Should I Pursue Pre-Law as an Undergrad?

Should I Pursue Pre-Law as an Undergrad?

Unlike other areas of study, such as medicine, law schools do not expect applicants to have completed courses in specific fields—there is no “pre-law major.” This means you have a lot of freedom to design an undergraduate academic experience that works for you! This freedom might feel a bit intimidating at first, so here are a few tips to help structure your course of study:

Take challenging courses… Law schools will want to see that you pushed yourself. Be wary of enrolling in several versions of “Introduction to ” during your college career. This is similar to the college application process, where colleges wanted to see that you took advantage of Honors or Advanced Placement classes if they were offered at your high school.

…but not so challenging that your undergraduate GPA suffers. For better or worse, law schools place substantial weight on applicants’ GPAs and LSAT scores. If you have been eyeing an elective that sounds fascinating but has a reputation for being very difficult, consider taking it Pass/Fail.

Focus on skills, not fields. You do not need to major in political science or history to learn to think logically, even if many other students applying to law school choose these majors. Courses in philosophy, computer science, math, and many other fields can also help you engage in analytical reasoning and craft well-structured arguments.

Practice the types of academic activities emphasized in law school. You will be reading A LOT in law school, and these reading materials will often be quite dense. Usually these materials will be provided to you in casebooks, but for some assignments you will need to do your own research. Become comfortable spending hours sifting through and synthesizing complex materials. Even if you choose not to write an undergraduate thesis, you should still take advantage of opportunities to conduct independent research. You will also be writing a lot in law school, and the organization of ideas and clarity of expression in your writing will be very important. Think of college humanities courses as opportunities to become a better writer.

Take courses taught by professors whose views do not align with your own, or who will expect you to defend a position with which you do not agree. Disagreeing respectfully in an academic setting will be good training for the work you will do as a lawyer.

Take courses that interest you and expose you to new ideas. Law is everywhere! Think about how many laws went into the creation and assembly of the ingredients of your most recent meal, or the clothing you’re wearing, or the transportation you used to get where you are…Any course you take may inspire you to investigate a legal issue that could turn into a research paper or internship. Although you do not need to present law-related experiences on your resume to be a strong applicant, recognizing the broad impact of law and developing informed views can help you start “thinking like a lawyer” before you even begin law school!

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Hillary Gell

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