Demystifying “Pre-Law” in the US

Demystifying “Pre-Law” in the US

Although law school is a graduate program in the US, aspiring law students should understand how law school admissions work and what law schools care about as they enter undergrad to set themselves up for success. “Pre-law” is a term often thrown around, but it can often be confusing, and even counterproductive, if students focus too much on it, without understanding what really matters to law schools.

Breaking down law school admissions

Unlike medical schools, which require pre-med students to take a very specific set of courses, there are no pre-law courses or a pre-law major that students must, or even should, take to attend law school. In fact, law schools value diversity of backgrounds and experiences in their incoming classes: in their class profiles, schools highlight the variety of majors – even emphasizing the number of STEM majors – and life experiences that students possess. Law schools not only do not expect, but do not want, students to take law classes in undergrad. The skills that students acquire from a legal education are very unique, and law schools frankly do not think any undergraduate course or program is capable of substantively preparing students for law school.

Law is very interdisciplinary, and students who have expertise in other fields provide important insights as they study law. Furthermore, this expertise has tremendous value in real-world legal practice when advising clients from different industries and backgrounds. For example, a STEM major is extremely useful for patent law and working with biotechnology clients, and finance and accounting experience provides a great foundation for corporate law. These types of specialized knowledge make students very desirable and marketable in the legal industry, which is precisely why diversity of experience is important to law schools.

Therefore, pre-law and legal studies-type majors are not useful for law school admissions, and may even be viewed negatively. From a law school’s perspective, students from these majors do not possess expertise and insight from other fields, and the knowledge from their major is not useful as law school preparation because law schools do a better job of teaching law from the basics anyway.

Instead, to identify applicants who they think will be successful law students, law schools look for students who demonstrate intellectual and academic prowess in a challenging and rigorous program. Essentially, it does not matter what you study, but it should be something that allows you to develop strong analytical reasoning skills, the ability to digest dense text and apply complex concepts, and written and verbal communication skills. These are “soft” transferable skills that are all extremely important to succeed as a law student and a lawyer.

Factors to consider when picking your undergraduate school and major

  • Academics matter most. Attend a school with a reputation for strong academics and challenging programs and courses. Law schools look closely at your undergraduate transcript and want to see that you have taken a rigorous courseload.

  • Social science and humanities majors are the most popular. These majors provide great preparation for law school because they require lots of reading and writing, and classes are discussion-based, similar to law school, which employs the Socratic method of teaching. The subject matter – such as politics, economics, history and philosophy – is also very relevant and provides important context to the study of law.

  • But don’t feel limited by that! Do not feel that you must study social sciences or humanities to attend law school. Above all, you should pick a major that 1) you are genuinely interested in because, if you truly enjoy what you study, you will be more engaged in classes and develop better connections with professors, whose letters of recommendation are crucial for law school applications and 2) you will do well in because, ultimately, your undergraduate GPA (along with your LSAT score) is the most important factor in law school admissions. Also, as discussed above, law schools and employers value expertise from other fields. Of course, if you have a more unconventional major or background, you should be able to explain to law schools why you want to study law and demonstrate your interest in law outside of your coursework. 

  • Consider the school’s pre-law resources. Look for a school that has robust pre-law advising and opportunities for its undergraduate students. A good pre-law advising program is not only helpful when it comes time to prepare law school applications, but can connect students to internships, extracurricular activities and other law career exploration opportunities. 

Quantum Prep is an education consultancy that focuses on placing their students at the best colleges or universities. We boast of diverse results. In addition to the traditional rap sheet of prestigious university acceptances, our consultants like to highlight the different paths they have sent students on. All of our students are different; we are proud of our one-on-one tailored approach towards university counselling. Contact us for a complimentary 30-minute initial meeting, where you can get tailored individualized advice on how to put your best foot forward. Read our reviews to see what our clients think of us.

By Prudence Ng, Admissions Consultant

Published 17-04-2024

error: Content is protected !!

Sign Up For A Consultation

Just write down some details and we will heroes will get back to you shortly!