UM pre-law program boasts 91% placement rate
(UM News Service) The road to law school is more often a winding road than superhighway – with the occasional pothole thrown in along the way.
For University of Montana law student Alyssa Campbell, the path to becoming a lawyer started with an overheated car on a backroad near Canyon Ferry. The mechanic she called for help drove the car in this broken state and blew the engine. This led to another bumpy road: small claims court.
Despite her lack of legal training, Campbell meticulously researched case law and presented a compelling argument. Impressed, the judge assumed she was a law student.
“I said no, and he said, ‘Well, you should be,’ and that moment changed everything,” said Campbell, who bounced from wildlife biology to pre-pharmacy as an undergrad. “I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life.”
Campbell was a junior when she was inspired by this courtroom encounter, putting her on the road to UM’s Pre-Law Program. The hands-on attention given to students in the program has led to an impressive placement rate, with 91% of its students successfully entering law schools, surpassing the national average of 69%.
Many enroll in UM’s Alexander Blewett III School of Law, while some enroll in other prestigious law schools around the country.
She was hooked after attending a meet-and-greet put on by Dr. Soazig Le Bihan, director of UM’s Pre-Law Program.
“Soazig and I talked about needing to raise my GPA to get into Montana’s law school. After that, it was straight As for me,” Campbell said. “At that point I became focused and started applying myself.”
UM's pre-law program offers advice on the classes and experiential learning opportunities students should pursue to cultivate the skills necessary for legal thinking and the Law School Admission Test. The pre-law program is open to all majors.
“While we have our fair share of political science majors enrolling in pre-law,” Le Bihan said, “we’ve also had some come from forestry, health, math and music.
“Many times, these students plan to combine their original majors with law to eventually practice in the fields they care about, she added. “For example, an environmental studies major may work toward a career in environmental law.”
Campbell now works as an attorney focusing on civil litigation at Milodragovich, Dale & Steinbrenner PC in Missoula and has recently accepted a shareholder offer.
“Pre-law made going to law school seem more realistic,” said Campbell. “It’s not just a pipe dream, you can do it.”