Learning the Law to Continue a Humanistic Education

As part of the Philosophy Lecture Series, Gayla Sorenson, dean of admissions at BYU Law School, spoke about the importance of law training in society and how philosophy students are well prepared to go into law.

 Gayla_SorensonPROVO, Utah (September 24, 2015)— In the United States, citizens enjoy personal liberties that individuals elsewhere do not. The laws of the nation have created an environment where liberty has the opportunity to thrive. To ensure that liberty continues to flourish, the law should be studied—and philosophy students are qualified candidates.

Gayla Sorenson, dean of admissions at BYU Law School, addressed a group of students as part of the Philosophy Lecture Series. She explained that the objectives of our society are peace and stability, and law is the way those objectives can be accomplished.

“Societies throughout the centuries have consistently needed laws to help our societies become the kinds of places that we want and that respect freedom while also respecting the rights of others,” said Sorenson.

Sorenson noted that a legal education is focused on developing certain skills that are beneficial to both the individual and society. Some of the most notable skills gained through a legal education, she mentioned, are problem solving, leadership, good judgment and the ability to help others heal.

As Sorenson described how the law keeps our society going, she noted that the law is in need of more deep thinkers and bright people to join its forces. Philosophy students, she said, are just that. They possess strong analytic and writing skills – and, according to one national study, higher LSAT scores than any other group of students – that are beneficial in the study of law, and their training enables them to approach the issues of society by questioning assumptions in a productive way.

“I am a firm believer that if we got more commonality on the philosophical underpinning of what we’re doing instead of so much focus on the tactical implementation of certain solutions, we would be able to build more sustainable solutions that will be much more valuable,” said Sorenson.

While Sorenson did express a strong favorable impression of philosophy majors, she encouraged students to major in what they love. She explained that when she interviews students to study at BYU Law, not only does she want to see a high GPA – she also wants to see a passion for learning and an ability to communicate that passion.

“We tend to do better at things that we love, so don’t choose a major that you think is going to get you somewhere, but you’re not really excited about,” said Sorenson. “Choose what you love, and then the other things will follow along.”

—Kayla Goodson (B.A. Communications and French studies ’17)

Kayla covers the Philosophy Department for the College of Humanities. She is a junior pursuing a dual degree in French studies and Journalism with a minor in international strategy and diplomacy.