Pre-Law Programs – Paths to Law School
Whether you are just finishing high school, in the midst of taking your undergraduate degree or have been out of university for years, the path to law school may seem daunting. But do not disqualify yourself just because you are not the same age or do not have the same specific interests as others that are applying or are currently in law school.
Lawyer Nathaniel Burney says law school is not for everybody, but for those who are meant to take a law degree and become a lawyer, it is extremely fulfilling. “for those who belong here, the law is a wonderful place to be,” writes Burney on “The Criminal Lawyer” blog. “It challenges the intellect, inspires ideas, and gives you a chance to really make a difference.”
Did You Know?
“Students who are successful in law school, and who become accomplished professionals, come from many walks of life and educational backgrounds. Some law students enter law school directly from their undergraduate studies without having had any post baccalaureate work experience. Others begin their legal education significantly later in life, and they bring to their law school education the insights and perspectives gained from their life experiences” – LSAC (Law School Admission, Council).
You don’t necessarily have to have the career aspiration to become a lawyer. Others who graduate with a law degree go into a variety of careers, such as an FBI agent, mediator, human rights administrator, contract negotiator, legal analyst, parole officer, criminal investigator, law enforcement specialist, law school professor, energy efficiency officer, policy analyst, international relations officer, intelligence officer and many more. If you have the desire to serve others and believe in the value of justice, plus have the drive to continuously enhance key skills (communication, critical thinking, analysis, research and management/organization) then you may have exactly what it takes to get into law school, complete your law degree and go on to a successful career.
Pre-Law Degree Options
However, “students are admitted to law school from almost every academic discipline,” states the LSAC (Law School Admission Council, Inc.). Since law schools do not require prospective students to complete a specific major, it is important to select a course of study that you are truly interested in. If it is a subject you are passionate in, this will be reflected by a higher GPA, which will help increase your chances of being admitted into law school. Don’t rush to select your major during your first year. (Talk to academic/prelaw advisors at your institution to find out the deadline for selecting a major). In your first year, take courses from several different disciplines to find out what fascinates you. “Law schools do not prefer any major course of study over another,” says Indiana University Bloomington’s Health Professions and Prelaw Center. “In fact, because law schools seek broad diversity in their classes, having an unusual major can be to your advantage.”
As long as you are challenging yourself and working towards developing the following skills, you should be on the right track:
- Critical reading
- Problem solving/Analytical thinking
- Oral communication
- Serving Others
- Promoting Justice
Prelaw Services & Experiences
Take advantage of the numerous prelaw services while completing your undergraduate degree. Many educational institutes have prelaw advisors that you can meet with for guidance. Even if you are no longer attending the university where you completed your undergraduate degree, many schools will still offer prelaw advising to their alumni. You also might want to get in touch with the LSAC (http://www.lsac.org) for support, advice and resources.
It is also very important to get involved with extra-curricular activities either on campus or in the community. Find out if there is a prelaw or mock trial club at your school and join. Or join other clubs and become actively involved. Law schools will look favorably on leadership roles, whether it’s organizing a community fundraiser or being on the university’s student council.
Preparing for the LSAT
To be considered for law school, along with completing an undergraduate degree, you must complete the LSAT (Law School Admission Test). The LSAT takes approximately half a day to write and includes five multiple choice sections. (Only four of the LSAT sections are considered for the overall test score).
It is important to start preparing for the LSAT months in advance so that you are confident on test day. LSAC has several sample questions and copies of past tests for you to review. You can also purchase more comprehensive prep guides or even complete LSAT preparation courses (numerous are offered online).