There is no specific curriculum of undergraduate courses that will guarantee success in law school, or admission to law school. Successful law students come from a variety of undergraduate majors including political science, English, history, philosophy, criminal justice, sociology, and accounting. However, in choosing classes and majors or minors, you need to keep two things in mind: first, law school admissions committees do look at the types of courses you have taken in terms of their depth and level of difficulty, and second, you need to take courses that will hone the kinds of abilities and skills you will need to get admitted to, and success in, the law school of your choice.
These include ability to engage in analytical and logical reasoning; excellent reading, writing, research, and speaking skills: and broad knowledge of studies that have a bearing on the law. The Political Science Department endeavors to offer advanced courses that will assist you in developing such high-level preparation. In addition, its Pre-Law Track includes pre-professional courses that will enable you to "test" your interest in the study of law, as well as a thoughtful selection of classes from other majors.
Law schools are looking for students who have the requisite ability
and commitment to graduate. Most will look at (in descending order of
- Your score on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) - required by all accredited law schools, and primarily an examination of your logical/analytical reasoning and your reading comprehension;
- Your academic transcript (grades and kinds of classes taken);
- The quality of application, especially your personal statement
- And other indications of probable future success in the legal profession (e.g. extracurricular activities, work experience).
The best time is probably in June just after the completion of your
junior year. (LSATs are also offered in October, December, and February.) An acceptable score on the June test maximizes your chances of early consideration by the law schools you apply to.
Caution: June is not your best time if you are unprepared!! In order to maximize your law school options, you need to score as high on the LSAT as you are capable!
- We recommend at least six weeks of intensive preparation, either through self-paced study or by taking an LSAT preparation class.
- No later than the beginning of your junior year, you need to pick up from a faculty member your (free) copy of the LSAT & LSDAD Registration and Information Book.
There is no set answer - a lot depends on your learning style, and the amount you want to spend. Consult with faculty, and especially with students who have already taken the LSAT. You can take LSAT practice tests online if you would like.
Since some law schools average your scores, we advise taking the tine to prepare on the first round.
An obvious consideration in selecting law schools is the likelihood of your acceptance - schools vary considerably in their selectivity.
Many schools publish grids that reflect the GPAs and LSAT scores of students who apply as compared to those who are accepted. These are available in The Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools, published by the Law School Admissions Council.
Bear in mind, however, that the grids are only guides - you might be admitted if you don't "fit" the grid, or might not be if you do. It's best to apply to more than one school - consider applying to at least one school where you are likely to be accepted, and one or more schools where there is a chance of your being admitted.
- Accreditation by the American Bar Association (ABA) is a sign of at least minimum acceptable quality.
- Geographic location: Pick an environment where you will be happy!
- Financial assistance: How much, and what kinds is available.
- Prestige of the School: Based on many factors including past reputation, faculty caliber, its physical plant, and the success of graduates in passing bar examinations. Published rankings of law schools are not reliable; instead you should talk to people who are knowledgeable about the legal profession.
- Curriculum: You will find that law school curricula for the first two years vary little from school to school; all schools give you a general overview of the law. However, your third year allows for specialization, and law schools differ in what they offer with regard to particular specializations (e.g. environmental law, international law).
- Faculty: Things to look for include faculty-to-student-ratios (the smaller the ratio, the more likely faculty will be accessible), and their professional experience (e.g. how much practical experience have they had, academic degrees, publications).
- The fit between your "personality" and the school's: Do you want to learn in a very competitive atmosphere (more likely at the most prestigious institutions) or in a more "friendly" and caring one? Again, visit the campus, and talk to current students!
The assistance of the P.A.D. Pre-Law Manual, published by the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity International, in preparing these guidelines, is hereby acknowledged.