Applying to Law School
Law schools do not require any particular undergraduate major. Nonetheless, there are important skills and bodies of knowledge that can be acquired prior to law school that will provide a sound foundation for a legal education.
Skills: The core skills and values essential for a successful legal education and practice of law are:
- Analytical and problem solving skills
- Critical reading abilities
- Writing skills
- Oral communication and listening skills
- General research skills
Knowledge: Certain types of knowledge are crucial not only to obtaining the maximum benefit from a legal education but also to the successful practice of law. These include:
- A broad understanding of history and the various social, political, economic and cultural factors that have influenced the development of American society.
- A fundamental understanding of political thought and theory and of the contemporary American political system.
- A basic understanding of ethical theory and theories of justice.
- A grounding in economics and the interaction between economic theory and public policy.
- Some basic financial and mathematical skills.
- A basic understanding of human behavior and social interaction.
- An understanding of diverse cultures within the United States and beyond and of the increasing interdependence of the nations and communities within our world.
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Prelaw students should take a wide range of courses that will help in the development of the requisite skills and knowledge. In choosing courses that meet requirements for their specific major and degree, students should select courses that require significant amounts of reading and writing as well as class participation that involves discussing, explaining and defending points of view. Beyond these general guidelines, some specific courses are recommended:
- Constitutional law, which exposes students to the judicial process, to reading court cases, and to constitutional questions. Constitutional law, taught more intensely, is a standard first year course in law school.
- Other "law" courses such as business law, criminal law or administrative law, also give students exposure to facets of the judicial system.
- Logic, which introduces students to the rules of clear thinking, is helpful both for law school courses and taking the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). One entire section of the LSAT is devoted to logical reasoning.
- Accounting since there are so many specialized areas of law, e.g., tax law and corporate law, which focus on the activities of business. An accounting course will familiarize students with the terminology that they will encounter in some law courses.
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