The Juris Doctor is a generalists degree. The American Bar Association suggests that undergraduate students prepare themselves for law school by pursuing a comprehensive liberal arts education. Students should have a broad understanding of history, including the social, political, economic and cultural factors that have influenced the development of the U.S., a basic understanding of modern political thought, a general understanding of human behavior and social interactions, basic mathematical skills and an understanding of and respect for cultural diversity.
Traditional preparation includes majors in the humanities, business and, often, political science. However, it doesn't really matter which major you choose; students from non-traditional programs such as art, mathematics, science, computer science and education can and do go to law school as well. Law schools are not particularly interested in what you studied in college, but they are interested in an outstanding academic record. Therefore, you should select a major that interests and challenges you and focus your efforts on performing well in demanding classes. Regardless of major, the following skills are essential to success in law school: analytical and problem-solving skills, critical reading, writing, oral communication and listening skills, general research, task organization, time management and team work.
Activities, internships, work and volunteer experience are also important, but they do not have to be directly related to law. Early in your college career sample broadly; then choose a few areas on which to focus your attention. Become an active member of the organizations to which you commit; assume responsibilities; work toward leadership positions in the areas you choose. Participation in public interest programs, practical experiences and research projects will all help you make you've die if law school is right for you, and they will assist in developing your skills and demonstrate an engaged, problem-solving attitude that sought by law schools and employers alike.
The law school application process includes a series of steps and procedures, including preparation for and completion of the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), establishing an account at the Law School Admissions Council, preparation of individual applications, developing a personal statement, preparation of a resume and securing letters of recommendation. A detailed schedule of these steps can be found at the LSAC website.
If you are even thinking about law school, you should begin planning early. You should meet with the pre-law advisor by the middle of your sophomore year. It is not necessary that you know what type of law you want to practice, or even that you are sure you want to practice at all (lawyers work in government, business, administration, education, nonprofits, etc.) at this point. But it is important that you begin thinking about where you want to go to school, what types of programs are interesting to you, and how you can set yourself apart from other applicants. It is also important that you begin preparing for the LSAT. You should plan on taking the LSAT once, preferably in June following your junior year. Law school applications should be completed prior to Thanksgiving of your senior year. Many schools use a rolling admissions process and the earlier your application is submitted the better.
For more information on pre-law advising, please contact Prof. Lisa Walton.