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Course Offers Taste Of Law School

Heights Staff

Published: Thursday, November 15, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

A great number of Boston College students have undoubtedly given much thought to enrolling in law school after graduation. Although law school opens the door to a career that many find challenging and rewarding, choosing to attend law school is an enormous commitment, both in terms of time and finances. Before making such a commitment, undergraduates generally have few opportunities to determine for themselves what law school entails. Next semester, however, BC will be offering undergraduates a chance to experience a typical law school course. Environmental Law and Policy (UN 256) is described in the course catalog as introducing “students to the structure, doctrines, and logic of environmental law and of the American legal system.”
The course, which is offered each spring, is taught by third-year law students. Four of the law students study here at BC Law School, one at Boston University Law School, and one at Harvard University Law School. The law students are overseen and trained by Zygmunt Plater, a BC Law professor. The course offers the students a chance to teach, which many are considering as a career.

Michael Reer, one of the BC law students who will be teaching the course, said that Environmental Law and Policy “will expose undergraduates to the basic principles of the
legal system  …  to court cases, as well as specific laws and regulations.” He emphasized how useful the course is for undergraduates considering law school.

“[Law school] is a more than $100,000 commitment, and many students don’t know what it’s like when they apply,” he said.

Teachers will offer the top students in the course the chance to enroll in a course at BC Law School next fall alongside full time law students. This rare opportunity is appealing to undergraduates certain that they wish to attend law school, and students who have taken the opportunity in the past have generally done well in their law course.

Students who enroll in Environmental Law and Policy will be offered an opportunity to study specific legislation as well as relevant court cases. They will learn about “environmental protection issues of air and water pollution, toxics, parks, wildlife, energy, natural resources, historic preservation, environmental justice, and other timely issues.” Additionally, the course will cover nearly all elements of the legal system, including basic common law lawsuits, constitutional litigation, and ethics and policy issues. According to Reer, “environmental law is so diverse that studying it allows you to understand the guiding legal principles at work.” In terms of workload, Reer says that the course does not aim to weigh students down with too many technical details, but it will still mimic an actual law school course, so as to fully expose students to the realities of law school.

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