to careers as attorneys, judges, politicians, business executives, and other law-related professions.
The Legal Studies Internship is a cooperative effort between the Department of History and a public or private law-related office. The purpose of the Internship is to give students the opportunity to apply their education to actual work situations. The student intern works under the overall supervision of a licensed attorney affiliated with the Department of History’s Legal Mentoring Program. Our students have interned at several of the most prestigious law firms in the country, at in-house law departments at various business and non-profit organizations, and with local, state, or federal judges.
Accolades, Alumni & Faculty
- Justice Janie Shores (1968)—was the first woman to serve on the Alabama Supreme Court.
- Gilbert C. Dickey (2009) is a clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas. He received his law degree from the University of Chicago.
- Judge Donald E. Blankenship (1978) is a member of the Jefferson County Circuit Court, Civil Division.
- Judge William (“Bill”) M. Bowen, Jr (1969) served as a judge on the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals from 1977 to 1995. He was the presiding judge of that court for eight years. He is a shareholder in the law firm of White Arnold & Dowd, P.C.
- Judge Michael L. Brownfield (1977) is an administrative law judge in the Birmingham ODAR He received his legal education at Emory University School of Law and The University of Alabama School of Law (J.D., LL.M) where he was a member of the Board of Editors and Editor-in-Chief of the Law and Psychology Review.
- Martha A. Campbell (1974) is assistant attorney general for the state of Tennessee.
- Kathy R. Clark (1993) is a partner at Jacks Luciano, P.A. in Cleveland, Mississippi
- Mark T. Davis (1981) is a partner at Jones & Walker in Mississippi.
- Meredith M. Francis (2008) is an associate at Kilpatrick & Townsend in Atlanta. She focuses her practice on technology and business process outsourcing, commercial contracts, licensing, mergers and acquisitions, and securities, as well as other general corporate transactions.
- John C. Earnest (1976) is U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Alabama.
- Britney Stancombe (2009) is an associate at Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis LLC in Nashville.
- Judge Stephen Dillard (1992)—serves as chief judge of the Court of Appeals of Georgia.
- J. Thomas Richie (2004)—is a partner in the Bradley Firm (Birmingham)
- Robert Fowler (1987)—is a partner at Balch & Bingham (Birmingham)
- Christopher L. Shaeffer (2001)—is a shareholder at Hagwood, Adelman & Tipton (Birmingham)
- Kitty Rogers Brown (2001)—is a shareholder White Arnold & Dowd (Birmingham)
- William J. Ward (1949)—is a graduate of Harvard Law School and is of counsel at Balch & Bingham (Birmingham)
Samford’s history professors are among the most published and widely traveled faculty on campus. They are involved in professional associations at the regional, state, national and international levels. Our faculty have received awards/fellowships from the NEH, the National Humanities Center, and other prestigious foundations.
With law schools requiring students to have tremendous research, writing, and critical analysis skills, Samford history majors will learn from some of the top published scholars in the historical fields of law, southern, constitutional, colonial, civil war, civil rights, American, British, Middle Eastern, Asian, Latin American, Russian, intellectual, and other fields.
The Samford History faculty go beyond research and presentations to teach with a passion, demonstrate their faith in Christ, and serve the community.