Law school professors insist that students do three things well: read, write, and think critically.
- There is no "pre-law" curriculum equal to "pre-med" curriculum.
- There is no "pre-law" major at Saint Anselm College. Pre-law is an advising category or career-related label. Students who are interested in pre-law intend to enroll in law school for the study of law.
- Pre-law courses simply encompass a broad array of liberal arts courses.
- Law schools prefer you reserve your legal study for law school and prefer you engage in challenging and diverse courses.
- As a pre-law student you will receive advice on how to be a competitive law school applicant (curricular and extra-curricular) and guidance on selecting law schools and the application process. You will also receive important law school information and invitations to events and workshops throughout the year.
The American Bar Association states: "The core skills and values that are essential for competent lawyering include analytic and problem solving skills, critical reading abilities, writing skills, oral communication and listening abilities, general research skills, task organization and management skills, and the values of serving faithfully the interests of others while also promoting justice ."
Making the Most of Your Undergraduate Education
Your GPA is a number, which may or may not reflect the extent to which you challenged yourself. Admissions will look beyond the raw number and evaluate the depth and rigor of the courses you selected. A high GPA through non-challenging courses will not help you develop the appropriate skills or study habits and will be a strike against you in the admission office.
Law schools want evidence that you can master the basic skills required of a lawyer. The goal is to be a better thinker, writer, and reader. Saint Anselm College recommends you choose a program of study based on your interests while developing the requisite skills to prepare for law school: reading comprehension, analytical thinking, and effective written and oral communication.
At Saint Anselm College there is no specific pre-law program of study nor are there any specific courses required for students planning to attend law school. Moreover, law school admissions officers inform us that no one major is any more attractive in terms of gaining admission to law school than another. The business of lawyers covers all fields and they recommend only that students pursue challenging courses in an area of interest to them. Almost any course of study that engenders mental discipline and intellectual curiosity can lay the foundation for a successful legal education and professional career.
No one major guarantees success than any other major in being accepted to law school. On its Web site, The American Bar Association provides further information on academic majors and law school in the Preparing for Law School section.
GPA and Trends
Along with numerical average, trends are evaluated. A student who started out average but finished strong may be favored over a student who started out strong and then faltered over time.
Get involved. Law schools are looking for evidence that you spent time in activities outside of academics. Leadership activities in organizations is looked upon favorably. Tips:
- Activities need not be law related (i.e. student government, political groups, the debate team)
- Quality not quantity; depth not breadth
- assume leadership positions among a few
- Through activities you want to demonstrate your ability to:
- work with others
- achieve and master the basic skills of lawyering
- Community Service
- Dive in, but not at the expense of your grades
Develop relationships with faculty early, particularly those who will stimulate you intellectually and who are in a position to observe your best work. You will need at least two recommendations, which means you will need two recommenders. It is best to ask someone with whom you have taken at least two classes. Developing a relationship is not something that can be put off.
For more information, please check out the Geisel Guide to Planning for Law School.