September 7, 2018

How to Choose a Pre-Law Major

Dreaming of going to law school? Here's how to pick a major for law school. The best pre-law majors. What major is required for law school. What major helps you get in to law school. Degree requirements for law school. Choosing a major for law school. Best college major for pre-law. Which major to choose for law school. Popular pre law majors. law school advice. law school tips. law school blog. law student blogger. |

Hello, hello everyone! Today's post is for those of y'all who are still in college and are starting to think about going to law school. A lot of future law students aren't quite sure what to major in, so I thought now would be a great time for this post since the school year has just started as it's not to late to change your major. 

Related: Should you go to law school?

The good news for you is that unlike most other post-grad paths, there's no official major required to get in to law school! I remember way back when I was pre-med when my guidance counselor handed me a list of requirements to get in to med school and there were so many biology classes, chem classes, and other science-heavy classes that I had to take to apply to med school. But with law school, not only is any particular major required, there's no one class that is required! 

The bad news is that this leaves you with limitless opportunities to choose a "pre law" major, and sometimes that can be overwhelming. Here's just a few things you can consider when choosing the right major for you.

Choose a relatively easy major

While engineering students are statistically the top-scorerers on the LSAT, don't just choose the hardest major out there. First off, it's hard for an ad comm committee to weight all the different majors so don't just pick a major to sound impressive or smart. Ad comms pay way more attention to your GPA and a solid GPA can be the difference between being waitlisted or accepted in the first round, and for sure comes in to play when scholarships are being awarded. 

You'll also want a major that's light enough to give you time to be involved on campus so you can build up your resume and will later allow you the flexibility to study for the LSAT. Most importantly, don't kill yourself for 4 years if you don't have to. Choose a major that you are actually interested in and it will be so much easier for you than trying to stick it out in a major that you think you should have. However, don't just choose the absolute easiest major you can find because remember, if you end up not liking law school then this will be your fallback plan.

Choose a major that can challenge you 

Okay this is the exact opposite of what I just said, but hear me out. A too-easy major will set you up for failure. Not only are the "easy" majors known for getting low LSAT scores, they also don't prepare you for how to research for and write a 25-page paper and sound intelligent or how to read 150 pages in one night. So while you don't want to pick the hardest major, also don't pick the easiest option either or else you probably won't be as prepared for law school as you should be.

Like I mentioned, ideally you're going to want to improve on your reading, writing, and researching skills. You'll also want something that will help you improve your analytical skills, because that's the main part of being a lawyer. But just overall, look for a major that will better you. If you go to college for 4 years and you haven't improved much from when you graduated law school, you're going to start off behind your classmates who have been learning how to face challenging classes.

Choose a major that interests you

This is my most important piece of advice when choosing a pre-law major! Don't just pick a major because you think you should pick it because I'm betting you'll regret it. Remember what I've already mentioned how you'll do better in a major that you like because you'll want to put more effort in. Also, don't forget that almost every interview you go to for the first few years of your legal journey will ask you why you picked your major. "I'm passionate about X" is a much better answer than "I heard X would get me in to law school." 

It also wouldn't be a terrible idea to use your major as a preview of what kind of lawyer you want to be. If you're dead set in being a lawyer like Law & Order SVU, maybe taking a criminal justice class or two will help you decide if this is what you expected it to be. A business class could help you determine whether being an in-house counselor is for you or not. Remember there's no ideal pre-law major, so have fun deciding what to do for 4 years.

Stereotypical pre-law majors

First off, just know that a great majority of schools don't even have a "pre law" major, so don't automatically have that as your plan since it's likely not even offered at your school. Even if it is offered, don't just assume that you have to pick that major. What if your senior year you tour law schools and realize that law school is definitely not for you? What are you going to do after graduation if you're a pre-law major who isn't going to law school?? 

Another cliché of a pre-law major is political science. Trust me, polisci was one of my minors because I wanted to go to law school and for the most part it was more of a waste than a help. See polisci classes tend to lean pretty heavily on the legislative side or (shocker!) politics; yet law school classes tend to lean pretty heavily on the judicial side. So there's actually not as much overlap as you'd anticipate. Unless you would like a future in political campaigns or being on the legislature, it's probably not the best use of your time.

Philosophy actually isn't a terrible pre-law major. I also minored in pre-law which required me to take several philosophy classes, and I think they helped. Philosophy gets you to think big picture and be okay with gray spaces and no right answers, which is what a lot of law school is. And logic, a philosophy/math class, actually helps you with what's on the LSAT. But if you pick this major, just don't be that one annoying kid in class who tries to get too philosophical with your law school professor and be a total douche.

English/Foreign languages isn't too bad, in my opinion either. Getting used to doing a lot of reading and properly putting a sentence together is basically what your 1L year is all about, so this actually does set you up for success. I was a Spanish major and I felt it helped me because sometimes your casebook might as well be in a foreign language because you have no clue what half the words mean and have to spend so much time reading slowly and looking up words. 

History is another pretty decent major because again you are doing a lot of reading and writing and, just like law school, there's a lot of little details like dates and places to remember. And while most of history is pretty exciting, it can get a little boring sometimes. Law school cases are usually exciting but sometimes you have to bribe yourself to get through the readings.

STEM majors are becoming super popular pre-law majors because they help you stand out from the English/philosophy and polisci majors, they almost always score really high on the LSAT, and a STEM background opens up some money-making doors in specialized, technical legal fields. Just make sure you're up for this because STEM majors are notoriously hard and you don't want to pick this for the wrong reasons and end up struggling for 4 years just to end up with a meh GPA.

Criminal justice is one major that I've seen warnings over and over again to not major in. This major tends to score the lowest on the LSAT, on average, and tend to have lower acceptance rates. I think it's because it's preparing you for a different area of the law so you're not getting prepared how you need to be. Don't think you have to be in criminal justice if you want to be a prosecutor or public defender. You're better off choosing a different major and then getting first-hand experience by volunteering or interning with a judge.

Personally if I could do it all over again, I wish I would've been a business or HR major because a lot of it applies to being a lawyer! Most people have a goal of being a partner in a law firm, which means you'll be involved in running a business. Some people have a goal of opening their own firm, which means you'll have to start your own business. And a lot of people have a goal of working for a company, which means your job is to keep the business going. There's just been some instances where I wish I would've known a little more about business/HR matters and I think it's a good fallback major.

If you have an idea of what kind of law you're interested in practicing in, my school has an interactive page where you choose that area of law and it suggests relevant majors. It also has a list of what schools have programs for that kind of law with links to them so you can do some more research on choosing a law school. Here's the link for that.

Related: How to choose a law school

Remember that you can also minor in something that will help you on your path to law school! You know how there's contrasting colors? Try to choose contrasting majors and minors so you're a well-rounded applicant. If you want to be an English major improving on your reading/writing skills, try minoring in something like STEM  hat will have you improving on your analytical skills; if you're a economics major, try to take an communications class. Feel free to mix and match to get the right combo for you of good grades yet preparing you for your future.

Lastly, try to take some business writing classes! I took 2 in undergrad so I already knew how to write a professional memo. Sure it wasn't exactly a legal memo and I did have to learn a few things, but starting off my 1L year in my legal writing class I was already ahead of most of my classmates because I already knew the fundamentals. This meant that I wasn't stressing out trying to re-learn how to write a fake email and instead could focus on other classes. And in my opinion, legal writing is one of the easiest classes to prepare for before law school.

I'd love to know what y'all majored/minored in and whether you think that helped you get in or do well in law school! Let me know in the comments below :) 

let's be friends!



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