In the movie The Paper Chase, law professor Kingsfield strikes terror into students' hearts. Like many law professors who use the Socratic method, named after the philosopher, Kingsfield asks questions rather than lecturing. And when students answer his questions poorly, he's not above insulting them. But over time viewers realize that Kingsfield's goal is to sharpen his students' ability to reason.
That’s a skill they'll need to succeed as lawyers -- and a skill that law schools look for in applicants. In fact it’s not any specific major that will get you into a top school; it’s sharp thinking, reading, and communication skills that make the difference.
Almost never offered as a major, a prelaw advising program will help you stay on track as you prepare for law school.
Did You Know?
Though many prelaw students choose majors like English or political science, you can major in anything from anthropology to zoology.
Are You Ready To...?
- Visit the prelaw section on the website of the American Bar Association
- Join a prelaw chapter of Phi Alpha Delta
- Join an LSAT study group
- Intern with a law office or other legal organization
- Get involved in student government
- Earn top grades
- Take difficult courses
- Meet with a prelaw advisor
It Helps To Be...
A good communicator. You'll be more likely to get into law school if you are also an analytical thinker who enjoys problem solving.
- What percentage of students get into the law school of their choice?
- Does the school offer prelaw advising?
- What groups, clubs, and workshops does the school offer for prelaw students?
- Will the school help you find a law office or legal rights organization to intern with?
“I was an English major in college, and I think that major -- or any that requires a great deal of careful reading and analytical writing -- is useful if not essential preparation for law school.” -- Sara, J.D. candidate, Columbia University
Because prelaw students can major in anything so long as they excel at it, there's no typical prelaw course. But whatever your major, you'll want to try to volunteer, work, or intern with a law firm or a legal-rights organization such as Amnesty International.
This is a golden opportunity to develop your skills and refine your interests. Of course, most activities are reserved for lawyers, but chances are you'll be able to conduct research, visit courtrooms, and ask lawyers for career advice at the water cooler.