Minor in Legal Studies
Many students choose to intern in local and state government, including at the Massachusetts State House.
The Legal Studies Program offers students the opportunity to examine broad interdisciplinary questions about the role of law and justice arising in a complex world. Courses are open to students from all majors; the only prerequisites for Legal Studies are the curiosity to ask critical questions and the passion to explore social change.
The Legal Studies Program is an interdepartmental program that considers challenges and perspectives that reach across most academic disciplines at Brandeis. More than 135 students minor in Legal Studies each year, making it one of the most popular majors at Brandeis. Minors must complete six courses, including two core courses, three electives and a hands-on experience.
In the words of the famous Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, "The study of law should be introduced as part of a liberal education, to train and enrich the mind." For almost 50 years, the Legal Studies Program has taken up this challenge. Today, our mission is to advance the understanding of law by:
- developing critical and creative reasoning skills that empower students as agents of change
- analyzing legal issues that arise in diverse fields of study and integrating knowledge of social problems with strategic alternatives for action
- engaging with issues of social justice in the classroom and beyond
Academics and Research
Brandeis students can explore the many facets of law as a social phenomenon — its evolution, function, motivating ideas and effects. The law is an excellent lens through which to learn about and critically examine other disciplines, shedding light on debates central to those disciplines. Legal Studies includes the study of the role of law and legal institutions in society as well as how the law responds to and/or catalyzes change.
Fundamental to Legal Studies are issues of diversity, equity and inclusion because the law is essential to remedying injustice, ensuring equality and protecting the rights of the vulnerable. Recognizing that our multiple social identities benefit the Legal Studies Program and our entire community, the Legal Studies Program is committed to fostering an environment that recognizes and celebrates diversity, equity and inclusion.
We cultivate an inclusive climate that supports all students, staff and faculty regardless of race, gender, sexuality, social class, age, disability, religion or national origin. Our commitment is grounded in Brandeis' mission statement and its ongoing dedication to social justice and is informed by our discipline. Through the study of law, whether in the United States or internationally, we aim to nurture inclusive perspectives. Moreover, we are dedicated to assessing the law as a tool for addressing multisystemic social justice and change.
That Legal Studies minors pursue a broad array of majors strengthens this program because justice requires the specialized knowledge found in sciences, social sciences, humanities and creative arts. Justice also requires close familiarity with local, national and global challenges. Whatever your primary field of study, with knowledge about legal systems and with skills of legal analysis, argument and advocacy, you are ready to find a richer balance between theory and practice.
The Legal Studies program features strong faculty members who encourage their students' curiosity and help them to understand the law from various viewpoints. Faculty awards include:
Professor Daniel Breen: 2017 Louis D. Brandeis Award for Excellence in Teaching - for an individual for his or her outstanding teaching
Professor Richard Gaskins: 2011 Lerman-Neubauer ’69 Prize for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring
Professors Sarah Curi and Alice Noble: The summer Justice Brandeis Semester (JBS) Health, Law and Justice program, an intensive, immersive, interdisciplinary program co-taught by Professors Sarah Curi and Alice Noble, was honored with a Creative and Innovative Award at the 2018 North American Association of Summer Sessions convention in Portland, Oregon.
- Professor Doug Smith: In 2019, Professor Smith was honored with an Innovation and Excellence in Interdisciplinary Legal Studies Teaching from the International Consortium on Undergraduate Law and Justice Programs. His clinical course on "Immigration and Human Rights Advocacy" was recognized as truly innovative, experiential, and with a strong public-facing outreach component in addressing deficiencies in the availability of legal services to marginalized immigrant communities and the organizations that advocate on their behalf.
Professor Melissa Stimell: Academic Program Director of ENACT, The Educational Network for Active Civic Transformation, was awarded a three-year $325,000 grant in 2019 by The Teagle Foundation's Education for American Civic Life Initiative to expand its program to all 50 states and to enhance its digital platform.
Clubs and Study Abroad
Legal studies minors have a wealth of options when it comes to studying abroad. In recent years, students have taken courses across the globe ranging from Humanitarian Law and Armed Conflict, to Labor Law and Workplace Justice, to Introduction to Forensic Psychology and the Law.
Careers and Alumni
Legal Studies offers a springboard to varied careers or further study as leaders, thinkers, and life-long learners well-prepared for a wide range of educational and professional opportunities. Legal Studies minors find and create opportunities at many levels — while at Brandeis and beyond — whether the local (town, city and state) or the national and expanding to the global.
While many Legal Studies minors plan to go to law school (whether right after graduation or after working for some time), many choose to pursue a broad range of other graduate school and career paths. This minor is not intended as "pre-law" preparation for law school because the program’s emphasis is on investigating the law from a variety of perspectives, rather than on training students for the legal profession. If your goal is to attend law school, understand that no single major or minor is the key to gaining admission to law school. Rather, you should choose an academic plan that most interests you and challenges you to become a better student.
Learn more about exploring your graduate and law school options.