GCU club is more than future lawyers reading briefs
By Mike Kilen
GCU News Bureau
It’s not what you expect to hear at the semester’s first meeting of the Pre-Law Society Club.
The Grand Canyon University student club was launched last year to form a network of budding lawyers who can exchange information, network and help each other pass the vital law school entrance exams, called LSATs.
Kevin Walling didn’t tell 23 club members assembled virtually in a recent meeting to bury their noses in legal briefs. His advice instead: Read novels and magazines.
Reading is the most important tool before taking what Walling calls one of the most difficult admission tests to graduate school, one that relies on reading comprehension, quick thinking and logic.
“Many young people are so distracted with all the electronic devices and entertainment available that they are not picking up books like they used to,” said Walling, Chair of Justice Studies, Government and History in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “The exam comes from the old world of the 20th century when there was no internet, so the 20th-century perception is that you will be reading books and you will understand how to comprehend them.
“I tell the students it’s not an issue that you are any dumber or smarter than any other generation. You just come from a world that you live in right now that is not oriented toward book reading.
“You can’t sit on the couch and eat donuts when you are training for a marathon — you have to get out and exercise. Same thing here. You have to exercise your mind, so your reading comprehension skills improve.”
That kind of information is what drove Dylan Mahoney last year to propose the idea for a club in which students who want to attend law school can gather, share ideas and study.
“It’s also a great way to connect people to one another because not everyone who wants to go into law is in the pre-law undergraduate program,” said Mahoney, this year’s Student Body President. “Many business students want to as well but have no way to find community or support from the government professors who are lawyers.”
Not just Government with an Emphasis in Legal Studies majors go on to law school. In fact, Walling said, there has been an increase in interest among students from both the Honors College and Colangelo College of Business to attend law school.
The club gives them a chance to hear from people who are involved in the field, discuss specific legal subjects and network.
“Sometimes you feel isolated and in a silo, where you are on your own and have no one to discuss your progress or check to see if you are on target. So having other people to work with is beneficial,” Walling said.
The network can benefit them later when they are attorneys, utilizing those professional relationships.
Pre-Law Society Club President Graham Parker said students can really help each other with information on the law school application process. He took the LSAT this summer and can relate his experience taking a timed test that he said was like no other in its emphasis on logic and theory.
“Taking the LSAT was stressful up until I started taking the test,” he said. “Once I started taking the test the world seemed to fall away and it was me and the questions. Once the timer ran out, I felt a sense of peace.”
The score ranges between 120 and 180 and is one of the factors that determine what law school a student can qualify for, such as elite Harvard, or if the student can land a scholarship from a “moderate” institution, Parker said.
“With this club, I get to help new students try to sharpen their skills,” he said.
Parker, a senior in Government with an Emphasis in Legal Studies, decided to become a lawyer in high school when he realized that he could use the law to help people.
At GCU, he said, he has learned to approach legal discussions with logic and not use the words, “I think” or “I feel.”
“You need to know the facts.”
Pre-law courses are designed to give students a sampler of what is taught in law school, not to specifically train for the LSAT.
“That’s why it’s important to have this student club,” Walling said. “I can talk to them all day about law school, but my experiences are not as fresh as hearing from other youth. Students are more interested in hearing from other young people.”
Future guests at the weekly meetings will include GCU graduates who went on to law school, law school professors and legal association representatives. For more information on joining the club, find it on Instagram or email [email protected]
Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.