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Studying the law: New course opens doors in growing profession

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Riley Mullins | University Relations | 22 May 2014

A new class is being taught at Brigham Young University–Hawaii during the Summer 2014 semester that aligns with one of the fastest growing employment needs around the world, especially in the Pacific Rim. Political Science 390R is an introduction to legal studies that focuses on research and writing. The class introduces students to the many legal structures, including laws, legal documents, and criminal/civilian cases. “It gives students a taste of law, a chance to see what it is like and if we like it,” said Trevor Smith, a Business Management major who is taking the class. Currently, there are 32 students in the class.

BYU (Provo) Law School and ACE Test Prep partnered with BYU–Hawaii to help students prepare to take the LSAT (standardized exam for law school) by providing study materials that would be otherwise inaccessible. Such materials include free LSAT exams, which would normally cost hundreds of dollars outside of the class, and free access to ACE LSAT prep videos. 

The BYU–Hawaii Political Science department developed the POSC 390R class to serve as a pilot for a legal studies certificate they want to offer in the near future. It would be available to students in any major that is interested in a legal career. In 2013, a survey was conducted on campus to help the university map student interest, and of the 107 participants, 97% said that they would want to obtain such a certificate.  

The certificate would give students an advantage in graduate programs and in the work force. The demand for workers with knowledge in law is continuing to grow. According to the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of paralegal and legal assistants will increase 28% by 2018. In the Pacific, there is also a dramatic increase in the demand for jobs in the legal profession. The Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs and the Department of Labor in New Zealand report the same percentage of growth through 2018 as in the U.S. Also, the Australian government reports that entry-level legal positions will increase by 26.6% in the next ten years. 

Through this class and potential certificate, BYU–Hawaii will be preparing many students to meet this world demand. “This class and future certificate open so many doors for our students,” says Jennifer Kajiyama, instructor of the POSC 390R class. “It lets them be the leaders we as a school say they will be, to be genuine gold.”