Before I came to Patrick Henry College, I coached at another academic institution, and my students frequently faced PHC’s powerful moot court teams. I think the assumption among many of the other coaches in intercollegiate moot b court was that Patrick Henry was comprised almost exclusively of very driven pre-law students intent on going to top-flight schools.
Of course, when I was hired at PHC, I found this conjecture was not true. Patrick Henry is a college with a very robust and demanding curriculum taught in a classical liberal arts tradition. Accordingly, most of our students are not interested in attending law school. But, I certainly don’t want anyone to think that Patrick Henry College has abandoned its objective to provide one of the premier pre-law programs in the nation. Our students have been admitted routinely, and often with significant financial support, to the very best law school in the United States, including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, NYU, Chicago, Duke, the University of Virginia, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Northwestern, and the University of Pennsylvania to name but a few.
This level of success at a small college that is roughly a dozen years old doesn’t happen by accident. The LORD has blessed the College with the strong leadership needed to facilitate PHC’s excellent pre-law program—and I am using “program” much the same way that sportswriters use the term to laud athletic teams that are successful over time (e.g. Alabama in football, Duke in basketball).
What are some of the reasons why PHC pre-law is so successful? First, we have a successful strategy for taking on the dreaded “LSAT.” In the last five years, our students’ averages on the test have improved five points with an overall average above the 96th percentile of all test takers.
Second, we have nationally competitive teams in intercollegiate moot court and mock trial. Some might ask why success in this activity is so important. It’s because of how this rigorous discipline so beautifully complements and reinforces the mission and founding vision of Patrick Henry College. The College’s mission is to shape the culture and serve the nation with timeless biblical values and fidelity to the spirit of the American founding. Our success in this arena suggests that we are representing our Father in Heaven and the College with excellence and integrity. I can also assure you that it says a lot about the kind of education that we are providing to our students. The simple truth is that the best intercollegiate moot court program in America is not at Princeton. It is not at Duke. It is not at Harvard. It is here at Patrick Henry College! As someone commented to me a few days ago, how many schools can say that they are the best in the country at anything?
Our students work incredibly hard to prepare themselves, but credit and gratitude for the success we enjoy in this activity also goes to every member of the faculty, the administration, the on-campus staff, and especially to those who donate financially or who otherwise support the College.
Our moot court team members frequently go on to attend the top law and postgraduate schools in the nation. As these law students graduate, they will have the chance to make a difference in ways that go well beyond winning championship trophies. We are certainly proud of the success of these programs, but, perhaps even more to the point, they are an indispensable part of our pre-law program. In more than 15 years of coaching, I have never had a moot court or mock trial student who, wanting to attend law school, failed to earn admission.
Finally, we have developed an approach to the application process, the “Building Block Approach.” It isn’t rocket science, but it seems to work. I’ve presented the process to pre-law advisors and students across the country. At PHC, we walk each of our students through the process step-by-step when they are applying to law school.
As I said, there are many things we do well here at Patrick Henry College. But, the opportunities that we provide to pre-law students at PHC may be second to none—anywhere. My sincere hope is that, as the LORD continues to bless our program, we reach the point where every informed Christian young man or woman who is interested in going to law school will have to consider PHC very, very seriously!