Preparing for Law School

This content was originally featured on Baylor’s Pre-Law Webpage.

Unlike other professional schools, law schools do not recommend or require that applicants take any particular courses. However, this certainly does not mean no preparation is required for law school. The lack of firm guidance from law schools presents a challenge and, accordingly, a pre-law student and advisor should work together to ensure the student is building the skills necessary for success. The American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar has identified the skills, values, knowledge and experience critical to law school preparation as:

  • Problem Solving
  • Critical Reading
  • Writing and Editing
  • Oral Communication and Listening
  • Research
  • Organization and Management
  • Public Service and Promotion of Justice
  • Relationship-building and Collaboration
  • Background Knowledge
  • Exposure to the Law

Pre-law students should use these as guiding principles when planning their undergraduate career. These skills can be acquired through a combination of course in the major, elective coursework, extracurricular activities, outside reaching, and internship opportunities. Special attention should be paid to the development of writing skills; law school consistently report that these are the most underdeveloped skills among incoming students and legal employers consistently rank them among the most important skills for young lawyers.

Many majors can serve as part of this preparation process for law school. Students should be encouraged to consider the following factors when selecting a major:

  • Ability to be academically successful
  • Interest in subject matter
  • Opportunities to develop core skills, values, knowledge and experience
  • Relationship to student’s areas of legal interest (e.g. business, environmental, employment, intellectual property)

Note that although law schools do not prefer any particular major, they do evaluate an application in terms of the perceived difficulty of the applicant’s academic program. Thus, students who succeed academically in majors perceived to be difficult – e.g., engineering, sciences, and finance – do frequently have an advantage in the admission process. However, it is easy to overstate this effect. Coming from a major that is perceived as difficult does not excuse low grades.

By Alexandra Karlesses
Alexandra Karlesses