College of Arts and Humanities

New legal history emphasis offers practical path to law school


Clemson University is offering a new pathway for aspiring law students to establish a solid foundation for their future legal studies.

Lee Wilson leads the Department of History and Geography’s legal history emphasis area. A former attorney and now associate professor, Wilson has first-hand knowledge of what it takes to succeed in law school.

“I feel really strongly that the courses we offer produce more positive analytical reasoning, writing and reading outcomes,” Wilson said. “I can say from personal experience as a history major that it helped get me through law school at Fordham University.”

Clemson’s College of Arts and Humanities aims to equip these legal-minded students with the skills to think critically and read analytically. Students will dive into a course load of history, philosophy and political science classes while becoming well-versed in legal history from the English Reformation to modern U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

We want to make pre-law one of the four pillars of our newly formed College of Arts and Humanities because success in law combines so many of the fields we represent, from English to philosophy to history.


Wilson employs the Socratic method to teach, which triggers a constant back-and-forth dialogue between herself and her students. A student is expected to know the answer to a question when called, Wilson said, which ingrains accountability and critical thinking.

“It’s dealing with it in a nuanced way and trying to place it in the context of a long arc of American legal history and jurisprudence,” she said of the emphasis. “Students can understand that when they go to law school and read those cases out of context, there’s a deeper story underneath it.”

Since obtaining her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in 2014, Wilson has been with Clemson University, driven by her passion for researching the English origins of slave law in South Carolina and the Caribbean.

She celebrated the publication of her book, “Bonds of Empire,” by the Cambridge University Press in July 2021.

Statistics show that history majors are viewed favorably on law school applications. Humanities students are also more likely to record a higher Law School Admission Test (LSAT) score than those in the sciences.

The College of Arts and Humanities also offers pre-law advising services, part of the College’s emphasis on translating quality liberal arts education to successful careers.

“A humanities background prepares students for more than just a first job because it trains them to learn quickly, analyze intently, think deeply and community effectively,” Dean Nicholas Vazsonyi said. “Law is one of the more tangible ways a humanities education can lead to a meaningful career and life.”

Want to Discuss?

Get in touch and we will connect you with the author or another expert.

Or email us at

    This form is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.