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Brittnie Burns

Undergraduate English student prepares for law school
[04.01.2015]

TAMPA, Fla. -- With the importance today’s society places on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, the knowledge of the value of a degree in liberal arts sometimes gets lost in the mix. This knowledge, however, was not the case for Brittnie Burns, a junior honors student majoring in literary studies. Burns has been accepted to Stetson Law’s 3+3 program, an accelerated bachelor’s/J.D. track that will allow her first year at Stetson to dually count as her final year at USF. I had the opportunity to talk with Burns, who is the first student to enter Stetson through this program, to discuss her time at USF, the process of being accepted into law school and her future ambitions.

Did you always want to be a lawyer?
I actually wanted to go in a really different direction. I wanted to be a doctor because I had discovered the show “Grey’s Anatomy,” and it made it seem like the best career path in the world. I took one anatomy and physiology class in high school and realized it was not the path for me. I sat down as a junior in high school and asked myself what I wanted to do. My favorite subject was English, and the thing I liked most about it was writing the critical analysis kind of essays because you get to interact with the text and prove a point and support it with evidence you find from the text. It just dawned on me that a lawyer does all of the things I just said were my favorite parts about English. I decided to give it a try and, so far, it stuck. We’ll see how it goes when I actually enter law school.

What kind of law do you want to practice?
I’m interested in criminal law. However, I know there are going to be a lot of obscure types of law that I don’t know about, so I’m trying not to be too set in stone. I want to have an open mind and let what interests me when I enter law school influence me.

How did you prepare for the LSAT?
I actually had to take the LSAT three different times. The first time I studied by myself with a prep book, and I didn’t have as much luck as I wanted. To get into Stetson’s program you need to get a 75th percentile score, and I think I got a 50th percentile. I thought it would be just like the SAT and ACT, where you can walk in without studying, and that was definitely not the case, at least not for me. The second time I took a prep course, and I was still a couple of points short, so I had to sit down and take it a third time.

How would you say your time at USF has helped prepare you for Stetson Law School?
Before coming to college, I was not very good at grammar. I didn’t even know what a comma splice was. I feel like the program has helped me in that aspect, as well as improving my writing and critical thinking skills, which I know will be crucial when it comes to law school. The exposure to a lot of dense material definitely made me a better reader in regards to what’s important and what’s fluff.

What do you expect during your time at Stetson?
My first year will be just like any traditional student’s time at Stetson. However, they are going to pair me with a mentor. I really think my first year will be different from other students’ because of that mentor, who will be there to really help me find my ground, give me tips and help me figure out what law school is going to be all about.

What advice do you have for anyone pursuing law school?
My best advice, based upon my own struggles, is to take the LSAT seriously. Take time to study for it. Don’t do what I did and underestimate what the test is going to be like. As far as the application process, get on it early. Give yourself time for errors.


Rachel Kelleher is a senior literary studies major, and she is interning this spring with the associate chair for the English department and ABO: Interactive Journal for Women in the Arts, 1640-1830. She can be reached at rkelleher@mail.usf.edu.
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Filed under:English Arts and Sciences Student Success   
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Author:Rachel Kelleher
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