Contrary to popular belief, there are no perquisites for law school. Law school students come from nearly every discipline. The best major for a law degree is the one that you sincerely desire to study. In doing so, the coursework will keep your attention, you will make good grades and you will maximize your college experience, which looks great to law school admissions committees!
Most Common Majors
Professor Carol Leach of Chicago State University surveyed the 200 most common majors among law school applicants to see which were accepted most often by law school admissions committees. According to the study, the top five majors for the law school entering class of 2001 were political science, history, English, psychology and criminal justice. The majors accepted least often were government service, prelaw, liberal arts and journalism. This is certainly important information to know when deciding which major is best for law school.
Whether to enroll in a prelaw program is a matter of debate. Students interested in majoring in prelaw or legal studies should consider whether their intent in choosing the major is to act as a precursor to law school. Menachem Wecker, writer for "U.S. News and World Report," surveyed schools offering the major. He found some variance in whether schools were offering the major as a precursor to law school or simply as a study of theoretical principles of law. For example, despite its name, the description of the prelaw major at the University of California-Berkley was not designed to prepare undergraduate students for law school. However, the University of Maryland-University College’s website boasts that the legal studies major “provides a solid foundation for challenging paralegal work in various legal settings as well as for further education in a variety of fields." Students seeking the prelaw major as a precursor to law school should contact prospective law schools to determine whether they consider that course of study to be necessary. Whether preparatory or not, prelaw majors are exposed to courses that teach critical thinking skills, which are necessary for law school, according to the American Bar Association.
Core Skills and Values
The American Bar Association cites analytical , critical reading, writing, oral communication, research and time management as necessary skills that students should acquire prior to entering law school. Subjects that are considered to be traditional paths for law school preparation, like history, English, philosophy, political science, economics or business, typically expose students to those skills. Non-traditional paths like art, music, computer science or nursing may expose undergraduates to those skills as well. Students choosing non-traditional paths may benefit from taking up a minor, which will show admissions boards that they have been exposed to courses that specifically require the recommended skills.
Find Your Passion
Ann Levine, law school admissions expert, believes that the most important principle in deciding which major is best for law school is this: pick a major that is of interest to you and get the best grades in it. Levine says law school admissions boards, “want people from different backgrounds with a wide range of undergraduate majors.”
A native of Nashville, Tenn., Dannelle F. Walker is an education lawyer and policy maker. Her areas of expertise include teacher liability, educator ethics, and school operations. She holds a JD from the University of Arkansas School of Law.