Prelaw at Dickinson – How to Prepare for Law School
Dickinson has a long history of sending its graduates to some of the most prestigious law schools in the nation. Law school admissions committees agree that the most appropriate and beneficial preparation for law school is a traditional liberal arts education combined with relevant extracurricular experiences. Coordinated by the Career Center, pre-law advising at Dickinson incorporates these elements in a comprehensive approach to pre-legal studies.
Pre-Law advising and preparation includes individual advising appointments and workshops. The Pre-Law Advisor, located in the Career Center, handles the advising for any student or alum interested in the study of law. The Pre-Law advisor helps students and alumni with their decision to go to law school, provides guidance in their school selection, and assists students and alumni in the completion of their applications. The law related workshops that are sponsored by the Career Center provide information on the law school application process and undergraduate pre-law preparation.
For more information contact the Pre-Law Advisor: Laura Kilko .
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.
Express yourself clearly, listen
Read and study
Learn new information
Solve problems, reason
Use good judgment
Write, write and write
Assemble and develop facts
Probe issues to find solutions
Read and think critically
Have staying power/persistence
What can you do academically to prepare?
Law schools look at your choice of majors and courses. 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.
ECON 100, Contemporary Economics or
ECON 111, Introduction 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 a 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
HIST117 & 118, American History
Law and Policy:
LAWP 248, The Judiciary
LAWP 255, Philosophy of Law
PHIL 102, Moral Reasoning (formerly PHIL 112-Ethics)
PHIL 103, Logic (a merger of what was formerly PHIL 120-Critical Reasoning and PHIL 121-Introductory Symbolic Logic)
POSC 120, American Government
POSC 220 & 221, Constitutional Law I, II
POSC 246, The Legislative Process
Take advantage of opportunities to participate in honors programs. Internships can be useful tools for career opportunities. Gain some familiarity with the basic concepts of economics, accounting, and government, and be sufficiently skilled in mathematics to comprehend statistical analysis.
American Mock Trial Association - The mock trial team competes at a regional and national level. This opportunity provides both an invaluable introduction to the litigation process and a practical venue for students to express their interest in law. To become involved, contact Professor Doug Edlin.
Following these suggestions while maintaining a strong, competitive grade point average will help you prepare for success in law school. Your goal is to make yourself competitive in a very large pool of applicants.
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