Preparing for Law School
What SKILLS do you need to succeed in law school?
The following skills will serve you well as a law student and as a professional. They can be acquired through academic coursework, independent study, internships, extracurricular activities, summer jobs, Greek organizations, athletics, volunteerism, etc. As you gain – or enhance – these skills, think about how to articulate them to an admissions committee, through your law school application, resume and/or personal statement.
|Debate||Assemble and develop facts||Express yourself clearly|
|Listen||Probe issues to find solutions||Read and study|
|Conduct interviews||Learn new information||Think critically|
|Solve problems, reason||Have persistence||Use good judgement|
|Organize tasks||Think logically||Write, write and write|
What can you do ACADEMICALLY to prepare?
Admission committees estimate the degree of difficulty of majors and pay particular attention to the array of courses you have selected. They will review all of your transcripts to determine whether you have consciously selected challenging course work. Work with your adviser to build a diverse curriculum that will help you meet the following goals:
- Learn to write and speak clearly and effectively. Choose courses that emphasize skills in argumentation, rhetoric, presentational speaking, forensics, and logical reasoning.
- Achieve depth in one or more fields of knowledge - do not choose diversity at the expense of depth.
- Develop an understanding of the moral and ethical problems of our time. These topics are addressed in any number of courses in sociology, philosophy, political science, Africana studies, women's studies, anthropology, science, etc.
- Develop an appreciation of other cultures and times. Take advantage of diverse course topics: comparative literature, history, medieval studies, political science, English literature, and foreign languages and literature. Don't be afraid to explore!
- Develop a critical approach to the ways in which we gain and apply knowledge in the areas of literature, art, history, math, and the physical and biological sciences.
Law schools do not have a preferred undergraduate major, so the courses listed below are a compilation of classes designed to introduce students to the skills and issues related to the study of law. Students may wish to use some of these courses as distribution requirements or as electives to strengthen their preparation for law school.
While undergraduate law courses may be useful in familiarizing you with the language of the law and some basic legal concepts, law school admission committees do not give preference to applicants who have taken such courses. The first year of law school provides training in the essentials such as case study methods, legal research, briefing a case, and outlining and analyzing facts, issues, arguments, and decisions, etc.
|Economics||ECON 100 (Contemporary Economics) or ECON 111 (Intro. to Microeconomics)|
|English||Students should take several writing intensive courses to refine their writing, research, and argument-formation skills. Writing intensive courses can be found in most departments in addition to those found in the English department.
ENGL 212 (Writing: Special Topics), ENGL 220 (Critical Approaches)
Any literature courses offered by the department would also be helpful.
|History||HIST 117 & HIST 118 (American History)|
|Law & Policy||LAWP 248 (The Judiciary) and LAWP 255 (Philosophy of Law)|
|Political Science||POSC 120 (American Government), POSC 220 & 221 (Constitutional Law I & II) and POSC 246 (The Legislative Process)|
|Philosophy||PHIL 102 (Moral Reasoning) and PHIL 103 (Logic)|