No special college program is required or recommended by most law schools. Generally, law schools urge a solid four-year program leading to a bachelor's degree. As long as a student receives a quality education featuring critical analysis, logical reasoning, and written and oral communications, any WMU major is acceptable for a pre-law student. Most often chosen are English, business, political science, history and economics, but such disciplines as philosophy, anthropology, mathematics, sociology, natural sciences, engineering, education, fine arts and aviation are also suitable majors. An advisor can help you with these decisions or contact one of the above departments.
Regardless of one's major, choose these essential courses:
- Writing, such as English and business communication
- Legal reasoning, such as administrative law, constitutional law and business law
- Awareness of the structure and processes of government, such as national government, legal environment and judicial processes
- Structure and development of American business, the American historical experience, economics and logic
Law school admissions
There is serious competition for admission to law school which is based on a variety of factors:
- An undergraduate record is a good predictor of likely performance in law school
- Grades will be carefully examined and afforded substantial weight
- Selection of advanced courses will be viewed favorably as will consistency of performance
- Performance in the last two years
Law School Admission Test
The LSAT standardized test assesses mental capabilities, and measures reading ability and comprehension, writing and reasoning. The test does not stress particular areas of academic content and no advantage or disadvantage results from majoring in one field rather than another. All law schools require the LSAT and its role in determining admissions cannot be overemphasized. Other factors such as personal accomplishments, graduate or professional schoolwork and letters of recommendation are often considered, though they are given less weight than GPA and LSAT.
Practice exams are available from a pre-law advisor, as well as information on the various law schools and their LSAT score requirements.
WMU Pre-law Society
The WMU Pre-law Society is a student organization providing a means by which students sharing a common career interest might interact regularly. The Society routinely sponsors discussions with judges and practicing attorneys, trips to law schools in the area, and visits from admissions officials from various law schools.
Law in American society
In the broadest sense, law is a central and binding element in American society. It provides a framework by which we are governed as well as reflects the values that evolve to prominence. Through the law, we attempt to resolve conflicts and preserve the basic principles of justice. To be a lawyer is to engage in work with a rich historical tradition and great contemporary significance.
The practice of law in the United States is highly diverse with lawyers representing many different kinds of clients and contending with a broad range of legal problems. All attorneys must know how to act as an advocate within the legal process, provide competent counsel on what the law requires, be skilled at both oral and written communication and know how to negotiate effectively.
Supervised internships for pre-law students are frequently arranged. Internship experiences provide an invaluable opportunity for educational growth and enhance a student's undergraduate record substantially. Depending on specific interest and background, students may intern with sponsors from judicial, legislative and executive branches of government at the federal, state and local levels. Private sector internships, often with law firms or business corporations in the area, may be arranged as well. Academic credit may be earned for work done as an intern through the academic departments and prior to the actual internship. Students should meet with their major advisor for more information.
The legal profession is highly competitive and students finishing law school are not guaranteed financial success. Nonetheless, persons with the confidence and record to compete in the legal market can be assured of a rewarding and satisfying career. Students thinking about a career in law are encouraged to systematically examine what lawyers actually do and the wide variety of activities that comprises the practice of law. The need for legal services is expected to expand and the services of capable attorneys will continue to be in demand.
Pre-law students are advised to cultivate career alternatives to law during their undergraduate careers. It is wise to have other options in the advent that admission to a law school does not materialize or in case that circumstances require a year or two of gainful employment prior to beginning law school. Developing career alternatives is a form of insurance and should be a primary consideration as students discuss the choice of major and minor areas with advisors.
Students can find additional information through Waldo Library's pre-law career guide.