KINGSTON, R.I. -- October 27, 2003 -- University of Rhode Island students contemplating a career in law now have a "home" in Washburn Hall, located on the quadrangle of URIs Kingston Campus.
Thanks to a number of generous alumni and friends of the University who donated more than $125,000, a section of the second floor of Washburn has been transformed into an inviting area where any future Perry Mason would be pleased to hang his hat.
The "home" creates a centralized place for students who are interested in law school but come from numerous majors across the campus. It provides space for these pre-law students to meet informally with faculty and alumni who are practicing attorneys or judges.
The home features a bright classroom with new windows, lights, walls, and furniture designed for interactive teaching. Across the hall, a foyer with a kitchen area and a computer with law databases serves as an entry to a larger, comfortable den-like room. The room has parquet floor, a warm, leather coach, an oaken conference table, and floor-to-ceiling bookcases that hold information about law schools, law firms, and legal decisions.
"The Pre-Law Home consolidates and formalizes what we have been doing informally," said Maureen Moakley, chair of URIs Political Science Department. "Alumni have been astonishingly supportive and responsive. They are committed to the law and to URI."
"Many students think they would like to be lawyers, but their perception of a law career can differ greatly from the reality of law practice," said Lawrence Rothstein, a professor of political science and an attorney. Rothstein coordinates URIs pre-law advising team of three to four advisors. Typically, there are about 140 students at URI contemplating going to law school. Rothstein said the advisors also serve URI alumni who are thinking of changing careers.
On average, three to four events for pre-law students are held each year. In the fall, Rothstein brings recruiters to campus from regional law schools. During the winter, a mock law school class is held, taught by a visiting law professor. In early spring, students who have been through the law school process give a debriefing to students facing the process.
In the past, Rothstein has shown the film "The Paper Chase" to first year students followed by a panel of judges and attorneys, often URI alumni, who then comment on how the Hollywood version of law class compares to their own experiences.
URI alumnus Bruce Kleinman, class of 1975, and his wife Ava were the lead donors of the project. "We felt the Pre-Law Home was an opportunity to fill a void," said Kleinman, an attorney with the Short Hills, N.J. office of Edwards and Angell. "The home provides a means for students to get a better understanding of the career on which they are embarking."
Anyone interested knowing more about the Pre-Law Home should contact Tom Zorabedian, senior development officer for the College of Arts and Sciences, 401-874-2853 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those interested in finding out more about URIs pre-law advising programs or who wish to be added to URIs Pre-Law e-mail discussion list, should contact Rothstein at 401-874-2730 or e-mail him at email@example.com.