CSU Stanislaus is expected to be home to the new Pre-Law minor starting the 2018-2019 academic year*. Dr. Matthew Blake Wilson, first year faculty at Stanislaus, has been appointed as the Director of the new Pre-Law Advising Program (P-LAP).
Dr. Wilson graduated from San Francisco State University with a Bachelors of Arts in Philosophy, after which he attended University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law to gain his Juris Doctor degree. He specialized in criminal defense law, focusing more on civil rights and justice issues.
“I wanted to be like Atticus Finch from the book, To Kill a Mockingbird. I was filled with so much idealism when I graduated from law school, but that isn’t a bad thing,” Dr. Wilson said.
After 17 years as a lawyer serving the people of New York and California, Dr. Wilson hopes to impart as much knowledge possible to future law students.
He is currently working with nearby law schools like McGeorge, and has reached out to Stanford to establish a relationship between the law schools and the CSU to put on academic workshops like mock trials. He believes that by allowing students to get an early glimpse of what is come from law school they will realize how fully they must immerse themselves in their studies.
“Law school is torture! It is all consuming, and students need to know what they are being subjected to,” Dr. Wilson said.
But he also explains how it is rewarding in itself, “To be able to act on behalf of the people of California is an honor, that in itself makes all the hard work worth it.”
The Pre-Law Minor will be comprised of classes like: communications, ethics, history, economics, philosophy, and political science. Dr. Wilson wants to help prepare students as best as possible by providing resources for the Law School Admittance Test (LSAT) advising and personal statement writing for law school applications.
Kayla Witte (senior, Criminal Justice) is interested in law school and feels like the current lack of education at Stan State about law school and the process to gain admittance has left a lot of students lost on how to navigate their desired career path.
“I feel like we need more classes that can help you prepare. Because like I said, we are doing it on our own, we don’t know what we are doing, we don’t know what to study,” Witte said.
Law schools are looking for are students who are great critical thinkers and excellent expository writers, and Dr.Wilson said these skills are the most crucial skills to have as Pre-Law students, since they will be expected to take the LSAT, write a personal statement on their law school applications, and write motions throughout their career as a lawyer.
Silvia Chairez (senior, Criminal Justice) said that with a pre-law minor there will be a better opportunity for students to been seen by law schools.
“We as a legal studies concentration really don’t have a lot of outlets talking to agencies about internships because we don’t have a pre-law program and so we don’t have opportunities to talk to law schools or talk to law school representatives," Chairez said
Chairez added that many law schools did not not know where Stan State was and made her feel like she was not being taken seriously.
"If law schools know more about our school then it will help them take us more seriously,” Chairez said.
Dr. Wilson does not limit his teaching to only textbooks and academic resources but he shares his real life experience of what it was like going to law school, and sharing the reality of what their careers as lawyers might entail.
“You aren’t going to win every case, in fact there is a good chance you might lose more than you will win,” Dr. Wilson said.
Witte is currently taking Law and Society taught by Dr. Wilson and says, “I wish he was here earlier, like when I first got here.”
She finds that when Dr. Wilson incorporates real experience into the teachings, it makes the content more relatable, “the book is the book, but this is real life.”
Dr. Wilson states his goals and hopes for the program as it continues to develop overtime. Ultimately, Wilson hopes that every student who completes the minor will be as prepared as possible for law school and give them the edge to be taken as a serious candidate for Law school.
The Criminal Justice department will hosting a series of events titled, Para la Defensa, from Feb 22- Feb 23. The key speakers will be noted attorneys Tony Serra and Omar Figueroa.
*Clarification: Due to filing requirements, the pre-law minor may not be available until the 2019-2020 academic year. We regret any confusion this may have caused. Please contact Dr. Wilson for more information.