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What are the best colleges for Pre-Law?

I am a sophmore in high school and I want to become a lawyer but so far I cannot find a whole lot of colleges that offer pre law courses. I haven't decided if I want to more in the way of being a Prosecutor or a D.A. I would really appreciate any of the help you coud offer.

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Jaclyn’s Answer

Hi Amity,

I can say for this field, it matters less which college you go to and more on how you do in the program you select. If you are one of the academic leaders in your program it will speak a lot more than going to a school with high pre-law rankings (of which it is valued very little).

I will be starting law school in the fall and highly recommend an undergraduate degree that is not pre-law for a few reasons. 1) A different major diversifies your application; you will stand out more in the application process as a business major etc. 2) Let's say you get delayed in going to law school, need to work a few years or decide law is not for you. Well a pre-law degree is pretty specialized and will not help you meet many job
qualifications. I highly recommend minoring in pre-law or joining the pre-law professional fraternity Phi Alpha Delta.

Think about what type of law you would like to practice, if it is criminal law maybe major in criminology. While that is also a common major for law school applications it gives you much more opportunities for jobs after the undergraduate degree.

You can also look for colleges that do expedited programs like 3 years of undergraduate paired with 3 years of law school if that still exists. You would be bound to that law school most likely though.

Best,
Jaclyn
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for the advice. Amity
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Elaine’s Answer

Instead of trying to tailor your college experience to what you think law schools will like, you should balance between choosing a major that sincerely interests you and that may have also have practical applications. First, if you enjoy your major, you will be more likely to get good grades (and a good GPA is one of the main components that gets you into law school). Second, your major may lead you down a path you didn't expect, and maybe you'll find an opportunity/internship/experience that reveals a career field that you'd never anticipated.

Here was my experience: My parents are immigrants and wanted me to major in computer science because they felt that was the most stable, well-paying job. I took a computer science class my freshman year in college and hated it. So I tried a bunch of different classes - like history, biology, art, literature, etc. I discovered that I really enjoyed human biology, which I chose as my major. As part of my major, I studied some social sciences and wrote my thesis about a legislative movement in another country. This experience helped me realize that I found law very interesting, even though I had never seen myself as having a "courtroom" personality. I ended up attending a Ivy League law school, and my classmates came from all sorts of majors - the predominant ones were political science and English, and then followed by philosophy. But there were people who majored in physics, biological sciences, psychology, and math too. What tied most people together was being able to think through things analytically and being intellectually curious. (And I agree with the other responders that "pre-law" doesn't necessarily help you.)

Separately, you've mentioned not being sure if you want to be a prosecutor or DA (also a prosecutor). If you're interested in being a prosecutor, aside from taking classes relating to criminal law, you should also make sure this kind of practice fits your beliefs and personality. You should be comfortable working with law enforcement. You should be comfortable with public speaking, so classes involving debate, mock trials, and public speaking would be helpful. Because a lot of unexpected things can arise during a criminal case, you should be ok with thinking on your feet and embracing a certain level of chaos. (By the way, I was a volunteer prosecutor for a few months and am friends/close to a number of prosecutors and defense attorneys today.)

In the end, maybe you will/won't be interested in being a lawyer. You can always change your mind at any point.
Maybe you should see what lawyers do on a day-to-day basis before you invest time and resources in this pursuit. Anyway, it's great that you're asking these questions early on. Good luck ;)
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Priya’s Answer

Hi Amity,

I agree with Jaclyn! Definitely major in something other than pre-law, which is probably hard to find in a lot of colleges anyways. To add onto that, from my knowledge most law schools don't really care what you major in undergrad - what is a lot more important is getting good grades and distinguishing yourself. Of course certain majors such as economics or sociology would be slightly beneficial in terms of what you learn to help you in law school, but really any major you are interested in is fine. Definitely choose a major that can give you other career/grad options in case you decide against law school, since it is a huge commitment and a difficult process.

Good luck!
Thank you comment icon I am really grateful you took the time to answer this question. Amity
Thank you comment icon Hi Priya, I think you’re definitely right about this. Are there certain schools where there are still ways to get an edge for law school, though? Places known for good preparation of law school students maybe Alexandra Carpenter, Admin
Thank you comment icon Good question! I don't know much regarding that, but I'd say the IVY leagues like Harvard and Yale have extensive clubs and alumni networks. Also Georgetown and NYU, USC, perhaps UCLA and UC Berkeley if you are looking towards the UCs. I would suggest though to focus on getting a good GPA and LSAT score and joining some pre-law clubs or professional fraternities to gain the network :) Priya Gourishetty
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