Before you can go to law school, you must complete your undergraduate degree. Many incoming first-year college students look for undergraduate degrees related to law. However, they will not find them in the course catalog.
A few colleges might offer pre-law courses of study, but most do not. Law is one of the few advanced degree programs that does not require students to follow a specific course of study to enter the program.
However, your choice of an undergraduate program can impact your acceptance to law school and your future as a lawyer. Therefore, careful consideration must be given to your choice of an undergraduate degree.
Tips for Choosing an Undergraduate Program to Prepare for Law School
When choosing your undergraduate program, it can help to know what you will need when you are ready to apply to law school.
Grade Point Average (GPA) and Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)
Your GPA and LSAT scores are the two most important factors a law school considers in reviewing applications for admission. Choosing an undergraduate program you enjoy can help you work more diligently toward a higher GPA.
However, some law schools consider your GPA in relation to the difficulty of your undergraduate courses. Therefore, a 4.0 in a program with the least challenging coursework may not be viewed as well as a 3.5 for a degree in one of the more challenging undergraduate programs offered by your school.
Preparing to Take the LSAT
Students prepare for months to take the LSAT. The four-section test covers reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, logical reasoning, and writing ability. Choosing an undergraduate degree that focuses on teaching you these skills can help you prepare for the LSAT.
Preparing for Law School
Law school is intense. Students spend many hours reading, analyzing, and comprehending complex material.
Reading comprehension is essential for success in law school. Also, most courses have one to two written exams, so writing skills are also required to succeed in law school.
There are a number of undergraduate degrees you might want to consider that could prepare you for law school.
Degrees in English teach you how to write concise, thorough summaries and to justify your ideas. These disciplines also build your reading and comprehension skills.
Many law students major in political science for their undergraduate work. Studying political science gives you a better understanding of the American political systems, including early and modern political theories. Political science majors learn how to research and analyze cases and laws and debate their positions on a variety of political subjects and legal arguments.
Some students choose to major in criminal justice for their undergraduate courses. If you want to focus your legal practice in criminal law, this path may be beneficial during law school and after receiving your law degree. You learn about criminal law and the criminal justice system while developing your research, analytical, and critical thinking skills.
A business major is another popular undergraduate degree that many students choose when planning to go to law school. Course work teaches management, communication, and leadership skills.
A business major can be beneficial for students interested in focusing on corporate law, bankruptcy law, or entertainment law. Having a business degree also gives students the skills and knowledge necessary to open their own law firm.
Philosophy might not be the first choice for many students, but it is an undergraduate program that many law schools value. Students who are philosophy majors learn how to consider various viewpoints before arriving at an opinion. They analyze facts and conduct research to uncover evidence to support their positions.
The process of considering other viewpoints and focusing on critical details allows students to base their arguments on context and facts, which are useful skills for trial attorneys.
History is a popular undergraduate degree for law students. As part of the history coursework, students learn how the American legal system was developed. They also learn how it has evolved into our judicial system today.
Students learn about the significant events in history that impacted our legal system, including landmark court decisions and the development of political parties. History majors generally have strong reading and writing skills, which benefit law students.
What is the Bottom Line?
Whatever undergraduate program you choose before law school should be a course of study that interests you. If you are not interested in the subject, you are less likely to do well and have a high GPA when you obtain your four-year degree.
If you are unsure about choosing an undergraduate program, meet with your advisors. You may also want to talk to some attorneys who practice in the areas of law that interest you to gain their insight and opinion about undergraduate studies.