Pre-Law Studies in the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters

What is pre-law? Is there a best route to getting into law school and doing well in a legal career?

Courses of Study. Most universities and colleges have pre-law majors, programs, or lists of recommended classes that are described as appropriate courses of study for students who are interested in attending law school. However, it is hard to define pre-law as a formal course of study because there are so many different paths to law school.

There are many undergraduate majors, programs, or tracks that can prepare a person for law school. Law school admission officers, the Law School Admission Council, the Association of Pre-law Advisors, and the American Bar Association do not identify specific majors or courses of study as pre-law majors. They recommend that students who are interested in law school choose an undergraduate course of study that develops the academic skills that are measured on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), prepares a person for the study of law, and develops the professional skills essential to the successful practice of law.

It is not necessary to take law-related courses in order to do well on the Law School Admission Test or succeed in law school. In fact, law school admissions officers advise against taking only law-related courses as an undergraduate because law school professors will "teach you to think like a lawyer" once in law school. Some majors develop the academic skills that are measured on the LSAT better than other majors, but there is no single undergraduate path to law school.

B. American Bar Association Recommendations. The following is an excerpt from the Pre-law Committee of the ABA Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar:

Students who are successful in law school, and who become accomplished attorneys or use their legal education successfully in other areas of professional life, come to their legal education from widely differing educational and experiential backgrounds. As undergraduate students, some have majored in subjects that are traditionally considered paths to law school, such as history, English, philosophy, political science, economics, or business. Other successful law students, however, have focused their undergraduate studies in areas as diverse as art, music theory, computer science, engineering, nursing, or education. Many law students enter law school directly from their undergraduate studies and without having had any substantial work experience. Others begin their legal education significantly later in life, and they bring to their school education the insights and perspectives gained from those life experiences. Thus the ABA does not recommend any particular group of undergraduate majors or courses that should be taken by those wishing to prepare for legal education...

Students from every major in the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters have gone on to careers in law. Several departments (English, History, Philosophy, Political Science, Philosophy) explicitly focus on the connection between their majors and the skills needed to succeed in a legal career. The College also offers a certificate in Ethics, Law and Society.