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    Hamline University
    Jul 19, 2024  
2023-2024 Undergraduate Bulletin 
2023-2024 Undergraduate Bulletin [Archived Bulletin]

Legal Studies Department

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The Legal Studies Department offers courses and programs for students interested in learning about our legal system and in understanding how law addresses (or fails to address) societal issues. Our courses are particularly relevant to those considering becoming a lawyer or paralegal or working in a heavily regulated field, but are applicable to nearly every future pursuit. In Legal Studies, students learn about the law in the context of Hamline’s liberal arts tradition and long-standing commitment to community involvement aimed at developing excellent critical thinking and communication skills. Courses in the Legal Studies Department are taught by experienced legal studies professors, who are themselves lawyers, or have legal training, together with practicing lawyers who teach as adjunct faculty. Our students complete internships with law firms, government agencies, court systems, corporations, and non-profit organizations. In addition to the major, the Legal Studies Department offers an ABA-approved Paralegal Certificate Program and a Law School Early Admission program.

The Legal Studies Department also provides solid academic preparation and an enriched learning environment for students who wish to attend law school or pursue other graduate legal education. Additionally, the Hamline Plan provides a broad-based education, ensuring that pre-law students develop the reading, analyzing, writing, and speaking skills sought by law schools. Pre-law students can major in any field, and law-related classes and activities foster and develop the students’ critical thinking and other important skills and their interest in law while they prepare for law school. After completing their baccalaureate degree, students who want to practice law must earn a law degree and pass the bar exam.

Program Objectives

Graduates from Hamline University’s Legal Studies Department will be able to:

  • Demonstrate analytical and critical thinking skills appropriate to the study of legal issues and legal problems in the United States.
  • Demonstrate a broad understanding of public and private law across the curriculum including courses that emphasize diverse perspectives.
  • Investigate and explain current legal issues using appropriate legal research methodology and legal writing skills.
  • Communicate effectively in writing and in speaking with diverse audiences in a variety of formal and informational legal settings.

Hamline Legal Studies who also complete the Hamline’s Graduate Paralegal Certificate will be able to:

  • Demonstrate competence in key foundational areas of U.S. law including mastering knowledge of the structure, components, and functioning of the U.S. legal systems.
  • Find, synthesize, and explain the reasoning and rules contained in legal authorities and apply them to a variety of legal situations using rule based reasoning.
  • Master appropriate strategies and technologies to retrieve, use, and manage research materials and digital information effectively and efficiently, including effective legal citation.
  • Understand and fulfill ethical obligations required of professionals who work in legal environments.
  • Apply advanced legal knowledge and skills in legal practice experience.

Academic Program Overview

The Legal Studies Department offers a major, law school early admission (3-3) programs, a graduate paralegal certificate (GPC), and a master in the study of law (MSL).

Legal Studies Majors

The department offers two options for majors: Legal Studies: Law and Society and Legal Studies with the Graduate Paralegal Certificate. These options are designed to suit the needs and interests of pre-law students, students completing their paralegal certificate, and students majoring in other disciplines heavily impacted by law such as criminal justice, business, environmental studies, political science, communications, management, and global studies. Hamline’s undergraduate program provides specific training in law and related professional skills within the context of a broader liberal arts education.

Interdisciplinary Concentrations

Students pursuing any of the legal studies major options may also choose to complete an interdisciplinary concentration in forensic psychology or public policy.

The forensic psychology concentration provides a multidisciplinary approach to the study of crime, motivations for criminal behavior, and the response and use of psychology in the American legal system. A concentration in forensic psychology is open to students majoring in criminology and criminal justice, legal studies, or psychology. In addition to their major, students complete coursework that provides students with the foundational knowledge of our legal system, criminology, and psychology that culminates in a senior seminar, CJFS 5670 Forensic Psychology and the Law.

The public policy concentration educates students about public policy and helps them to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to create innovative, socially responsible solutions to the most critical issues facing society. The program forms an arc, beginning with an introduction to ethical public policy, building skills with methodology coursework, and culminating with a capstone experience in which students engage directly with a public policy issue in a semester-long applied project or internship. Students will acquire an extensive set of skills in policy evaluation and analysis, equipping them to become agents of change to improve the quality of life for people and their communities, at home and abroad. The public policy concentration is open to students majoring in criminology and criminal justice, economics, environmental studies, legal studies, political science, or public health sciences. 

Law School Early Admission (3-3) Programs

Highly motivated and talented students may complete their undergraduate degree and law school in just six years in collaboration with the Mitchell Hamline School of Law. The Legal Studies Department offers two 3-3 program options:

  • Complete one of the major options in the legal studies department
  • Complete a major outside of legal studies along with three core courses

Students interested in either 3-3 program should meet with an academic advisor in the legal studies department early in their undergraduate career to discuss options.

Graduate Paralegal Certificate 

Undergraduate students majoring in legal studies can apply to earn their graduate paralegal certificate simultaneously with their major. A paralegal certificate does not qualify the recipient to provide legal services directly to clients or the public except as permitted by law; it prepares students to work in a law office or other law-related setting under the supervision of attorneys. 

Master in the Study of Law

This program offers the foundational training of an ABA-approved paralegal certificate with specific study in one area of legal concentration (social justice, professional practice management, litigation support, conflict resolution) to graduate students from any profession who are interested in law but don’t want to work as a lawyer. See the MSL section in the Graduate Bulletin for more information.

Note: The legal studies programs do not qualify students to sit for the bar examination or to work as lawyers. Postgraduate study in an American Bar Association-approved law school after graduation from college is required to practice law.


The Legal Studies Department supports students seeking the opportunity to pursue departmental honors projects, which exhibit distinctive scholarship, originality of thought, and a high degree of relevance to a major issue in the discipline. Students interested in pursuing honors should meet with a faculty advisor early in their junior year and consult the department’s and University’s project guidelines.


Legal studies students complete an internship in a law-related environment as part of their capstone experience. Legal studies majors intern with lawyers, corporate law departments, non-profits, the courts, and government agencies. 

Student Activities

Our students compete in Mock Trial, participate in Center for Justice and Law activities, volunteer with the Minnesota Justice Foundation partner organizations, and participate in the Hamline University Law and Justice Society. There are teaching assistant and work study opportunities in the department as well.


Stephen Arnott, associate professor, co-chair. BA (Hons) 1981, University of Tasmania; JD 1994, William Mitchell College of Law. Contracts, evidence, family law, courts and testimony, international human rights law, legal interviewing, legal systems in American society. Professional Associations: Minnesota State Bar Association, American Association for Paralegal Education.

Leondra Hanson, associate professor, co-chair, director of graduate legal education. BA 1995 Concordia College, JD 1999 University of Minnesota. Admitted to the bar in Minnesota 1999, Minnesota Federal District Court 1999 and Montana 2000. Legal systems in American society, legal advocacy, policy, and practice, law in the lives of women, real property. Professional Associations: Minnesota State Bar Association, American Association for Paralegal Education.

Jeanne Kosieradzki, professor. BS 1986, Winona State University; JD 1991, William Mitchell College of Law. Legal ethics, civil litigation and trial practice, legal systems in American society, tort law. Professional Associations: Minnesota Association for Justice, Minnesota State Bar Association.

Jennifer Will, assistant professor. BA 1990, Hope College; JD 1994, University of Michigan Law School. Legal writing and research, employment law, legal advocacy, policy and practice.


Interdisciplinary Concentrations



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