Similar to other disciplines, there is no single path that will prepare you the best for law school. Instead, the best route is entirely up to the individual. Some individuals pursuing law school will come straight out of their undergraduate studies, while others will have gathered life experience before returning to school. For some, undergraduate coursework in pre-law will pave their paths and others may have undergraduate background in fields not traditionally associated with law preparation. Regardless of your background, law school values diversity and the individual journey that will influence classroom ideas and approaches.
What Type of Undergraduate Experience is Most Valuable?
According to the American Bar Association, there is no recommended undergraduate major or coursework to prepare for legal education. Among the most important facets of preparation is exposure to a diversity of difficult and demanding courses. For those looking to pursue majors closely associated with traditional law school preparation, some majors include English, political science, philosophy, history, or business. While these majors appear most common, other disciplines such as music, science, engineering, education, etc., can all satisfy preparatory steps by providing interdisciplinary studies.
Experience & Core Skills
Regardless of which undergraduate major you pursue, it is important to build a foundation that will supplement your legal education. Law schools seek students who are able to think critically, listen and communicate efficiently, and problem solve. In addition to this, students are expected to have critical reading and analysis skills, as well as writing and editing aptitude.
As with any graduate education, the ability to conduct research techniques and perform proper literary analysis is crucial to success. Organization and time management also proves important in performance and effectiveness.
While it is not required that individuals preparing for law school be completely versed in all aspects of the law, it is important that prospective students have some basic background knowledge regarding legal history and political thought. Though you do not have to be an expert in the law prior to attending law school—as the whole point of law school is to hone these skills, not have already perfected them—it is valuable to have some exposure to the law and legal profession before enrolling. Not only does this knowledge provide a stable foundation for you to build upon, it also provides a more realistic glimpse into the practice of law, allowing you to seriously consider if law school is the appropriate path for you.
Mentor or Advisor
For students seeking to pursue law school early in their academic career, undergraduate institutions may assign a Pre-Law mentor or advisor. These advisors provide insight and exposure to the law, as well as help further the law school application process.
Just as other forms of education, law school is an investment. How you will pay for law school is an important consideration. Can you afford to take on federal and private loans? Do you have access to scholarship or loan repayment options? It’s important to remain up-to-date with financial aid trends and regulations to ensure pursuing law school is a sound financial investment for you.
Regardless of where you begin in your preparation for law school, it’s important to expose yourself to legal education expectations. Whether you’ve already begun honing your skills, or plan to begin setting down a foundation, law school welcomes diverse and driven individuals.