Choosing Undergraduate Courses
Similarly, there are no specifically required undergraduate courses for students planning to attend law school. However, taking certain courses will often be advantageous for preparing oneself for law school.
First, as noted in the following excerpt from the American Bar Association’s Statement on Prelaw Preparation, there are several skills and experiences that are essential to succeeding in law school and as an attorney:
“Core Skills, Values, Knowledge, and Experience
- Problem Solving
- Critical Reading
- Writing and Editing
- Oral Communication and Listening
- Organization and Management
- Public Service and Promotion of Justice
- Relationship-building and Collaboration
- Background Knowledge
- Exposure to the Law
There are important skills, values, knowledge, and experience that you can acquire prior to law school and that will provide a sound foundation for a legal education. If you wish to prepare adequately for a legal education, and for a career in law or for other professional service that involves the use of lawyering skills, you should seek educational, extra-curricular, and life experiences that will assist you in developing those attributes. . . . [I]f you begin law school having already acquired the foundation suggested in this Statement, you will have a significant advantage and will be well prepared to benefit fully from a challenging legal education.” http://www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_education/resources/pre_law.html
When deciding which courses to take, read course descriptions and, if possible, syllabi in an attempt to identify those particular courses that will be most helpful in improving the above skills and that will be of interest to you. Almost every discipline offers upper-level courses that will help prepare students well for law school. Law schools review transcripts carefully to see whether you earned good grades in challenging courses.
Second, taking courses related to law may help you make decisions about law school (e.g., whether or not to attend, which areas of specialization to consider) and will provide various perspectives on law. Such courses should not be viewed as prerequisites for law school; rather, they will help you determine where your interests lie and will place the study of law in wider context.
Third, pre-law students are strongly encouraged to do a law-related internship, preferably during their junior year. An internship is an excellent opportunity to see first-hand the law at work in society. Besides earning course credit, you can make connections during an internship, gain useful advice from practicing attorneys, and perhaps have an experience around which to craft your personal statement. The experience may also help you to identify a particular area of law in which you want to specialize.