The pre-law major is one that brings its own of controversy in the world of law school and law school preparation. There are many pros and cons associated with this undergraduate major, and in the end, only you can determine whether or not this course track is right for you.
In this article, we will be discussing some of the most important advantages and disadvantages of choosing a pre-law major during undergraduate school. We'll also be talking about some of the most popular majors that law students undertake, giving you an idea of what educational paths are available to you.
What Is Pre-Law?
A pre-law major generally covers topics that will be of importance in law school, such as logical and analytical reasoning, reading comprehension, and writing. The pre-law major works to improve the general knowledge of students by requiring them to achieve the same general requirements as every other student, and then introduces the study of law through specifically targeted courses designed to help students improve their analytical and communicative skills.
Some schools may offer dedicated pre-law majors with complete course tracks, while others will offer a selection of upper-class courses that are designated as pre-law classes and designed to be taken as a complement to a different, related major.
Most students who choose to enroll in a pre-law major or course track during undergraduate school have their sights set on attending law school immediately after graduation and are highly interested in pursuing a career in the legal field.
The Benefits of a Pre-Law Major
There are several benefits of enrolling in a pre-law major, which we will talk about below.
Demonstrated Commitment to Law School
Enrolling in a pre-law major can be a great way to demonstrate your commitment to law school and the legal profession. Law schools are inclined to admit students that have an obvious interest in law because this is a very good indicator that the student will succeed in law school and go on to make worthwhile contributions during their legal career.
It can also show that you are more likely to stay the course and graduate law school, as opposed to dropping out or not pursuing a career related to the legal field after graduation; law schools work to accept students that they believe will make it to graduation, as this improves their overall rankings.
Increased Stamina for Law School
The pre-law major sets you up for success in the legal field by introducing you to legal concepts and courses that other students may not be familiar with when they enter into their first semester of law school. This gives you a leg up on your competition during your 1L (first year of law school) year and can help you perform better in your courses.
You may also have increased stamina when it comes to reading and writing, two very important but time-consuming, skills that many 1L students struggle with during their first semester of law school. This can help you complete your first law school assignments with greater accuracy, less time, and less overall stress.
Potential for Higher LSAT Score
During your pre-law major or courses, you will be introduced to a number of different courses that work to improve your analytical and logical reasoning skills. These skills are highly important in law school and tested in-depth on the LSAT, the Law School Admission Test, that all students will need to take in order to enroll in law school.
Because you are more familiar with the skills tested by the LSAT, it is likely that you will understand the test concepts more easily. This leads to higher scores and less time spent studying for the test when compared to students who did not major in pre-law.
The Disadvantages of a Pre-Law Major
The pre-law major does come with a few disadvantages, which are important to understand before making your decision on this course track.
The Major Is Not That Difficult
Even though a pre-law major can introduce you to the basic concepts that are taught in law school, the courses associated with it are not considered to be that difficult. This means that your pre-law major might not make you that competitive, even if you have a perfect GPA, because the courses that are completed are assumed to be easier than many other undergraduate majors.
That being said, you shouldn't enroll in a major that is too difficult to you just to prove a point to the law school admissions committee; you want to choose something that will allow you to get stellar grades, and if that happens to be pre-law for you, then it is worth considering.
Hard to Find a Specific Pre-Law Major
If you are set on majoring in pre-law, you may have a somewhat difficult time finding a school that offers it as a major. Many undergraduate colleges don't offer a specific major for “pre-law” and may instead offer a group of classes that you can take as a part of a different, yet related, major.
This can make you feel somewhat lost in undergraduate school if you want to major in pre-law especially and are forced to choose something related instead, and it may be difficult to define yourself as majoring in pre-law if no viable schools offer an expressly outlined major to you.
Law Schools Want Well-Rounded Applicants
While it is true that majoring in pre-law can demonstrate your continued interest in law school and the legal field, many law schools are also interested in candidates that are both well-rounded and diverse. This means that your application may get passed over for a student that majored in science, language, or another major that proves them to be a diverse candidate.
This isn't to say that you should enroll in a major that you don't particularly enjoy just to diversify your application, but it does mean that even if you are interested in law school, you should allow yourself to major in something you will enjoy during undergraduate. For some students, that may be pre-law, but for others, it may be English or chemistry. You should keep in mind that there is no required major that you need to have completed before applying to law school and take advantage of the chance to expand your horizons.
Popular Undergraduate Majors for Law Students
If you still haven't decided whether or not to major in pre-law school, check out these other popular undergraduate majors that many law students choose. Keep in mind that anything that is writing heavy introduces critical and analytical reasoning concepts, and works on your communications skills can help you succeed in law school.
- Political Science
- Criminal Justice
- Arts and Humanities
Remember, there are no required courses that you need to complete before law school, and diversifying your undergraduate major may even be a benefit on your application.
Don't forget that at the end of the day it is your LSAT score and undergraduate GPA that will matter the most on your application, so you should be sure to choose a major that you both enjoy and will allow you to get the best grades possible.
Additionally, even if you don't select one of these popular majors or a pre-law major during your time in undergraduate school, you can always demonstrate your interest in the legal field and expand your legal knowledge by seeking out internships or summer employment with local law firms. This alone may have more impact on your application than majoring in pre-law or any other major would, as law schools enjoy seeing applicants that are willing to get hands-on and involved in their local legal community.
Choosing the Right Major for You
Deciding whether or not to enroll in a pre-law program or major during your undergraduate schooling can be a difficult decision. On one hand, the major can help demonstrate your dedication and interest in the legal field, but on the other it may make your application less diverse and less competitive.
However, no matter which way you choose, you should take care to evaluate your options and what interests you the most. There are many legal careers that pull on other aspects of education, such as health, science, and foreign languages. Choosing the right major for you involves selecting something that will interest you, make you happy, and allows you to achieve stellar grades before you apply to law school.