Featured Alum: Michael McSherry
The value of a degree from St. Thomas: Earning a bachelor's degree in English has given me (1) a good grasp of rhetoric, which is indispensable when you're formulating arguments in writing, or thinking on your feet during oral arguments; (2) proficiency in analytical reading, since it's very important to process a massive amount of information and synthesize it quickly; and (3) an appreciation of what's missing - the ability to understand the relationship between what's been said and what's been left unsaid is important in interactions with clients, opposing counsel, and judges. Writers pick that skill up through the use of perspective in writing and selective omission.
Advice for a Law Career: "Volunteering outside of class was the most important part of my development, and assisted in making my decision to go to law school. Supplement your academic accomplishments with internships. Anything you can use to bolster your resume will be worth it down the road."
Though English and Law do not appear at first to be related careers, many law schools and law firms are looking for applicants with the same skill set that English major have. Good communication (both written and oral), the ability to think critically and creatively, and skills in analysis and persuasion are some of the many attributes that English majors bring to a career in Law.
Law Career Tips from Alumni
"Participate in mock trial, apply for any job that has to do with any kind of legal work or work in the legal field. Utilize the St. Thomas Career Development Center (especially the website) because it's extremely user friendly and a lot of St. Thomas alumni will post there when they have openings, and alumni are a lot more likely to hire other St. Thomas students." – Briana Ludwig, Paralegal
"Try to do some work for a law firm as a college student, so that you can get some field experience and figure out if it's something you're interested in. Given the current state of the economy, and how difficult law school can be, it's critical to make sure that you're in the program for the right reasons. If you're dedicated and passionate about pursuing your J.D. like I was, then you'll be ok. In addition, I would suggest that you reach out to alumni who went through both programs. They (we) can serve as excellent resources by answering your questions and easing any doubts that you may have." – Meagan Tinajero, J.D. Graduate
"Unlike med school, you don't need a specific background or undergraduate degree to go to law school. I would encourage students to major in whatever they find interesting rather than what they think law schools want them to major in." – Janet Olawsky, Attorney
Other Majors and Minors you can pair with an English degree:
Alumni reinforce the importance of taking a wide range of literature and writing courses. In addition, they’ve singled out courses they’ve found particularly useful for their current positions.
ENGL 121- Critical Thinking: Literature and Writing; ENGL 300 – Theory and Practice of Writing; ENGL 304 - Analytical and Persuasive Writing; ENGL 371 - Nineteenth-Century American Literature; ENGL 373 - Contemporary American Literature; ENGL 395 – Issues in Literature and Culture; POLS 104 - American Government in Comparative Perspective; POLS 205 – Intro to American Public Pol. Process; POLS 314 – Constitutional Rights & Liberties; POLS 414 – Seminar in Law/Judicial Policy; SOCI 200 – Intro to Criminal Justice
Pi Sigma Alpha; Volunteers in Action; Study Abroad; Study Abroad Ambassador; Philosophy Club; Pre-Law Society; Foreign Affairs Club; Mock Trial; Amnesty International; Copywriting internship; Hemingway Review
Additional Activities and Training:
Internships at local law firms; File clerk at local law firm