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Expanded Pre-Law Classes

Our pre-law classes are often 20-50-person, hands-on, seminar-style classes that expose students to legal writing (e.g. crafting memos), reasoning (e.g. synthesizing and digesting case law), and oral advocacy (e.g. mock arguments). These courses also integrate attorneys into the classroom as guest lecturers, coaches, and mentors.

Course Offerings:

  • POLI 104A. The Supreme Court and the Constitution: An introduction to the study of the Supreme Court and constitutional doctrine. Topics will include the nature of judicial review, federalism, race, and equal protection. The relation of judicial and legislative power will also be examined.

  • POLI 104B. Civil Liberties-Fundamental Rights: This course will examine issues of civil liberties from both legal and political perspectives. Topics will include the First Amendment rights of speech, press, assembly, and religion; other "fundamental" rights, such as the right to privacy; and some issues in equal protection. Conflicts between governmental powers and individual rights will be examined.

  • POLI 104C. Civil Liberties-The Rights of Accused and Minorities: Examines the legal issues surrounding the rights of "marginal" groups such as aliens, illegal immigrants, and the mentally ill. Also includes a discussion of the nature of discrimination in American society.

  • POLI 104D. Judicial Politics: This is an introduction to the study of law and courts as political institutions and judges as political actors, including the role of the judiciary in our constitutional system and decision making both within the Supreme Court and within the judicial hierarchy.

  • POLI 104E. Environmental Law and Policy: The course is an introduction to U.S. environmental law at the federal level. It emphasizes issues and current controversies involving natural resources, such as wilderness, biodiversity, water, and climate change.

  • POLI 104F. Seminar in Constitutional Law: This seminar will provide an intensive examination of a major issue in constitutional law, with topics varying from year to year. Recent topics have included equal protection law and the rights of civilians in wartime. Students will be required to do legal research on a topic, write a legal brief, and argue a case to the seminar. Prerequisites: POLI 104A/B; department stamp.

  • POLI 104G. Election Law: A detailed analysis of the legislative and judicial history of election related topics including registration laws, election administration, candidate requirements, voting rights, party organizational rules, nomination procedures, redistricting, and campaign finance.

  • POLI 104I. Law and Politics-Courts and Political Controversy: This course will examine the role of the courts in dealing with issues of great political controversy, with attention to the rights of speech and assembly during wartime, questions of internal security, and the expression of controversial views on race and religion. The conflict between opposing Supreme Court doctrines on these issues will be explored in the context of the case studies drawn from different historical periods.

  • POLI 104J. Introduction to Legal Reasoning: the building-blocks of legal writing and reasoning. Students learn basic legal analysis, making and supporting a position, as well as legal skills like crafting intra-office memos. For the final, students demonstrate the rudiments of legal research by presenting contemporary legal reasoning on key issues. Prerequisite: POLI 104A or 104B.

  • POLI 104K. Legal Argument Formulation: Students are given an appellate court case and taught the legal analysis skills necessary to succeed in court. Legal professionals and alumni coach students in the classroom, helping them write briefs and to prepare for their final: a simulated oral argument where they present in front of a panel of mock judges. Prerequisite: POLI 104J.

  • POLI 104L. Positive Political Theory of Law: We will discuss modern theories of the origins of law and legal behavior.

  • POLI 104M. Law and Sex: Survey course which will review numerous ways in which the law regulates and impacts sexuality and orientation. The course will focus on constitutional law in the areas of privacy, free speech, and association, the regulation of sexual conduct under criminal law, pornography, procreation, reproductive rights, and the regulation of family status.

  • POLI 104N. Race and Law: Has the law helped end or contributed to racism in the United States?  This course will explore the law of Slavery, Segregation, and Immigration, and studying Equal Protection, Affirmative Action, and Criminal Justice (including hate crimes and First Amendment implications).

  • POLI 104P. Science, Technology and the Law: Science and technology advance rapidly. The law is slow to catch-up. Retired judge, Michael Orfield ’72, presents various case studies (e.g. driverless cars) and students lead arguments in favor and against.

Pre-Law Board:

Board members are attorneys currently enrolled in the doctoral program in political science. Members of the board bring broad and deep experience as law students and attorneys. They are available for individual appointments to discuss careers in law, selection of appropriate law schools, the application and admissions processes, and other concerns that you may have about this career path. Please contact each directly to arrange an appointment.

Lee Dionne

Lee graduated from Northwestern Law in 2009, where he served for two years as an editor on the Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology.  As a business lawyer (e.g., contracts, mergers & acquisitions and securities), Lee has experience both in large law firm and private practice settings. Currently, Lee is building on his academic interest in U.S. legal and political institutions as a UCSD graduate student in American politics.

Michael "Patrick" Hulme

Patrick graduated from the UCLA School of Law in 2017, where he served as an articles editor for the Journal of International Law & Foreign Affairs. During law school, he interned for the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as for the international law division of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. He also has some private practice experience in business and real estate law through working for a few law firms located here in San Diego. Currently, Patrick is building on his academic interest in international law as a UCSD graduate student in international relations.

John Porten

John graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2006. John spent five years in private practice focusing on corporate ownership disputes and commercial litigation, and continues to serve as a legal advisor in non-profit organizations, including a project administered by the American Cancer Society.

Matthew Draper

Matthew graduated from William and Mary Law School in 2009, specializing in intellectual property, elections and international trade law. During law school, he worked as a research assistant revising the esteemed legal treatise Nimmer on Copyright, and studied abroad in Madrid at a program focusing on European Union commercial jurisprudence. After law school Matthew was recruited into management by a marketing and public relations agency and spent five years as COO, drawing on his legal training to advise on contract formation, trademark registration and intellectual property licensing. His current research interests include democratic theory, corruption and political economy.

Political Science - Public Law Major

As one of the Department's more popular majors, these courses allow students in the major to gain relevant academic knowledge and practical skills associated with the legal profession well before they enroll in a law program. Learn more about the major and it's requirements here.

Additional Resources

Law and Society Minor

The Law and Society minor is administered by Warren College. The Law and Society minor offers students the opportunity to examine the role of the legal system in society. Advising questions about this minor should be directed to Warren College.  

Pre-Law Advising via the UCSD Career Center

The primary office for pre-law advising and resources is the Career Services Center. Visit the UCSD Career Services Pre-Law page for informatioen about the legal profession and applying to law school. While any Career Advisor is happy to speak to students about law school, the primary pre-law advisor is Nichola Retzius, who can be reached at

Kappa Alpha Pi

Kappa Alpha Pi at the University of California, San Diego (formerly known as UCSD Phi Alpha Delta) is a co-ed pre-law fraternity. More information can be founda at