Pre-Law · Spotlights · Pensacola Christian College

Pre-Law

PCC graduates and students use their training in remarkable ways. Read about how God is using them in their field of study.

PCC’s prelaw program gives students a comprehensive background with courses in debate, economics, writing, public speaking, criminal justice, tax accounting, and American government. Graduates are equipped to succeed in law school and to stand for righteousness as servant leaders in various legal professions.

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Clinton Cagle ’99

Clinton Cagle Prelaw

  • Juris Doctorate: Florida A&M University College of Law
  • Personal Injury Lawyer at his practice, The Cagle Law Firm
  • Graduated in the top 15% of his class
  • Served on Law Review and on the Student Bar Association as 1L representative, ABA representative, and president
  • Adjunct Law Professor, Florida A&M University College of Law

“PCC really helped me to develop my study skills and work ethic. The education I received at PCC is, by far, greater than that of any public college. I also had my greatest spiritual growth at PCC, which helped me be who I am today.”

Captain Patrick Callahan ’00

Captian Patrick Callahan, PreLaw

  • Juris Doctorate: University of Mississippi School of Law
  • Military Criminal Defense Lawyer at Callahan Law Firm
  • Served as defense counsel at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego

  • Awards:
    • Marine Corps Defense Counsel of the Year for the Western Region
    • graduated cum laude from the University of Mississippi

“PCC’s Prelaw program provides an excellent foundation on which to build while attending law school. It strengthened my ability to reason and to think quickly on my feet. PCC also instilled discipline in me, which was key not only to my time in the Marine Corps but also to running my own law firm in a time-consuming and stressful field.

“The most rewarding part about working in the law field is seeing justice done in a difficult case. The reason I am a defense attorney is much deeper than the typical political or philosophical answers. All men are sinners, whether they are criminals or not. All sinners have justly earned an eternity in hell. Yet Christ so loved us in our sins that He died to pay the price for them. If we accept Him and His blood on the cross as the payment for our sins, we can have Heaven as our eternal home.

“The Bible teaches that Satan accuses each of us before God, the ultimate Judge. Satan’s accusations are true as we have all sinned. Yet, we have available to us (at no charge) the greatest defense attorney ever—Jesus Christ. Scripture teaches us that He is our Advocate (defense attorney) before God, the Judge. And He never loses a case. He pleads that Satan is correct, that justice demands punishment for our sins, but that He has already paid that price on our behalf.

“So if Christ is my Advocate, even though I am guilty and worthy of Hell, how can I refuse to be an advocate for my fellow man, whether he is guilty or not? I hope to show the love of God through my work to the most unloved in our society and thus to bring honor and glory to Him.”

Jason Engram ’93

Jason Engram

  • Independent Attorney
  • Juris Doctorate: St. Thomas University School of Law
  • Dean’s list honor student, graduated in the top one–fourth of his law school class
  • Served on the Opinio Juris, the law school student newspaper
  • Completed the Institute of Continuing Legal Education’s Estate Planning Certificate Program

“A good portion of my cases require writing skills, interpretation, and, of course, good grammar. Most of those cases require a court appearance or two, and ultimately a trial, so PCC’s speech and oral interpretation classes assisted in preparing me for that.”

Sean McDivitt ’12

Sean McDivitt

  • Law Student, Oklahoma City University (OK)
  • Editor In Chief, Oklahoma City University Law Review

When Sean McDivitt (’12) failed his physical fitness test by three sit-ups after being accepted into the Air Force Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps, he did not accept defeat. Though immediately dismissed from the program, Sean began seeking other avenues of entering the Corps, including through direct appointment.

“PCC taught me how in the face of setbacks and disappointments to have patience, to not give up trying,” Sean says. “I worked on my physical fitness and volunteered in the JAG office at Tinker AFB every week.”

However, Sean realized his chances of making it back into JAG through direct appointment were slim. “The acceptance rate hovers around four percent throughout the country,” Sean explains. “Thankfully, the Lord allowed me to be selected for direct appointment in November. I will be commissioned once I pass the Oklahoma bar in 2015 and will then commit to four years in the JAG Corps.”

In the meantime at Oklahoma City University School of Law, Sean participates in multiple law associations, serves as president of the school’s Christian Legal Society, and holds the position of editor in chief (EIC) for the Oklahoma City University Law Review—while taking a full class load. “My dream before law school was to be on Law Review because it’s a credential that you will hold for the rest of your legal career, but I didn’t ever think I could get the position of EIC,” Sean said.

As EIC, Sean oversees the Board of Editors as well as 35 staff members. “I have the final say on all the articles that are published. We verify every assertion and footnote for support in all articles, monitor articles for plagiarism, and ensure compliance with grammar and Bluebook rules.” It is here that Sean applies the lessons learned in his Advanced Grammar and Composition and Copy Editing classes at PCC. He says, “The work is extremely detailed, and PCC’s rigorous academics and grading system augmented and honed my ability to pay attention to details.”

In February 2015, the Law Review published Sean’s Note, Striking the Harmonious Chord for Corporate Social Responsibility and Individuals: Affirming Closely Held Corporations’ Religious Objections to the HHS Mandate. Sean says, “It’s exciting to see how the Lord continues to use us in the ways He sees fit.”

Joshua Dunlap ’05

Joshua Dunlap Prelaw grad

  • Graduated first in his class from the University of Notre Dame Law School in ’08

There is a great need for attorneys with Christian integrity to be a voice for righteousness,” said Joshua Dunlap. “The Lord wants to use good men and women who are surrendered to Him and willing to follow Daniel’s example while serving in law or government.” During the ceremony, he received the Hoynes Award, Notre Dame’s highest honor for academic excellence. As a law student, he published “When Big Brother Plays God: The Religious Clauses, Title VII, and the Ministerial Exception” in the Notre Dame Law Review.

Joshua said, “PCC’s prelaw program provided excellent preparation for law school. I found that PCC’s emphasis on writing, public speaking, history, and law provided me with the tools needed for effective communication and critical thinking—two of the most important skills necessary to succeed in law school.

“And PCC’s program certainly provided me the tools to be successful in a top-ranked law school like Notre Dame. I felt PCC’s training rivaled or exceeded the training many of my peers had received at well-known schools around the country. I attribute much of my success in law school to PCC’s solid prelaw program.”

After law school, Joshua served as law clerk for the Hon. Paul J. Kelly Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is now an associate at Pierce Atwood LLP, one of New England’s leading law firms.

“I encourage anyone thinking about becoming involved in law or government to consider PCC’s prelaw program,” Joshua said. “It is a great opportunity to study at a college that provides great academic training with a solid Christian foundation.”

Nathan McKinney ’99

Nathan McKinney

  • Juris Doctorate: North Carolina Central University School of Law
  • Criminal Defense Lawyer, Kurtz & Blum

“PCC paved the way for my law school work and legal career in a number of important ways. First, I grew in my relationship to God. The church services, chapels, prayer groups, and service opportunities brought me to a closer and more mature relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Second, PCC sharpened my academic skills and enhanced my appreciation for academic excellence. My speech and debate classes taught me to study both sides of an issue, understand the arguments, frame my argument, and then present my argument in eloquent and persuasive fashion. Pensacola Christian College was a huge part of God’s plan for my life, and I am most grateful for how He works.”

Nikki Mesnard ’03

Nikki Mesnard, Prelaw

  • Juris Doctorate: Capital University Law School
  • Associate with Wiles, Boyle, Burkholder & Bringardner Attorneys at Law
  • Judicial law clerk in probate court 4 years

“I truly appreciate PCC’s desire to train students to be well-rounded, quality people. The overall training of the mind and soul to think about all facets of a situation, and to act and react to life in appropriate and godly ways, has helped me strive to be an attorney who practices with grace and dignity as well as with intelligence.

“The writing and speech classes were the best preparation for law school. The tax and accounting courses were also incredibly useful; having knowledge of tax and accounting has been great for my practice.”

Cathy McMorris Rodgers ’90

Cathy McMorris Rodgers

  • U.S. House of Representatives, 5th Congressional District (WA)
  • Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference
  • House Energy and Commerce Committee Member

PCC graduate (’90) Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), in her fourth term in the U.S. House of Representatives, was recently named the fifth most influential conservative woman in politics by conservative political blogger John Hawkins. She was also voted one of the “Most Loved” colleagues to work with by fellow members of Congress (Newsmax, Dec. ’09).

PCC’s first graduate to be elected to the House of Representatives, McMorris Rodgers represents Washington State’s 5th Congressional District, serves as Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference, and holds a place on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. These positions make her the highest-ranking female Republican in Congress.

Her interest in politics began as a high school senior when she attended a convention and learned about the need for Christians in government. Having dedicated her life to be what she calls a “Christian missionary” in government, she chose to pursue a prelaw degree at PCC for a strong foundation in English, history, speech, and law.

Just three years after graduating from PCC, she was elected as a State Representative at the age of 24, becoming Washington state’s youngest legislator. She served five terms, eventually becoming House Minority Leader, and earned several recognitions and respect from fellow legislators.

In 2004, Cathy was elected to the U.S. Congress, where she is serving her fourth term. “I’m sincerely concerned about the amount of control and desired control the various forms of government have over our families, children, business, church, and communities,” Cathy said. “God has instituted government, yet we as individuals must still be responsible for ourselves and our actions. Our founding fathers regarded religion as being so important that when they passed the Bill of Rights, religious liberty was the very first right they safeguarded.”

Through her years in politics, Cathy has learned to rely on God to lift her above fear and pressure. She said, “When I look back, God has clearly been leading in my life: first, the call, then the foundation at PCC, then the experience and training…, then the responsibility. At PCC, God became real to me personally. Now, God has thrust me into a ministry over my head where I must cry out to Him. I take this position very seriously as I attempt to carry it out until completion because I believe God is calling me to do this.”

PCC’s prelaw and political science programs give graduates a solid foundation and excellent preparation for law school and graduate studies. Many are serving as lawyers, State and U.S. Representatives, executive assistants, government aides, professors, and in other government-related positions.

Laurel McDonald ’04

Laurel McDonald Prelaw

  • Master of Business Administration: Pensacola Christian College
  • Nissan North America Material Challenge/Budomari

“I’m leading the Nissan North America Material Challenge/Budomari Activity. This is a cost reduction activity that involves several different functions (Engineering, Manufacturing, Suppliers, etc.) while seeking to identify better ways of utilizing material, reducing scrap, along with other things. It also crosses national boundaries because I get to work with people from Japan and Mexico on these projects.

“My PCC prelaw degree helped me develop the skills necessary to develop contracts. It also helped prepare me to prepare and give presentations in a short period of time.

“My favorite undergraduate class was World History Since 1900 with Dr. Kurt Grussendorf. He was able to bring history alive by making it more than just facts and dates. Instead he showed how different technologies and events helped shape the people that would later follow Adolf Hitler or fight him. It helped show me that even the tiny details can have a huge impact on a generation’s viewpoint.”

John Mark Brothers ’94
  • Juris Doctorate: College of William and Mary

“PCC did a great job of preparing me for law school through the class schedule I was required to take. In particular, the speech classes helped me get used to speaking, which I had to do a lot of in law school.”

Teresa Dutton ’98

Teresa Dutton Prelaw

  • Staff Attorney, Escambia County Courthouse (Pensacola, FL)
  • Juris Doctorate: Liberty University School of Law—graduated 1st in class among Liberty’s first graduating law class
  • Awards:Awarded “Best Oralist” from Federal Bar Association, Thurgood Marshall Moot Court Competition 2007

“I assist the circuit judges in researching legal issues upon which they must rule, and in writing their final orders on those issues. My favorite part of working in the legal field is my involvement in upholding the law and helping to assure that justice is done for the many people who work with and pass through our American criminal justice system.

“My undergraduate degree was in English Education at PCC. I believed that God would have me to teach English for the rest of my career. God showed me, however, that His will was for me to be in the legal field. I was extremely surprised to find that my English background prepared me uniquely for the legal field. So much of what I had been taught about research and writing was replicated in my legal training. I excelled at legal writing because of the background PCC had given me in research, writing, and analysis.”

Karen Thomas ’98

Karen Thomas Prelaw

  • Juris Doctorate: Thomas M. Cooley Law School
  • Master of Law in Intellectual Property, emphasis in Copyright, Trademark and Trade Secrets: The John Marshall Law School
  • Awards: Thomas M. Cooley Law School: Book Award for Law of Cyberspace

“PCC’s English classes were especially beneficial to me in law school, and in particular Advanced Grammar, where I learned how to summarize information concisely and accurately. This skill became the one I relied on the most during law school, and I was always grateful that my teacher had the wisdom not only to teach it, but also to teach it so thoroughly. He knew, where I did not, that this would be a valuable skill for any graduate work, and especially valuable in the field of law.

As a result of my training at PCC, I was able to perform well in Legal Writing classes, as the following story illustrates:

As a first-year law student, I was assigned to read a case and write a brief. I did my best and used every skill taught by the PCC English professors.

When I met with my professor, he looked through his file of briefs to find mine. He pulled it out and said excitedly, ‘You’re the one! You’re the one!! Where did you learn to write?’

I replied, ‘Pensacola Christian College. Why do you ask?’

His answer stunned me: ‘I had to ask. We have never seen writing skills this strong in a first-year law student, so we wanted to know where you learned to write!’

I have always treasured the training that the entire PCC English department provided.

I also treasured the speech classes at PCC. The speech faculty prepared me for giving various presentations in law school, for which I am deeply grateful.”

Joe Dunn ’00

Joe Dunn

  • Market President and Chief Lending Officer, Eagle Bank and Trust (AR)

Joe Dunn (’00) is thankful for his position as the market president and chief lending officer of Eagle Bank and Trust in Little Rock, Arkansas. Though he had hoped to attend law school after graduating from Pensacola Christian College, his plans changed when a lady at his church convinced him to work as a loan officer at her bank. She had seen him work with teenagers in the church and recognized his ability to interact with people. “She told me that she had hired numerous people who could work with numbers but were ineffective with people,” Joe said. “So she decided to hire someone who could work with people and learn the numbers.” From there, Joe excelled in the bank positions he was given.

Scrutinizing the media in his communications classes at PCC helped Joe develop the ability to evaluate information rather than simply take it at face value. “Daily, I look over hundreds of pages of financial information provided by various customers and prospects,” he said. “The ability to think, evaluate, and understand things is critical.”

The classes at PCC also taught Joe self-discipline, leadership, and a trait he feels is essential to his current position: professionalism. “My instructors ingrained in me that we do our best and conduct ourselves as professionals. That has helped set me apart in the business world.” Now when Joe meets with his bank staff, professionalism is the one word he uses to help them understand how to conduct themselves.

Joe has been employed by Eagle Bank for over five years. His daily responsibilities include overseeing the retail and lending departments for Eagle Bank’s six central Arkansas locations. He directly manages the lending department and oversees a $25 million loan portfolio. Last year, Joe graduated from the Graduate School of Banking at Southern Methodist University.

Though a banking career was a change from his original plans, Joe said, “I truly believe God has placed me where I am today.”

Jordan Henry (Jr., MO)

Jordon Henry

  • Prelaw Student, Pensacola Christian College

When Jordan Henry (Jr., MO) began working at a small Christian radio station in his hometown six years ago, he enjoyed doing everything from hosting live radio shows to sticking number labels onto CD cases. But he never dreamed where that work experience would lead him. “Last year, in the summer of 2014, I was at the radio station doing some work when the Phyllis Schlafly Report came on,” said Jordan. “At the end, Mrs. Schlafly talked about a summit that Eagle Forum hosts for college students every year in Washington, D.C.”

Jordan applied and was accepted to the summit on a scholarship. After attending the forum, Jordan “fell in love with Eagle Forum’s rich history of standing up for conservative, Christian values,” he said. An internship with the Phyllis Schlafly Eagle Forum was ideal for this prelaw major.

Right away, Jordan felt at home as an Eagle Forum intern. “It was a friendly place with friendly people who helped me to strengthen the areas where I am weak and then grow in the areas where I am already strong,” he said. Jordan could hardly believe how involved he could be as just an intern.

He was working side by side with top writers and political analysts, speaking with Phyllis Schlafly herself, and actually helping to influence public policy. During his internship, he communicated with Eagle Forum leaders in all fifty states, contributed on the Phyllis Schlafly Report radio program, and served as editor-in-chief for the Eagle Forum Collegians blog.

Jordan believes his college preparation played a large part in why he felt so prepared for the internship. “English classes at PCC gave me foundational writing skills that helped me write eloquently, effectively, and concisely,” he said. “History of Civilization and American History gave me a proper framework in which to put my political positions,” he added. “Bible class and chapel helped me to build a Christian foundation for my political beliefs and for how I interacted with other people.” Chuckling, he admitted, “Even the dress code helped me prepare to dress for success in a professional setting.”

Apparently all of that preparation did pay off—Jordan was asked to return to St. Louis in September to help host the Eagle Council, an Eagle Forum annual convention. Usually, the convention brings in outstanding guest speakers and political experts, but with the presidential race right around the corner, this Council was different. The event featured six presidential candidates who were running at the time: Dr. Ben Carson, Governor Rick Perry, Governor Mike Huckabee, Senator Rick Santorum, Senator Ted Cruz, and Senator Rand Paul.

One of Jordan’s roles at the event was to personally escort Dr. Carson and Governor Huckabee. “Here I was,” said Jordan, “acting as the personal escort for people who could be the next president, shaking their hands and conversing with them backstage.”

Although Jordan doesn’t know what his future holds concerning politics, he feels blessed to have been able to join Eagle Forum, working to keep America the land of the free.

Judge April C. Wood ’94

Judge Wood

“There is a great need for more Christian judges who are willing to do the right thing regardless of public opinion or selfish desires,” said Judge April C. Wood. “Perhaps the most important aspect of my decision [to become a judge] was the need for more Christian judges.”

While growing up, April was certain she would become a tough lawyer like the ones she saw on television. To help April reach that goal, her father routinely engaged her in debates that developed April’s ability to defend her position on an issue. As she grew older, April used the Abeka Academy video program for 10th grade, which strengthened her desire to attend Pensacola Christian College and major in Prelaw.

“The history classes at PCC built upon my strong Christian foundation and belief that our nation was founded on Christian principles,” April said. “The professors at PCC were able to show how the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States are rooted in a Christian perspective of the nature of government and the nature of man. This helped me to understand common law and its development as well as its codification.

“What I appreciate most about my education at PCC is that several of my professors had a legal or criminal justice background. I found the experiences that they shared to be informative, interesting, and sometimes entertaining. Their life experiences provided some of the most useful information, and I still think about some of those stories when I am contemplating a decision.

“Without a doubt, the speech requirements at PCC were extremely beneficial to me. I used to be anxious about public speaking, but the speech classes helped me overcome my anxiety. The speech classes taught me how to use vocal inflections, pauses, and facial expressions to persuade and to get my point across to my listeners. The debate class certainly helped to prepare me for debate and trial practice classes at law school.”

Prior to being elected to district court, April earned a Juris Doctor from Regent University School of Law, and began her own private law practice. “Once I started practicing law, it did not take me long to learn that I did not enjoy criminal law. God revealed to me that family law is where I could make the biggest impact on people for His glory. That is the area of law where most of the hurting and lost people are, and that is where I could help people the most by being a shining light for Christ. I knew that I would have much more influence as a judge than I did as a lawyer, since district court has original and exclusive jurisdiction over all family law issues. I love my job, and I am a happy person because I was willing to be flexible. Had I not followed the path God led me down, I doubt that I would be a district court judge.

“Perhaps one day I will seek other positions or paths, but I believe that I am where the Lord wants me at this time. The most important lesson that I have learned as a judge is that I do not always have all the answers to every problem. That is one of the reasons that I ask God daily to give me the wisdom to make the right decisions. I continue to seek His guidance and wisdom each day.”

Learn More

Check out PCC’s humanities department for majors like prelaw, political science, professional writing, and more.