By Lynn Galowich Page, JD, Assistant Director, Student Career Advising, serving students in the School of Education and Social Policy (SESP); Northwestern’s pre-law adviser
I inevitably have a fair amount of pre law appointments that start with, “I think I want to go to law school and pursue a career in law but I am not sure what I need to major in or do to prepare.” In fact, many upper class students who have decided to pivot from something else and now explore law think they are too late to pursue law school. They believe they missed taking some prescribed undergraduate pre law requirements. Great news for all of these students: unlike medicine or some other career paths, there are not any specific requirements or major needed to apply for law school.
According to the American Bar Association (ABA):
Being “pre law” does not denote a student’s major or program of study; instead, being prelaw identifies a student’s educational goal. Students are surprised to find out that there is no particular suggested major, nor are there any specific courses required for entrance to law school. There is no single path that will prepare you for a legal education. Students who are successful in law school, and who become accomplished professionals, come from many occupations and educational backgrounds. Some law students enter law school directly from their undergraduate studies without having had any post-baccalaureate work experience and others go to law school after working for some time. Those who work before going to law school come from many different jobs and industries.
Since there is not a set pre law major, students planning to go to law school should take courses that will provide opportunities to hone the following skills that law schools look for:
- Critical reading and ability to synthesize complex material
- Logic and problem solving
- Research and writing
- Oral communication skills
- Relationship building and collaboration
- Organization and management
For students who do want to delve into a law related studies, Northwestern offers The Legal Studies program. This program has both an undergraduate major and minor and provides an environment where students and scholars study legal issues using the methodology and perspectives of the social sciences and humanities.
The bottom line is that students who are interested in possibly going to law schools should choose a major they like and strive to do well in, since GPA is a major factor in law school admissions.
Outside of the classroom at Northwestern students can explore the field of law in many ways, including:
Informational Interviews with Legal Professionals
Finally, as Northwestern’s pre law adviser, I am here to help students explore and prepare for legal careers, including assisting with all aspects of the law school application process. I offer one-on-one advising, workshops and a pre law newsletter. Any interested student can make an appointment with me through CareerCat as well as sign up for the pre law newsletter by indicating law as an industry interest on their CareerCat profile.