Alumni Insights

Prelaw

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PCC’s Prelaw program gives students a solid foundation for law school and careers by providing a solid liberal arts education with superior academic standards. PCC graduates have been accepted into over 80 law schools, including 17 of the top 50 law schools (3 of the top 10) as ranked by US News & World Report.

Clinton Cagle Prelaw

Clinton Cagle (’99 grad)

  • Juris Doctorate: Florida A&M University College of Law
  • Partner in the Law Offices of Todd Long
  • 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

“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.”

Captian Patrick Callahan, PreLaw

Captain Patrick Callahan (’00 grad)

  • 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.”

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 (’94, Prelaw grad). “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 A Beka 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.”

Judge Wood has served on the bench 8 years, with hopes to begin a third term in 2011. April uses her maiden name professionally, and is married to attorney Jeffrey Berg; they have three children and live in North Carolina.

Teresa Dutton Prelaw

Teresa Dutton (’98 English Education grad)

  • 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.”

Nikki Mesnard, Prelaw

Nikki Mesnard (’03 grad)

  • 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.”

Nathan McKinney

Nathan McKinney (’99 grad)

  • Assistant Public Defender in the areas of criminal defense and traffic law at Durham County Public Defender’s Office
  • On the board of Justice Matters, a Christian, non-profit, pro-bono legal services organization
  • Juris Doctorate: North Carolina Central University School of Law

“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.”

Jason Engram

Jason Engram (’93 grad)
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.”

Laurel McDonald Prelaw

Laurel McDonald (’04 grad)
Master of Business Administration: Pensacola Christian College

“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 grad)
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.”

Karen Thomas Prelaw

Karen Thomas (’98 grad)

  • 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.”

Joshua Dunlap Prelaw grad

There is a great need for attorneys with Christian integrity to be a voice for righteousness,” said Joshua Dunlap (’05 grad). “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.” Joshua graduated first in his class from the University of Notre Dame Law School in ’08. 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.”

PCC’s prelaw program includes courses in American government, economics, tax accounting, criminal justice, debate, public speaking, and writing—all designed to give students the background to succeed in law school and be servant leaders who stand for righteousness in various legal professions. See Prelaw major for more information.