Justice Administration program preparing students for law school

March 3, 2014

PLAINVIEW – Brenda McCartie was sitting in the back of the class when her cell phone vibrated.

It was the final time the class at Wayland Baptist University would meet for the semester, just days before Thanksgiving, and Dr. Justin Lawrence was summarizing the semester for his Preparation for Law School students. McCartie’s phone vibrated again.

“I saw on there the dean’s name from (Texas Tech Law School),” she said. “It popped up with his email address and I thought that was odd.”

As McCartie glanced at the email, she realized it was her acceptance letter to the School of Law at Texas Tech University in Lubbock – a dream come true.

Brenda McCartieMcCartie is one of three Wayland Baptist University students to be accepted to law school this academic year. Allie Miles was accepted at Texas Wesleyan and Michael Holubik has gone to Baylor. Both Miles and Holubik have already started their law school programs. McCartie, however, still has to complete her undergraduate work. She will graduate with a double major in justice administration and psychology in May.

For Lawrence, Assistant Professor of Justice and Public Administration, celebrating McCartie’s acceptance is what his program is all about. When he noticed McCartie, who had started to tear up, looking at her phone, he asked if she was okay. Her response was exactly what he hopes to hear from all of his students seeking to further their education at law school.

“We paused class,” Lawrence said. “Everybody was excited for her. My whole goal is to make the students successful. If they are successful, it makes me successful.”

Lawrence is in his third year, leading Wayland’s justice administration program. He has seen class sizes nearly triple in some cases, and is finding the interest in law school expanding from students in the program to students majoring in other academic disciplines. Holubik, for instance, majored in history and political science.

With the increased interest in pursuing law school, Lawrence, who holds a jurist doctorate from Texas Tech, designed a course that he describes as a “mini boot camp” in preparation for law school. Lawrence said through the course he teaches students how to prepare for the LSAT entrance exam, the admissions process and what students need to look for to find the law school that is the right fit for them. He also tries to teach them the skills necessary to be a lawyer.

Dr. Justin Lawrence“We look at some of those subject matters that are in the first year of law school,” Lawrence said. “I teach it like a first-year law school class so that they understand the demands, the rigger, being embarrassed by the professor, being held accountable by the professor, all the Socratic questioning so they can see if this is really for them.”

Lawrence said his goal with the program is to try to teach students to see and understand both sides of an argument. He uses current events and court cases as examples for students to analyze.

“What I try to do is make the program practical,” Lawrence said. “We look at the law, but we look at how the law applies to the facts and how it applies to the real world.”

For McCartie, who wants to experience different aspects of the law, applying what she has learned is her top priority.

“If I was in court every day, and I was helping people, that would keep me going,” she said.

For more on McCartie’s journey to Law School, look for the next issue of Wayland’s alumni magazine, Footprints, due out in April.