1780 – The Official Blog of Transylvania University

1780 | The Official Blog of Transylvania University

Federal judge helping Transylvania students prep for rigors of law school

people in a classroom

Starting law school can be rough.

But this fall, Transylvania University students have an actual federal judge teaching them how to survive it.

Magistrate Judge Matthew A. Stinnett, a 2002 graduate, has returned to his alma mater to lead an Introduction to Legal Skills course on the study and practice of law.

Transylvania, which recently launched a Pre-Law Society with Stinnett serving on the Advisory Board, already does a good job getting students into law school: 100% of those recommended are accepted. Now they have another resource to succeed once they’re there.

“My goal with this class was to specifically address the curriculum and education they receive at law school and get Transy students ready for that,” Stinnett said. “Law school has its own culture, rigors, and academic requirements.” 

He stressed how important it is to come in fully prepared with the right skill sets. “Your success or failure in law school takes place in your first semester,” he said.

And then once they’re ready to launch their legal careers, they’ll have an edge because Stinnett is teaching them what employers in the field are looking for in job candidates.

Additionally, his students are getting familiar with things like the vocabulary of the profession and how courts have handled specific cases.

It’s the first class Stinnett has taught at Transylvania — he will also be an instructor at the University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law next semester, teaching a litigation skills class. 

Stinnett said it was a little intimidating last month when he walked into the Carpenter Academic Center (he remembers it as Haupt Humanities) and saw his former professors who are now colleagues.

As a student, he was a history major and William T. Young Scholar. The school is also where he met his wife, Tonya Jernigan, a 2005 graduate who serves on the Alumni Board.

“I love Transylvania,” said Stinnett, one of three federal judges serving the Eastern District of Kentucky who are alumni. “I think Transylvania provides a phenomenal education for a legal career as demonstrated by having three current federal judges here in the Eastern District of Kentucky as well as others around the country.”