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Pre-Law: 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, athletics, volunteerism, etc. As you gain—or enhance—these skills, think about how to articulate them to an admissions committee and through your law school application, resume, and 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? 

Admissions 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 coursework. Work with your advisor 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, 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.   

Recommended courses

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 essentials such as case study methods, legal research, briefing a case and outlining and analyzing facts, issues, arguments and decisions, etc.

  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 220 (Intro. to Literary Studies), ENGL 212 (Workshop in Writing)

Any literature courses offered by the department would also be helpful.
History HIST 117 & HIST 118 (American History)
Law & Policy LAWP 210 (Legal Ethics), LAWP 240 (Crimincal Procedure), LAWP 248 (The Judiciary), LAWP 250 (Juvenile Justice), LAWP 255 (Philosophy of Law) and LAWP 260 (Problem-Solving Courts)
Political Science POSC 120 (American Government), POSC 220 & 221 (Constitutional Law I & II), POSC 234 (Gender and Justice) and POSC 246 (The Legislative Process)
Philosophy PHIL 101 (Intro to Philosophy), 102 (Intro to Ethics) and PHIL 103 (Logic)