How To Prepare for Law School
The best preparation for law school is a sound background in liberal arts. At Rutgers, there is no such thing as a pre law major, There are however, three skills which a law applicant must demonstrate some skill:
- The ability to comprehend and understand what you read.
- The ability to write with lucidity and clarity, to know what words mean.
- The ability to logically analyze and understand complex ideas and issues.
It will immediately be seen that familiarity with these skills can come from a wide variety of courses and/or majors. The old stand-bys such as history, political science, and economic remain popular, but so does a science major, or concentration in philosophy, sociology, or mathematics. It bears repeating that the skills necessary for success in law school are unique to no undergraduate major in particular. Rather, of much greater interest to a law school is how well you do in whatever major you select. Does your transcript, for example, reveal a superior quality of work over four years, with evident maturation as a student? Is there evidence of demanding course work in such offerings as calculus, or a laboratory science, writing, a history or economics seminar—to mention only a few?
A question might be raised as to whether or not a transcript is more persuasive to the law schools because the student has taken undergraduate courses in law related subjects such as constitutional law or legal history. The answer is--not really. A law school course in constitutional law, for example, is usually very different from an undergraduate offering in the same field. But if such courses do not materially improve one’s chances of admission, in another sense they can be very helpful to the undergraduate applicant. A student who finds a course in constitutional law, American legal history, or logic either confusing, boring, or both should seriously consider whether or not he/she wishes to undertake at least three years of difficult courses in closely related subject matter. It is far better to solve such a question before applying to law school.
Applying to Law School
Besides the undergraduate transcript, most law school applications contain several other segments that should be noted:
- The first is some sort of personal statement explaining why the applicant wishes to attend law school, including—perhaps--some past experiences that contributed to it. As law school admission personnel read these essays with some care, they should be written in the same manner.
- Second are at least one or two recommendations from faculty, or employers, or individuals who can provide insights into the applicant as an individual. Students should give serious thought to who they select as their letter writers. If at all possible, the faculty member should know the applicant well enough as a student to be able to assess, candidly his/her intellectual potential for the study of law. Simply giving an A in a large course with virtually no personal contact between the professor and student is not a sufficient basis for a recommendation.
- The third part of the application is the required Law School Admissions Test, or the LSAT. A standardized test, it is the sine qua non for all law school applicants, and along with the undergraduate transcript constitutes the two most important parts of the application. Most law schools decline to state which is more important in terms of admission—the academic GPA, or the LSAT score. However, it would appear that an outstanding GPA will help to offset a mediocre LSAT score, while an outstanding LSAT score will not offset an unimpressive GPA.