Samford has an excellent record of sending graduates to the nation’s best law schools, including our own Cumberland School of Law, and our well-designed prelaw opportunities play an important role in that success. Law schools attended by recent graduates include Belmont, Emory, Georgetown, Mississippi College, UCLA, Vanderbilt, William and Mary, and Yale, as well as the universities of Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Miami, and Virginia.
Prelaw opportunities at Samford will help you to make the best choices about applying to and finding the right law school. If you are serious about a career in the law, take advantage of these opportunities. Attend our meetings, join the prelaw society, pursue an internship, take law-related classes, visit with Cumberland faculty and students, and participate in extracurricular activities such as mock trial, debate, and Model United Nations. Moreover, you may also enroll in one of our law-related undergraduate programs, such as the Cumberland Prelaw Scholars Program; the Law, Politics and Society Interdisciplinary major; or the History Major with a Concentration in Legal Studies.
Whichever path is right for you, our programs will help you to prepare for the rigors and challenges of law school.
Dr. Marissa Grayson, Assistant Professor of Political Science, is the university-wide prelaw advisor. For first-year students who have not declared a major, Dr. Grayson serves as the student’s primary advisor, helping freshmen to discern the major that best meets their interests and prepares them for a legal education. Once students have selected a major, Dr. Grayson serves as a mentor, arranging professional development opportunities and guiding pre-law students through their curricular and extracurricular choices. A key component of the mentoring experience is a special prelaw section of FOUN 210 (Vocation Exploration: Law) taught by Dr. Grayson every spring. This one-credit course is targeted for students applying to law school the following fall semester. In addition to covering important material regarding application procedures and preparing for the LSAT, the course helps students to write a personal statement, perfect a résumé, request letters of recommendation, and explore financial aid for law school. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Grayson, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Choosing a Major
Samford follows the recommendation of the American Bar Association and encourages students to choose a rigorous undergraduate major supplemented by courses that develop the core skills and values needed to prepare for a sound legal education. To that end, the university does not recommend any particular major for its prelaw students; instead, we focus on skill development, practical experience, and vocational discernment.
Regardless of major, students should strive to develop the following ABA recommended core skills and values:
- Analytic/Problem-Solving Skills
- Critical Reading
- Writing Skills
- Oral Communication/Listening Abilities
- General Research Skills
- Task Organization/Management Skills
- Public Service and Promotion of Justice
In addition to these fundamental skills and values, all prelaw students should take courses that develop the following subject competencies recommended by the ABA:
- A broad understanding of history, including the various factors (social, political, economic, and cultural) that have influenced the development of our society.
- A fundamental understanding of political thought and of the contemporary American political system.
- Some basic mathematical and financial skills, such as an understanding of basic pre-calculus mathematics and an ability to analyze financial data.
- A basic understanding of human behavior and social interaction.
- An understanding of diverse cultures within and beyond the United States, of international institutions and issues, of world events, and of the increasing interdependence of the nations and communities within our world.
You are encouraged to read more about “Preparing for Law School” on the American Bar Association’s website
3+3 Accelerated Law Degree Program
Samford University and its Cumberland School of Law have created an accelerated law degree program that will enable a Samford student to earn a bachelor of arts or sciences degree and a law degree (JD) in six years rather than the usual seven.
A Samford student who has completed three-fourths of the work for a bachelor's degree may be admitted to Cumberland. After successful completion of the first year of law classes, the student would be awarded a bachelor's degree in his or her undergraduate major.
A student seeking admission to the law school under the accelerated law degree would use the normal law school application process. The student generally should have a Law School Admission test (LSAT) score equal or better than the median LSAT of the law school class that entered in the fall prior to their application, and should have a cumulative Grade Point Average of 3.0 or better.
What if I change my mind?
Students will complete the standard law curriculum of 30 credit hours during the first year of law school, with some work counting toward their undergraduate major and other work as upper level electives. If a student chooses to drop out of Cumberland prior to completion of the first year, any successfully completed law courses would apply toward a bachelor's degree.
Students will be charged law tuition rates for their fourth year at Samford. Samford students who hold four-year tuition scholarships would be able to apply their scholarship toward their fourth year of tuition. Additionally, because students in the law program are classified as graduate students, they would be eligible for greater federal aid and higher loan limits.
Interested in learning more about the 3+3 Accelerated Law Degree Program? Please meet with your major advisor to make sure you can successfully complete the requirements to be eligible for the 3+3 program. You are also encouraged to meet with Dr. Marissa Grayson and contact the Office of Law Admission at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law by phone at 800-888-7213 or by email at email@example.com.
Cumberland Prelaw Scholars Program
This program provides an enriched undergraduate experience that prepares exceptional students for the rigors of law school and the challenges of a career that serves the common good. Cumberland Prelaw Scholars also gain provisional admission to the Cumberland School of Law simultaneously with admission to Samford University, contingent upon meeting specific requirements.
In addition to provisional admission to Cumberland, the program provides enhanced curricular and funding opportunities for all scholars, including a freshman-year learning community, guaranteed participation in our competitive trial advocacy program, exclusive opportunities to meet with Cumberland faculty and students, and generous scholarships and grants to assist with Jan Term and summer course work, as well as law-related internships and research projects.
Provisional Admission to Samford’s Cumberland School of Law
Cumberland Prelaw Scholars gain provisional admission to the Cumberland School of Law simultaneously with admission to Samford University. This provisional admission to law school is contingent upon (1) the eventual submission of a Cumberland School of Law application file, including a letter of recommendation from the director of the Cumberland Prelaw Scholars Program attesting to the student’s successful completion of all program requirements, (2) completion of the Law School Admission Test (with a score equal to or better than the median score of the current first-year law class), (3) an institutional undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher, and (4) an evaluation of candidates’ character and fitness.
Degree Track Options for Cumberland Prelaw Scholars
Cumberland Prelaw Scholars have two options for completing their undergraduate and law degrees:
- 3+3 Accelerated Experience – Eligible students can begin study at the Cumberland School of Law after three years of undergraduate work at Samford and completion of their undergraduate degree requirements. These students receive a Bachelor’s Degree in their chosen major(s) after completion of the first year of law school, and a J.D. degree from Cumberland is awarded after successful completion of law school. The 3+3 accelerated experience is compatible with most, but not all, of the undergraduate majors at Samford, and interested students should consult with their department chairs to confirm their eligibility for this track.
- 4+3 Enriched Experience – Students choosing this option will have a four-year undergraduate experience enriched by their participation in the Cumberland Prelaw Scholars Program. Those who wish to double major, spend a semester abroad, or pursue one of our internships in Washington, D.C. may find this option more flexible. Upon successful completion of their Samford requirements, students receive a Bachelor’s Degree in their chosen major(s), and the Cumberland J.D. degree is awarded after successful completion of law school.
Students who choose not to complete the requirements for the Cumberland Prelaw Scholars Program may still participate in other prelaw activities at Samford and apply for admission to Cumberland. Students who do complete the program, but wish to apply to law schools other than Cumberland, may certainly do so.
Cumberland Prelaw Scholars may pursue any major at Samford, and the program is committed to recruiting and cultivating students from across the disciplines. All Prelaw Scholars receive extensive mentoring from the Director of the Cumberland Prelaw Scholars Program and during their first semester receive a Strengths-Quest analysis, an industry-leading assessment tool that helps students to discern the course of study that best meets their skills and interests.
The following curricular requirements are designed to help students from multiple disciplines to cultivate a deeper understanding of the law as both a profession and a vocation. Please note that these requirements do not add additional hours to any degree programs, nor do they prohibit students from pursuing the major of their choice.
Cumberland Prelaw Scholars Learning Community (completed during the freshman year)
- Fall: Cumberland Prelaw Scholars participate in a first-semester learning community that includes two courses: Cultural Perspectives 101 and Foundations 101. The Foundations 101 course is taught by the program director and designed to introduce Cumberland Prelaw Scholars the field of law and the special opportunities available to them as participants in the program.
- Spring: Scholars continue their learning community experience, taking two core curriculum courses together: Cultural Perspectives 102 and Communication Arts 102.
PLAW 100: Trial Advocacy (completed during either the freshman or sophomore year)
- PLAW 100 – Trial Advocacy: Scholars must take a one-credit mock-trial course during the fall of their freshman or sophomore year. In addition to developing important public speaking and advocacy skills, PLAW 100 introduces students to case theory, the elements of trial preparation, and standards of professional conduct. Students will also meet with members of the Cumberland and Birmingham legal community, and be prepared, if they wish, to compete as members of Samford’s nationally-competitive mock trial team.
Foundations 210 (completed during the spring semester prior to applying for law school, typically the junior year)
- Foundations 210: Offered every spring, this course prepares students to apply to law school, focusing on the development of personal statements, letters of recommendation, and preparation for the LSAT. Cumberland Prelaw Scholars are required to take this course in the spring semester before they apply to law school.
A Law-Related Internship (completed the sophomore or junior year)
- Cumberland Prelaw Scholars must complete a three or four-credit, law-related internship for academic credit during their sophomore or junior year. The internship course must be approved by the Director of the Cumberland Prelaw Scholars Program, and tuition assistance is available for students completing the course during Jan Term or the summer.
Additional Program Requirements
In addition to special curricular opportunities, the Cumberland Prelaw Scholars Program provides students with enrichment experiences designed to cultivate skills that are essential to success in law school. These experiences will be many and varied, and throughout their time in the program, Cumberland Prelaw Scholars must meet the following enrichment requirements.
- Support Cumberland’s Trial Advocacy Program: Each Cumberland Pre-Law Scholar must serve at least once a year as a witness or jury member in support of Cumberland’s nationally-ranked Trial Advocacy Program. Serving as jurors and witnesses for this prestigious program provides opportunities to learn the skills of trial advocacy, courtroom decorum, and trial preparation, as well as to cultivate relationships with Cumberland faculty and students, and to deepen vocational discernment.
- Participate in special events: Cumberland will invite Cumberland Pre-Law Scholars to participate in exclusive events (such as roundtables and guest-speaker forums), and scholars are expected to attend.
- Be an active member of Samford’s Pre-Law Society: Scholars must join the Pre-Law Society and attend at least two society events per year. Opportunities are also available for scholars to serve on the society’s leadership council.
Special Scholarship and Grant Opportunities
In addition to the merit scholarship packages, Cumberland Pre-Law Scholars have access to special scholarships and grants totaling more than $12,000.
- Two $3,000 Jan Term Scholarships: To assist those pursuing the 3+3 Accelerated Track, or to create greater flexibility for those on the traditional 4+3 Track, Cumberland Pre-Law Scholars receive two $3,000 grants applicable to tuition to any four-credit, on-campus Jan Term class during their freshman or sophomore year.
- $2,000 Scholarship for a Summer Research Project: Pre-Law Scholars may propose a self-designed, law-related summer research project for academic credit, with $2,000 applicable to tuition costs. All projects must be approved by the director of the Pre-Law Scholars program, and scholars must work under the direction of a faculty mentor in either their undergraduate college or the Cumberland School of Law. As a condition of the grant, scholars will be required to present their research in a public forum to their peers, and/or submit that research to an undergraduate law journal.
- $1,500 Scholarship for Summer Internships: All Pre-Law Scholars must complete a law-related internship during their sophomore or junior year. Although most scholars will complete these internships as part of their fall or spring coursework, Pre-Law Scholars may also enroll in an academic internship course at Samford during the summer term and receive a $1,500 grant applicable to tuition.
- $1,000 Scholarship for Summer Travel Course: Every other summer, a special section of POLS 450: Law and the World is offered for two-weeks in Washington, D.C., providing Cumberland Pre-Law Scholars with an exceptional opportunity to study the law in a national and global context. Cumberland Pre-Law Scholars receive a $1,000 scholarship applicable to summer tuition.
- A $1,000-$2,000 Need-based Grant for a Washington D.C. Internship: Cumberland Pre-Law Scholars are eligible for a need-based grant to support a semester-long, law-related internship at The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars in Washington, D.C (our partner for the Samford in D.C. Program).
For More Information
If you have questions about the program, please contact Dr. Marissa Grayson, Director of the Pre-Law Scholars Program, at 205-726-2163 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Law, Politics & Society Interdisciplinary Major
Law, Politics and Society, an interdisciplinary major offered in cooperation with schools and departments from across the university, combines knowledge from the worlds of law, politics, and a wide variety of other areas. It focuses on the role of law in local, national, and international society, and is intended for students who are interested in studying the law and pursuing a career in law-related fields.
History major with a Concentration in Legal Studies
In addition to the general history major, a concentration in legal studies is available. In partnership with the Cumberland School of Law, this concentration will help students develop the important skills and values that will provide a sound foundation for a legal education and for subsequent careers. A history major with a concentration in legal studies will also focus on the knowledge that would maximize a student’s ability to benefit from a legal education. These areas of humanities-based study, as recommended by the American Bar Association (ABA), include: A broad understanding of history, a fundamental understanding of politics, a basic understanding of human behavior and social interaction, and an understanding of diverse cultures within and beyond the United States, of international institutions and issues, of world events, and of the increasing interdependence of the nations and communities within our world. Students will work with an advisor in the Department of History to select general education, major courses, and electives which will prepare them to benefit fully from a challenging legal education. Students are required to complete a Legal Studies Internship (HIST 471) and to participate in the Department of History’s Legal Mentoring Program. In particular, history students preparing to participate in the 3+3 program with Cumberland School of Law are strongly encouraged to concentrate in legal studies.
Samford Mock Trial
As a member of the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA), the Samford Mock Trial Team competes in national and regional trial simulations against teams from other universities. Mock trial gives students the opportunity to develop critical thinking and public speaking skills, as well as knowledge of legal practices and procedures. Competitors also cultivate valuable advocacy skills, such as constructing opening and closing arguments, employing rules of evidence, and preparing witnesses for direct and cross examinations. The Cumberland School of Law is home to one of the nation’s premiere Trial Advocacy programs, and the pre-law Mock Trial Team, which is coached by two mock trial veterans who are practicing attorneys, seeks to uphold this tradition of excellence.
As a mock trial competitor, I learned how to bring together details from different sources to create a cohesive story and to think critically about the importance of different facts, a skill invaluable in legal and political work. The development of my public speaking skills has made me more confident in the classroom and in interviews.
--Amanda Gargus, Georgetown Law School, Samford Graduate 2013
Interested in joining Samford’s Mock Trial Team? Contact Pre-Law Advisor and Mock Trial Faculty Advisor, Dr. Marissa Grayson
LSAT and Prep Courses
Samford University does not offer LSAT prep courses but Dr. Grayson can help advise students about opportunities to prepare for the LSAT. Below are a list of resources students may find helpful:
- Blueprint LSAT Prep - Blueprint provides online and LSAT prep courses.
- Kaplan Test Prep - The Kaplan Home Page provides aid for taking the LSAT and other graduate school options.
- Law School Admission Council - Register here to get information about the LSAT, prep tools, free practice tests, and other relevant information for prospective students.
- Maynard Cooper & Gale Minority Scholars LSAT Prep Course - The law firm offers a comprehensive LSAT prep course for highly-motivated undergraduate minority students. Application is typically available in the winter and due in early spring. [link broken as of 11/30/2020]
- Princeton - This site includes Princeton Review material designed to aid in studying for the LSAT.
- TestMasters LSAT Prep - TestMasters provides online and live LSAT prep courses.
The objective of the Samford Pre-law Society is to create a community of students and faculty interested in the legal profession by promoting an awareness of the law and the legal process. The Society will strive to help students prepare for entrance into a formal legal education by providing opportunities for academic advancement while fostering social growth. In order to assist the development of exceptional attorneys, the Samford Pre-law Society will encourage fellowship among students, faculty, and local members of the legal profession.