You'll need to attend an undergraduate institute before you can apply to law schools. While there are some schools that offer pre-law programs as an undergraduate course of study, I would recommend avoiding those, as law schools view them as poor prep for the rigors of law school. Additionally, they're seen as teaching bad habits that will have to be overcome in law school while also engendering a false sense of having a 'head start' over your fellow classmates. Here's an article I wrote for high-schoolers thinking about law school.
1) High school GPA/resume
Will this matter when you apply to law school? Well, let me ask you something: did you save some baby mink whales while training for the 2012 Olympics? No? Then don’t worry about high school. The only part of your law school application that will be reflective of your high school experience is the undergrad that you decide to attend and to which you gain admission.
2) Which college should I pick?
The quality of your undergrad institution will play, at most, a minor role in the admissions process. Obviously you want to skip most online institutions, as many are not reputable and most aren’t well regarded. However, outside of that, it’s all about even. Of course, all else being equal, the Harvard student is getting in over the East West Virginia University student, but when is all else equal?
During the decision process, visit the school, talk with current students, and sit in on a class if possible. Figure out which environment will challenge you and allow you to thrive. If you can see yourself being happy at a certain school, go there. You’ll have a much easier time maintaining a high GPA if you’re in an environment in which you feel at home.
3) What should I major in?
If your goal is to set yourself up to get into the best law school you can, then you want to pick a major in which you’ll receive the highest GPA. Much more than the classes you take, the degree you receive, and the major you pick, your GPA will determine law school admissions decisions. Avoid basketweaving or Simpsons-ology and any other major will be, more or less, equal in the eyes of law schools.
I would recommend finding something in which you have a great interest, as then going to classes will be interesting and you’ll have an easier time focusing. Picking a major you love will afford you the chance to get a great GPA without having to ‘try’, as it will feel more like you’re doing something you want than trying to learn difficult and obscure material.
As a quick aside, most pre-law or legal studies programs are viewed as something as a joke by those associated with law schools. They’re generally law school lite, only without the great taste of Diet Dr. Pepper (because you kids don’t know what Miller Lite tastes like, right?). Most law professors view the knowledge gained in them (and the writing skills developed) as a detriment to a proper legal education, as you have to unlearn some of the stuff you think you know.
4) Are there any specific classes I should take in college to prepare me for law school?
You should be taking classes that focus on writing, analysis, and logic. While you’ll have to relearn how to write and analyze when you get to law school (legal research and writing is different than anything you’ll do up until then), having a baseline off of which to work (a knowledge of grammar, for instance) will give you a leg up. And logic will be the same, whether it’s in an undergrad course, the LSAT, or a class on Contract Law (which can be very logic-intensive).
5) What about this whole LSAT thing?
Your GPA is important, but your LSAT score (aka the Law SAT) is the largest factor in your application package. When the time rolls around, make sure you prepare for it. The test doesn’t ask you questions based on knowledge – it asks you questions to test your ability to think and reason. Those are skills that you can develop by properly prepping for the exam. While you’re years away from that (I repeat, you’re years away from it!), practice books, old tests, and LSAT classes are the best way to get ready for the exam that will, more or less, decide your law school fate.
Seriously, though, go do something foolish whenever you start to think about the LSAT. You shouldn’t worry about it until your Junior year.
6) And extracurriculars?
Find some extracurriculars in which you have an intense interest. Sports, drama, art, Future Farmers of America – wherever your passion lies, go for it. Pick the ones in which you have a serious interest and stick with them, building up a great resume that highlights something interesting about yourself. Fill leadership positions. That will show your potential as a leader, which is something that law schools love in their applicants.
And good luck!
I am an admissions consultant for Blueprint LSAT Prep and a graduate of Harvard Law School
· 8 years ago