Legal Studies

Legal Studies students dive into ethics, conflict resolution, and social justice to understand the profound effect that law has on people’s everyday experiences, and our graduates – who are advised by attorney faculty members and are required to take a second major – are well prepared for law school or a career in the legal field.

Interdisciplinary project creates vital co-parenting tool for Rhode Island Family Court

With generous funding from the Hassenfeld Family Initiatives, faculty and undergraduate students from RWU's Legal Studies and Psychology programs as well as RWU Law students created "Parenting Together: Do It for the Kids,” a 20-minute video showcasing best parenting practices for families involved in Rhode Island Family Court. This interdisciplinary community-engaged project took several years to research and create. Read more here. 

Success By The Numbers

Real-World Experience

SJS students have guaranteed opportunities for internships or co-op experiences at various agencies.

Placement of 2022 Grads

Our 2022 SJS graduates found success in employment or in graduate school within 6 months of graduation.

Average Starting Salary

of our 2022 graduates.

Degree Requirements


Earn your bachelor’s and juris doctor degrees in six years through RWU’s Three-Plus-Three Law program. You’ll get a jump-start on your J.D. by integrating law courses into your undergraduate studies and completing undergraduate requirements in your first year of law school. Accepted students will take first-year courses in the School of Law along with legal electives to fulfill undergraduate fourth-year requirements. Interested students must indicate their intent to pursue a 3+3 pathway early in their undergraduate studies for curriculum planning and advising.

Learn More About the 3+3 Program


Customize Your Studies 

Choose Your Second Major 

A student reading a book in a classroom The Legal Studies program provides a strong pre-law education with a unique interdisciplinary approach. Students learn how law interacts with other areas of study and how it's incorporated into every facet of society while gaining a foundation to enter law school or go straight into the workforce. To provide a true interdisciplinary undergraduate curriculum, our program requires you to incorporate a second major from the School of Social and Natural Sciences or the School of Humanities, Arts, and Education. Many students pair Legal Studies with Psychology, Political Science, Philosophy, Anthropology + Sociology, Creative Writing, English Literature, History, or Modern Languages. 

Legal Advocacy Clinic

Led by Professor of Legal Studies Tricia Martland L’00, the Legal Advocacy Clinic is a unique opportunity for students interested in working with victims of domestic violence in the court system. The clinic experience begins in the classroom where students learn the history of domestic violence and the unique challenges involved with addressing domestic violence cases. Once students are educated and trained, they work in courthouses throughout Rhode Island to assist and advocate on behalf of clients that wish to apply for orders of protection. Students work weekly to provide advocacy services, under the direction of the instructor.

3+3 Legal Studies/Juris Doctor Program

Outstanding students who qualify for this special accelerated program earn a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies along with a Juris Doctor in six years rather than seven. The program is jointly sponsored by the School of Justice Studies and the Roger Williams University School of Law.

A Path to Law School 

A student walking by the Law School buildingAfter completing their undergraduate degree at RWU, many of our Legal Studies students continue to law school to earn their Juris Doctor. Some schools our graduates have attended include Roger Williams University School of Law, Suffolk University School of Law, Boston University School of Law, Georgetown University School of Law, University of Connecticut School of Law, New England Law, and School of Law at Quinnipiac University. 


Learn From Faculty Experts 

A headshot of Tricia MartlandTricia Martland L'00, Esq. 
Professor of Legal Studies 

Tricia Martland, who earned her Juris Doctor degree at RWU School of Law, is the director of the Legal Advocacy Clinic at the RWU School of Justice Studies. She brings students into courtrooms across Rhode Island to serve as victim advocates. She also trains members of the Rhode Island criminal justice system at the annual Rhode Island State Victim Assistance Academy, offered in partnership by RWU’s Justice System Training and Research Institute and the Family Service of Rhode Island since 2008. In 2020, Martland was recognized for her career-long advocacy and efforts in the victims’ rights movement with a Crime Victim Service award.


Alumni Share Their Experiences 

A headshot of Morgan Clark“The Legal Studies program was a wonderful learning experience and has really prepared me for my time in law school. I was able to make great connections. One life-changing experience I had was an internship at the Rhode Island Family Court where I was able to witness mediations and court hearings firsthand." 

Morgan Clark ’20
Majors: Legal Studies and Psychology
Second-year Law Student at UMass Dartmouth

A headshot of Nicole Verdi"This program prepared me for day one of law school. I enjoyed learning from such experienced professors and being challenged in ways that helped me develop professionally. I've used the skills I learned throughout my legal career." 

Nicole M. Verdi '11 L'14 
Majors: Legal Studies and Political Science 
Head of New England Government Affairs & Policy at Orsted Americas in Providence, R.I.

A headshot of Bennett Flanagan"Legal Studies was more valuable to my transition to being a 1L than I could have ever imagined. The foundational understandings of Case Briefs, Constitutional Law, and Torts, which I gained through a number of my classes at RWU, were instrumental in helping me catch my footing." 

Bennett Flanagan '22 
Majors: Legal Studies and Political Science
First-year Law Student at Georgetown University Law Center


Intern with Prestigious Organizations  

A Law student entering a courtroom

Legal Studies majors must complete a required internship that allows them to gain practical, hands-on experience in the industry. Students have interned at places such as:

  • Family courts
  • Public defenders’ offices 
  • The Attorney General’s office
  • State attorney general offices
  • Private law firms
  • Women’s centers
  • Homeless shelters
  • State courts


Ways to Get Involved

Mock Trial 

The Mock Trial Club is a competitive travel team that promotes and teaches courtroom skills and techniques through simulated courtroom settings as prescribed by the American Mock Trial Association. RWU Mock Trial is a great club for any student interested in the legal field, but students of every major are welcome and appreciated. The team competes in invitational, regional, and national competitions. 

Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law 

A group of students in a courtroomPhi Alpha Delta is a pre-law fraternity and a pre-professional academic club on campus. RWU's chapter runs on an open-membership policy and holds many types of programs that deal with the legal career, LSAT preparation, and anything members want to learn more about.

John Jay Society 

The John Jay Society is a student-run club open to all School of Justice Studies majors with the goal of furthering students' understanding and appreciation of the criminal justice system. The club helps members prepare for future careers in the criminal justice field, promotes opportunities for students to interact with professionals in the criminal justice field, sponsors events and demonstrations that inform the campus community about local crime issues, and more. 

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