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The Breakdown

You salivate just hearing the word “litigator.” Your heart races when the phrase “mergers and acquisitions” is uttered. You have a recurring dream of passionately arguing a wrongful imprisonment suit in front of the Supreme Court. You possess the singular talent of being able to engage in a debate about any topic, anytime, anywhere. The bottom line is that you know you are destined for a legal career. And college is the first step in the long march to your J.D. So, what do you study? The short answer – anything you want.

Unlike medical school, law schools do not have any pre-requisites. There is no class (or major) that will specifically or uniquely prepare you for the rigors of law school or the LSAT. You will find students with (nearly) every conceivable academic or professional background at law school. And law school admissions committees like it that way. Indeed, they greatly value diversity.

Though on rare occasion you might be able to find a pre-law program tucked within a political science department, the vast majority of universities will not offer that as a major. Moreover, rather than focus on the “perfect” course of study that you think will guarantee you entry, you should aim to major in a subject you’re passionate about. After all, your undergraduate GPA will factor heavily into your law school admissions decisions. It’s far better to select a discipline you are excited about and can excel at versus struggle with a major you hope will impress.

Of course, it’s quite common for undergraduates who are pre-law to study a subject within the humanities or social sciences. Both political science and history are quite customary for law school hopefuls, with English, philosophy and economics not far behind. These disciplines will all teach you how to think critically and communicate effectively. Additionally, they will strengthen your research, writing and analytical skills, all of which are vital for a successful legal career.

You may have already given some thought as to what type of law you’d want to practice (of course, it’s perfectly fine if you haven’t). If that’s the case, it might make sense to choose a major that corresponds. For example, if you are certain you want to pursue environmental law you should think about studying ecology or environmental science. Not only will this give you a strong foundation to build upon, it will also demonstrate a continued interest and enthusiasm in the field (something law school admissions officers are bound to notice).

While not many schools offer pre-law as a course of study, some colleges have established pre-law advising programs. These programs often prove invaluable to students, from helping to determine whether or not law school is the right move to walking undergrads through the application process. They will likely keep you abreast of important dates, internship opportunities and pinpoint target law schools for you. Further, many will provide feedback and advice on your application essays and some even offer LSAT prep.

It’s important to remember that there is more than one route to law school. After all, the law is a complex and varied field and one that benefits from a variety of perspectives. As with all pursuits, academic or otherwise, as long as you approach the process with passion, hard work and perseverance you will be successful.


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Don Munce