Legal Studies

Academic Year: 2009 – 2010

The Legal Studies Department offers both a graduate (M.A.) and undergraduate (B.A.) in legal studies. The department emphasizes law in a societal context within a broad-based liberal arts curriculum. The department seeks to develop the student’s knowledge and understanding of the legal system and to enhance skills in analytical thinking, research, and writing. The department also seeks to develop professional and scholarly skills that graduates will need in law-related careers or graduate-level studies.

Knowledge of the law and legal system is important for individuals in a wide array of careers including social workers, lobbyists, union representatives, personnel administrators, law enforcement officials, claims adjusters, librarians, probation officers, corrections personnel, human resource managers, and governmental agency and court administrators. Many professionals, especially in the public sector, need a comprehensive understanding of what the legal system is, how it works, how it interrelates with social change, and how it assists people in asserting their rights.

The objectives of the legal studies department are 1) to develop analytical skills necessary to appreciate law as a social phenomenon, 2) to develop an understanding of how law is created, applied, interpreted, and changed, 3) to impart knowledge of substantive areas of the law, 4) to provide clinical or direct working experience in legal environments, 5) to perfect student skills in legal research, writing, and analysis, and 6) to provide an interdisciplinary liberal arts education.

Freshmen and sophomores interested in learning more about legal studies or preparing to designate legal studies as an academic major should contact the Chair of Legal Studies.

For advice on what kinds of classes provide good preparation for law school or information about good classes for pre-law preparation, whether or not a legal studies major, students should contact the Pre-Law Center.

Faculty advisors help students plan their overall course of undergraduate or graduate study. The advisor provides advice and assists the student if any difficulties arise during his or her UIS career. Advisors are required to sign off on a variety of forms, including applications for clinical or thesis studies. Most advisors require that students meet with them before approval for a project is given.

A student may change his or her advisor by filing a form for this purpose, available through the department office. Students should talk to their faculty advisors at least once a semester.

A faculty advisor is assigned to each student after the student has been fully admitted to the LES Department. Students without an official advisor, including less-than-fully admitted graduate students, should refer to the department’s chair for advising until a permanent advisor is assigned.


Entrance Requirements
The student seeking admission to the Legal Studies B.A. degree must meet all campus requirements for undergraduate admission. Information about these requirements is available from the Office of Admissions. The department requires no additional application for undergraduate admission. Students enter the department at the junior level and are expected to have successfully completed (with a grade of C or better) at least six semester hours of English composition, six semester hours of humanities, and three hours of statistics. Students not meeting these requirements must take a 100- or 200-level writing or humanities course during their first semester at UIS.

The department requires that all undergraduate majors complete a course in American government and a course in the American legal system as freshmen or sophomores before taking LES 303 American Law: The Basics. LES 201 Introduction to the American Political System, offered both fall and spring semester, and LES 202 Introduction to the American Legal System, offered in the spring semester, fulfill these requirements. These two courses, or similar courses, ensure that all students beginning legal studies have a good working idea of how the government and the courts work and what actual legal processes entail. Further, all Legal Studies majors should have an interest in some aspect of the law and legal profession, and be prepared to engage in a rigorous educational experience.

Major Requirements

The Legal Studies Department offers two undergraduate major concentrations: the Legal Assistant Concentration and the General Legal Studies Concentration.

The Legal Assistant Concentration focuses on the knowledge and skills that a student will need to work as a legal assistant/paralegal with emphasis on public law settings. The General Legal Studies Concentration, which offers a broader liberal-arts-focused approach to legal studies, is appropriate for students interested in law or graduate school or in governmental or corporate positions for which an understanding of legal institutions and processes would be helpful.

Both concentrations offer required and elective courses. Required courses give students the opportunity to acquire essential legal background and to develop needed skills. Elective courses allow students to focus their programs of study in a specific area. All LES majors must take the general core courses listed below. In addition, students taking the Legal Assistant Concentration must take the required legal assistant courses, and students in the General Legal Studies Concentration must take the required general legal courses. Unless the student’s advisor recommends otherwise, LES 303 and LES 401 should be taken in the first semester, junior year and LES 307 in the second semester, junior year. LES 307 is designated as the UIS communications competency course. See below.

Students should be aware that required courses are not offered every semester. Students are strongly advised to consult with their academic advisors or the department chair before registering for the first time. To ensure that all course work is properly integrated, students are encouraged to work out plans for their academic careers in conjunction with their LES advisors.

LES preparatory courses
LES 201 Introduction to the American Political System 3 Hrs.
LES 202 Introduction to the American Legal System 3 Hrs.

Core courses required of all undergraduate students (17 Hrs.)
LES 303 American Law: The Basics 3 Hrs.
LES 401 Legal Research and Citation 4 Hrs.
LES 307 Law and Society 3 Hrs.
LES 415 American Constitution and Constitutional Law
or LES 416 American Constitution and Civil Liberties 4 Hrs.
and the course designated as the closing seminar 3 Hrs.

Legal Assistant Concentration additions to core
LES 402 Legal Writing and Analysis 3 Hrs.
LES 403 Practice Skills: Illinois Civil Procedure for Legal Assistants 3 Hrs.
Three Legal Studies electives 9 Hrs.

General Legal Studies Concentration additions to core
LES 472 Research Methods for Legal Studies 3 Hrs.

Two of:
LES 404 Law and Inequality, LES 352 History of American Law,
LES 354 Philosophy of Law, or LES 380 Topics in Comparative Law 6 Hrs.

Two Legal Studies electives 6 Hrs.

Students should consult with advisors in the major for specific guidance regarding completion of general education requirements.

The Legal Studies B.A. degree requires each student to take a minimum of three hours of Applied Study Term internship for their ECCE Engagement Experience. Students may take six hours of Applied Study Term , but three hours will be credited as an LES elective. Double majors may have different requirements and should check with their LES and other major advisors.

When necessary and advisable, students may waive the program’s three-hour internship requirement through EXL and substitute another ECCE course. Student Petitions for requesting waivers are available online through the Office of Records and Registration.

Communication Requirement
UIS requires that students demonstrate proficiency in writing skills before attaining a degree. Each student’s writing skills are initially assessed by instructors in legal studies courses. Students who are identified as having writing difficulties are required to develop a plan of improvement with their advisors.

Certification of communication skills for LES majors occurs in LES 307 Law and Society. Students are required to pass the writing portion of the course with a grade of C or better to meet this campus requirement. Students who do not demonstrate adequate communication skills will receive an incomplete in LES 307 until sufficient skills are developed. The LES Department reserves the option of requiring the student to enroll in a formal remedial writing program.

Closure Requirement
Students must complete a minimum of 48 upper-division hours and fulfill all department and general education requirements to graduate. Each student must fill out a campus graduation contract. It must be approved by the required personnel no later than eight weeks after the start of his or her final semester. Students are allowed to submit their contracts for early consideration the semester before their final term.

Graduation Contracts are available on the Office of Records and Registration website.

Legal Assistant Certificates
After graduation, students completing the Legal Assistant Concentration as part of their bachelor’s degree will receive certificates if the student has received a B or better in LES 401 Legal Research and Citation, LES 402 Legal Writing and Analysis, and LES 403 Practice Skills: Illinois Civil Procedure for Legal Assistants and otherwise maintained at least a 2.50 GPA. The certificate reflects that they have successfully completed a comprehensive bachelor’s degree legal assistant training program. Legal assistants are skilled professionals able to perform tasks and services under the supervision of a licensed attorney.


The M.A. in Legal Studies is designed to present the master’s candidate with a course of study in public law emphasizing law as a social phenomenon as well as a technical body of rules. It is a rigorous course of study, designed to develop the candidate’s critical understanding of the legal system. It emphasizes analytical and conceptual thinking, legal research and writing, substantive areas of the law, ethical and public interest concerns, public advocacy skills, and the role of law in society.

The objectives for the M.A. graduate are 1) to obtain paralegal skills for entry and advancement in law-related careers, 2) to develop advanced research and writing skills, 3) to develop a focus to their educational effort that is connected to their career goals and professional development, and 4) to develop analytical and advocacy skills. The LES M.A. program seeks to provide opportunities for working in the legal field in a way that will advance student careers grounded in a solid understanding of the law within the context of an interdisciplinary liberal arts perspective.

Online Master’s Program
Like the Legal Studies offered on campus, the online program allows students to gain professional skills, as well as to study legal theory and the role of law in American society. It provides students with a broad general understanding of the legal system, how it works, and how it interrelates with societal changes.

Entrance Requirements
The department requires students to apply separately for admission both to UIS and to the M.A. program. Application forms and information on LES Department admission requirements may be obtained from the LES office. The forms are available from the Office of Admissions or on the UIS website.

The department expects that students will come from a variety of educational experiences and backgrounds. Though no particular undergraduate major is required, students should have completed at least one undergraduate course in American government, judicial process, or the equivalent. This is a prerequisite for admission to the Legal Studies M.A. Students who do not have this background should take LES 202 Introduction to the American Legal System or an approved equivalent course. LES 202 does not qualify for graduate credit.

The number of hours required by the LES M.A. depends on the students’ educational background and achievements when they begin the LES Program. If the student has this academic background, the M.A. is a 36-hour course of study. If the student does not have this academic background, he or she must take LES 401 and either LES 402 or LES 472 during the first year of academic study, making the degree a 43 credit-hour course of study.

Online applicants must have a GPA of 3.00 or better and be able to demonstrate good to excellent written communication skills. Students for whom English is not their native language must take the TOEFL exam and receive a score of at least 600 on the paper-based exam, 100 on the Internet-based exam, or 250 on the computer-based exam. The application deadline is April 15.

Required LES Preliminary Courses
All students who have not completed LES 401 and LES 402 or LES 472, or equivalents, should take LES 401 along with LES 501 during their first semester and LES 402 or LES 472 in the second semester. Students who wish to receive credit for an equivalent course, for which they received a grade of B or better, and/or other competency in this area must apply for a waiver. (See section on waivers below.) The LES waiver committee will decide if a course taken at another institution is equivalent to LES course(s). Requests for credit should be submitted to the waiver committee on the Student Petition available on the Office of Records and Registration website.

A maximum of four hours of less than B but at least a C are allowed in LES courses. Students must maintain a B or higher average within the program and must earn a B or better in all LES core courses. To encourage students in choosing electives, an additional four hours of less than B but at least a C are permitted in courses taken outside the program if an overall B average is maintained. Clinical education courses, tutorials, and theses, are graded on a CR/NC basis.

Degree Requirements
Pre-registration advising is important because many legal studies courses must be taken sequentially and not every course is offered every semester. Course requirements and sequences are available on the LES website:

LES 202 Introduction to the American Legal System
or approved equivalent course 3 Hrs.

Required preliminary courses
(waived for students who have already completed these courses or their approved equivalents)
LES 401 Legal Research and Citation(1st semester) 4 Hrs.
LES 402 Legal Writing and Analysis (2nd semester)
or LES 472 Research Methods for Legal Studies 3 Hrs.

Core Courses
LES 501 Introduction to Graduate Legal Studies (fall, 1st year) 4 Hrs.
LES 554 Clinical Education and/or substantive law electives 1-8 Hrs.
LES 587 Public Advocacy (3rd semester) 4 Hrs.
LES 504 Graduate Seminar (4 Hours)
or LES 590 Thesis (last semester; 1-8 Hrs.
LES substantive law course (as approved by faculty advisor) 4 Hrs.

Electives (with approval of advisor) 8 Hrs.

Clinical Education
The clinical education experience provides students with skills necessary to be successful in a legal environment. Participation in clinical education is recommended. Master’s candidates may earn up to eight hours of clinical education credits.

Government agencies, the Illinois Supreme Court, and other organizations sponsor interns, both paid and unpaid. Placement options include courts, administrative agencies, state and federal attorneys’ offices, legal aid offices, private law firms, and other public interest groups. Graduate Public Service Internships, graduate assistantships, and legislative internships may count as clinical education if these placements meet the established guidelines. Students working full time or otherwise unable to work at a clinical position may want to work with their advisors to develop a research project or on-the-job alternative that emphasizes the practical aspects of their education.

Students must fulfill all 36 hours of required core courses and, if necessary, the eight hours of preliminary courses. If it is impossible for a student to take a required core course, or if a student has already taken one of the core courses or its equivalent as an undergraduate at another institution and wants to waive the requirement, the student must still complete the credit hours in some other course (except for waivers of LES 401, LES 402 or LES 472).

Closure Requirements
A master’s thesis or completion of LES 504 Graduate Seminar (including the course project) is required of all master’s degree candidates as a closure exercise. Students selecting the thesis option may enroll in up to eight hours’ credit in the master’s thesis course (LES 590). They may accrue that total in increments.

Campus policy requires that students be enrolled in at least one semester hour of master’s closure credit for each semester after they have begun their master’s closure exercise until that exercise is completed. For LES students choosing the thesis option, this requirement means that if the thesis is not completed during the initial four hours of enrollment in LES 590 Thesis, students must register for LES 590 for one credit hour in each subsequent semester until eight hours are accumulated or the thesis is completed. If the thesis is still not completed by the time eight hours of continuous enrollment in LES 590 have been accumulated, students must register for LES 598 (zero credit hours, one billable hour) each semester until the thesis is completed. Likewise, if students choosing to take the graduate seminar fail to complete the required course work/project during the initial four hours, they must enroll in LES 597 (zero credit hours, one billable hour) each semester until the course work/project is complete. (Department policy allows students until the end of the first week of classes in the subsequent semester to complete closure requirements before they are required to re-enroll in the closure course.)


Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts


Deborah Anthony, Suzanne Borland, Kathryn Eisenhart, Kim Furumoto, Jason Pierceson
Emeritus Faculty: Anne Draznin, Nancy Ford, Dennis Fox, Larry Golden, William Jordan, Frank Kopecky
Adjunct Faculty: Saul Morse, John Squibb


Phone: 217/206-6535