PPE Student Gives Advice For Success in Law School

The Kellogg Center for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics is proud to feature Jennalee Beazley (pictured with Professor Dan Ariely at PPE Distinguished Public Lecture), a former PPE student who is now attending Duke University School of Law. Jennalee was happy to give us some feedback about how the PPE program prepared her for academic excellence in law school.

Jennalee, do you have any advice for students pursuing law school?

I would say that the two most important things to do in law school are to build good relationships with your professors and to get used to doing large amounts of dense reading. PPE gave me a very unique opportunity to get to know professors on a personal basis. I think that this has really helped me feel more comfortable talking with professors in law school which is key if you want to be successful.

I also noticed that because I did PPE it was easier for me to get through the readings than people who had majored in sciences like biology where you are mostly memorizing information instead of critically analyzing it. In law school you need to read much more in depth than you would be expected as an undergraduate student. My teachers expect me to know every detail of the papers we read all the way down to the footnotes.

Also my teachers rely on the Socratic method of teaching to keep students involved. You have to be prepared to answer any question about the text on the spot. It is common for teachers at law school to cold call students in classes.

In what ways has the PPE program benefited you in law school?

When I think of the PPE program, I think especially of the PPE Capstone Course and the introduction to philosophy class. I think both of these courses have helped me a lot in law school. Especially during my first year I noticed that thought experiments, like the trolley problem, always came up in my law courses. I would say that all of my skills that I learned from PPE are relevant in law school. I have a much wider breadth of knowledge now because of the PPE program.

I didn’t realize that law and economics were so intertwined. One of my favorite courses in law school was about how we can justify laws through the use of economic theory. I think that I was able to excel in this class because I already had some familiarity with economics from PPE so I wasn’t learning everything for the first time. Everyone in law school comes from very diverse academic backgrounds which creates a really cool dynamic, but I think that I was also at an advantage with the wide breadth of knowledge I learned from the PPE program.

What are your classes like?

Everyone takes the same basic classes their first year, which are civil procedure, tort law, criminal law, contract, and property law. Philosophical questions to which I had been exposed in the PPE program came up in everyone of my classes. Many of my classes started out asking why does this exist at all? Why do we have civil procedure? What’s the point of having rules that govern the courtroom? We also talked about moral theories almost everyday in my criminal law class. My undergraduate education in PPE helped me significantly with answering such questions.

Did you have any favorite PPE talks?

I really enjoyed the PPE talks. I especially enjoyed the talk by Dan Ariely. I had just gotten into Duke Law School so it was cool to meet a professor who already worked there. Hearing him talk about his job as a behavioral economist really helped me to feel secure in what I wanted to do.

I think one big problem for social science majors is it’s really hard to picture what your life is going to look like after your undergraduate degree. Or in other words, it’s really hard to say what your concrete contribution to the world is going to be. Seeing Dan’s talk helped me visualize my life as a social justice advocate working on the border between law and social science. It’s nice to see people without a stem degree making significant contributions to the world!


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