Where History and Law Collide: Legal Studies Program Internships

Saturday, January 9, 2016: 12:30 PM
Regency Ballroom VI (Hyatt Regency Atlanta)
Gregory Richard, Winona State University
Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota, is one of the few schools in the nation that has an American Bar Association approved four-year Paralegal Program. Our Legal Studies major includes a mandatory internship, where students can explore many types of internships within the legal community. Another interesting aspect of our Legal Studies Program is that it is under the realm of our history department. I am an Assistant Professor of Legal Studies according to my contract, but I teach more history classes than legal studies. Most of the history courses I teach, however, are required for the Legal Studies major. These classes include American Legal History and American Constitutional History.

Our Legal Studies Program, being led by a historian and under the history department’s umbrella, means that our students have opportunities to explore internships outside of the classic law firm experience. While our department has been more focused on the latter, my new directorship wants to move that toward the former. The program name change from Paralegal to Legal Studies took place just last year, during my first year as director. It more accurately describes what we do as a department, and it is much easier to recruit.

Winona State University is also a smaller school, located in a town of around 35,000. Our school has an undergraduate enrollment of close to 9,000. Also, we are located at the southeastern most tip of Minnesota along the Mississippi River. WSU is also located within an hour’s drive of the states of Wisconsin and Iowa.  With all of the above factors combined, our Legal Studies Program offers students the opportunity for a history and law internship unlike any other. Students can explore law in a unique setting, considering the influence of history on their program and their curriculum.

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