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Prelaw Education

law courses school major

A preparatory curriculum comprising introductory law courses and interdisciplinary subjects, offered to undergraduate students to instruct them in and acquaint them with the subject MATTER OF LAW, thereby assisting them in deciding whether to seek admission to law school and facilitating the process of law study in law school.

COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES offer several types of prelaw education to undergraduate students who are interested in attending law school. Some institutions offer a prelaw major course of study leading to a degree, a few offer a six-year course of study that combines undergraduate and law school education, and almost all offer an informal prelaw curriculum that emphasizes skills and knowledge essential to the study and PRACTICE OF LAW.

The AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION does not recommend any particular major for law school. Although political science is a popular prelaw major, there is no specific major preferred by law schools. Law students can major in anything from engineering to history to the fine arts. Some law schools state in their catalogs that they neither recommend prelaw courses nor grant an applicant any additional consideration because he or she pursued a prelaw education.

A particular major is not important to a law school admissions committee, but good grades are critical for acceptance. In addition, admissions committees seek a diverse first-year class and may look at volunteer and extracurricular activities as well as a college transcript and the results of the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).

Law schools have no prerequisite courses for admission. However, colleges offer courses that help hone the skills that will be important to a law student. Such "lawyering" skills include analytical thinking and problem solving, critical reading, writing, and oral communication. Courses in English, composition, and speech will enhance these means of communication. The legal profession finds its basis in the formation and operation of government institutions, and courses in political science and history help develop a better understanding of these institutions. Creative thinking is also an important skill in the legal profession. Courses in math and, specifically, logic are recommended. Because law is a social science that focuses on human behavior, courses in psychology, sociology, religion, and philosophy may also be useful.

FURTHER READINGS

Basch, Margaret, 1998. "Teaching Law, Making Lawyers." Chicago Daily Law Bulletin 144 (December).

Maguire, Daniel L. 2002. "Future Lawyers Faced with Ethical Dilemmas." Georgia Bar Journal 8 (October).

CROSS-REFERENCES

Case Method; Legal Education.

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