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Pre-law Program Accelerates Path to Bachelor’s and Law Degrees

Two young men sitting at a desk.

With higher education value and return on investment top of mind when exploring college, increasing numbers of students are considering combination undergrad/grad programs like Immaculata University’s 3+3 pre-law program. A joint offering with Widener University Delaware Law School, the career-focused program enables students to earn an accelerated bachelor’s degree and a Juris Doctor degree in only six years instead of the typical seven thereby saving time, reducing overall tuition expenses, and providing earlier access to law careers.

First-year Delaware Law School student Alexandra Bethman, who earned a bachelor of science in political science and international relations during her three years at Immaculata, is one of the first students to take advantage of the 3+3 program. She completed a specific pre-law curriculum that developed skills in critical thinking and public speaking, built foundations in constitution and business law, and prepared her for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT).

Attracted to Immaculata by the appealing 9:1 faculty-to-student ratio, Bethman appreciated the connections she made directly with her professors. Her comfort in asking professors questions and contributing to classroom discussions is helping her now that she is in law school classes with more students.

“Walking into my law class with 60 people that first day, I was like, Good Lord, there are so many people. But it was nice to know that I knew how to carry a conversation with a professor. So, with that, I still felt comfortable,” she said.

Kenneth DiFilippo, a third-year undergraduate participating in the 3+3 pre-law program and majoring in criminology, also chose Immaculata for his undergrad studies because of the cost- and time-saving aspects of the program. Graduating from Immaculata in the spring and planning to enter Delaware Law School in fall 2023, he plans to leverage his experience gained through the 3+3 program.

During his undergrad pre-law program at Immaculata, DiFillippo has participated in a moot trial for the Criminal Courts: Structure and Procedure class, which he says was his favorite. He gained experience with the practical side of law, such as how to stand in front of the court and how to submit evidence. He has also worked at a civil law firm in the fields of real estate, land use and medical malpractice and understands that when it comes to the law, there is always a deeper mystery. “I think everything about law is its own ‘aha moment,’” DeFillipo says. “Studying court cases, creating a trial outline or understanding the law, all have one thing in common: it’s never about what you think it is.”

Third-year pre-law student Anthony Mineo also participated in the moot trial and connected that experience to his internship at a local district attorney’s office, where he observed a murder trial.

“As we were doing the moot trial, I was watching a real one,” Mineo states. “The lines were blurred, but it was very interesting.” He added that the way the moot trial was structured and the way his professor had the students submit evidence, handle statements, and defend against the prosecution was similar to what he was observing in the murder case.

“The unique thing about the program is that I don’t feel like there is a class that is irrelevant to our program, even statistics.” Mineo states. “You have to know statistics no matter what kind of law you’re going to do. Same thing with public speaking. If you can’t speak and you’re going to be a litigator, that’s a huge problem,” he said.

With the abundance of laws, citizens need lawyers to guide them. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for lawyers is projected to grow 10% from 2021 to 2031, faster than the average for all occupations.

While still navigating her first year of law school, Bethman is an advocate for Immaculata’s 3+3 program with Delaware Law School. “I think everyone should consider it,” she said. “It is awesome because I get to save a year of tuition. Especially for me, law school might not have been financially possible without this program.”

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