Considering Law School? Don't Miss These Tools & Tips for Pre-Law Students

Published Mar 29, 2010

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Preparing for a legal career can be a challenging process from the moment you decide to go to law school. Keep reading for crucial pre-law tips on everything from preparing for the LSAT to finding the right law school.

Indecisive Law Student

The Decision

Many people opt to pursue a legal career because they don't know what else to do. But the decision to enroll in law school means a commitment to several years of extremely demanding postgraduate education and, for most people, a significant amount of debt. It's therefore a good idea to take the time to be truly sure that law school is right for you. When you're considering this path, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do I find interesting about law school ?
  • What do I know about how law is practiced?
  • What kind of career am I envisioning?
  • How can a law degree help me pursue my goals?

If you don't know the answer to these questions, you might wish to consider interning in a law office or working as a volunteer at a nonprofit legal clinic. This will give you invaluable firsthand experience with the practice of law. If you're currently in college, take advantage of your school's alumni network and career services. Try to set up meetings with practicing attorneys and with people who may be using their law degrees to help them pursue other careers. (Interested in politics? A law degree is a great place to start.) It's also worthwhile to look into other law-related careers, such as becoming a paralegal or an investigator.

Preparing For Law School

5 Important Tips for Pre-Law Students

Now that you're certain law school is a good fit for you, it's time to think about the admissions process, even if you've still got a few years left as an undergraduate. Law schools can be very competitive, and the more preparation you have, the better your chances will be.

1. Become a Critical Thinker

The American Bar Association (ABA) does not endorse any specific major for pre-law students. Instead, they point to certain skills that should be developed during your undergraduate years, such as analytical problem solving, research and critical reading and writing. Other important skills include listening, oral communication, organization, management and an understanding of the importance of service to others and promotion of justice. In order to demonstrate those skills, the ABA recommends pursuing coursework in the following subjects:

  • Political Science
  • Economics
  • Math & Finance
  • History
  • Ethics
  • Comparative Analysis of Institutions & Cultures
  • Human Behavior

2. Keep Your Numbers Up

Law schools will tell you that every applicant means more than just a number, but it takes good numbers to even get your foot in the door. Pre-law students can't afford to slack off because GPA counts, and so do LSAT scores. Study hard for your LSAT and take the test early so you'll have time to retake it if necessary. It's also important not to take easy classes to pad your GPA - law school admissions offices will see right through that. Choose a challenging major, take demanding classes and study, study, study.

Law Student Getting to Know Her Counselor

3. Get to Know Your Professors

High test scores and good grades are important, but they won't make you stand out from the crowd. A glowing letter of recommendation can do a lot for an application, and the professors who know you well will write the most meaningful letters. Many students also benefit from seeking out a pre-law advisor. This professor or counselor can guide you through the application process and help you to learn more about law school and the legal profession.

4. Get Involved

Another important way to strengthen your application is to pursue extracurricular activities. Law schools aren't just looking for good students, they're looking for those who are involved in their communities and are prepared to become leaders. Look into student government, active volunteer opportunities or legal internships. Not only will these things look good on a resume, they'll give you a great hook for your personal essay.

5. Broaden Your Horizons

Law schools are looking to diversify their student bodies, and it can be hard to pin down just what makes one person stand out. Consider taking a year off between graduating college and applying for law school so you can use the time to pursue something that can show the admissions office your unique strengths. It may also be a good ideal to apply to several schools in different locations - many law schools try to include students from diverse regional backgrounds.

Tip: Not sure where to apply? Check out the Boston College Law School Locator, which lists the 25th to 75th percentile GPA ranges and LSAT scores of first year students at law schools around the country. This tool will help you find schools where scores fall in the top half of the range, which is defined as your 'competitive area.'

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