A career in law can be highly rewarding, but the path to adding "juris doctor," or J.D., after your name can be a confusing one. The law major at the undergraduate level does not exist. Rather, students attend law school after receiving their four-year degrees in another discipline. Law schools often have an overwhelming admissions process, but each school will require many of the same things.
There is no "correct" undergraduate major that will prepare you for law school. According to the American Bar Association, law school students come from a wide range of academic disciplines but many will choose majors that are traditionally associated with law, such as history, English, philosophy and political science. However, just as important is to select a major that you are passionate about, because grade point average is a key factor in the law school admissions process.
A number of skills will help you during the admissions process and as a law student. The American Bar Association recommends that students be versed in oral communication, research, organization, time management and writing. Along with strong analytical abilities and a passion for service, mastery of these skills will help differentiate you during the admissions process.
The Law School Admission Test, or LSAT, is a universal requirement for law school admission. The multiple-choice test measures the test-taker's reading comprehension, analytical reasoning and logical reasoning skills, according to the Law School Admissions Council, which administers the half-day long test. For students seeking a fall term start, the council recommends taking the test by December at the latest, but preferably, during the previous summer.
Law schools ask for a short personal essay as part of the admissions process. This should not be a simple retelling of your resume. Boston College recommends that the essay be "clear and vibrant" and that it present "an image of you." In other words, students must find a way to stand out from the pack, especially since each admissions officer will see hundreds, if not thousands, of applications each year.
Each law school you are interested in applying to will have myriad rules and requirements that are different from other schools. To ensure success, do as much research as possible and have a firm grasp of the nuances of each school's requirements.
Owen R. Smith is a client relations manager for Bridgewater Digital who has held staff positions with the "East Oregonian" and" The Oregonian." He began his professional writing career at the "Portland State Vanguard," which included stints as news editor, copy editor and editor-in-chief. He published his first book in 2010.