Law schools look for students who have developed the ability to think logically, read critically, and write in a clear, well-organized manner, so students are advised to choose a major that they feel passionate about and select courses that challenge them to think and expand their capabilities. Courses that require the preparation of research papers and other assignments involving the collection and analysis of data are especially valuable. The following characteristics have been noted in various pre-law guides throughout the country as essential for a successful law school applicant:
- Habits of thoroughness, intellectual curiosity, and scholarship;
- The ability to organize, analyze critically, and communicate ideas and information;
- A broad understanding of human nature, human institutions, and values; and
- A mastery of a specific body of knowledge or discipline.
Pre-law students should therefore consider the following when selecting an undergraduate course of study:
Verbal and written communication skills can be developed by completing courses in English Literature, Composition, Creative Writing, Public Speaking, Interpersonal Communication, and Social Sciences or Humanities that emphasize critical writing and reading.
Analytical skills can be honed through coursework in Philosophy, History, Religious Studies, Sociology, Political Science, Psychology, Economics, Foreign Languages, Mathematics, Computer Science, Natural and Physical Sciences, Debate, and course that requires use of primary source materials.
Broad awareness of our society and the world at large can be achieved by taking courses in History (United States, Latin America, Western Civilization), Political Science, Sociology/ Anthropology, Psychology, Economics and Business, Literature, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Foreign Language, Art History, Natural and Physical Sciences, and Great Books. Participating in a Study Abroad program can also be very beneficial in this regard.
Regardless of where a student prepares for law school, pre-law is not a major, it is a career path. There is no best major for those who wish to pursue law school. Students who would like to take some time to narrow their options should feel comfortable being undecided on a major for their first year. This will allow students time to learn about options and make an informed decision. Students can take courses to fulfill their general education requirements while deciding what major they should choose.
Mercer's Pre-Law Advisors:
Lori A. Johnson, Ph.D., J.D.
James L. Hunt, Ph.D., J.D., LL.M.