If you’re considering going to law school after you finish your undergraduate degree, the sooner you start preparing, the better. Everything you do throughout your four years in college can either help or hurt you when you start applying to law schools, so it’s important to think about your courses, extracurricular activities, and jobs and internships in terms of how they’ll affect your prospects. To help get you on the right track, here are five ways you can start preparing for law school right now.
1. Choose a major and courses for your academic and professional goals
Law schools accept students who have studied just about any major you can think of, but some majors will prepare you better than others. Above the Law recently reported the findings of Derek Muller, a professor at Pepperdine University, who examined the mean LSAT (Law School Admission Test) scores and undergraduates GPAs by major for law school applicants in 2013. Students who majored in subjects such as classics, international relations, and philosophy fared the best, perhaps because those majors require the critical thinking skills that law school demands. You can click here to view the full list of majors and their respective LSAT score and GPA averages.
2. Develop your writing skills
If you think you’ve had to do a lot of writing in undergrad, just wait until law school. Daily writing assignments (in addition to more reading than you’ve ever done in your life) are the norm. Refine your writing skills by taking a few classes that require a great deal of writing and in which you’ll get ample feedback on your work. This is especially important if you’re majoring in subjects such as the sciences or business, which don’t always require many detailed research papers. Growing as a writer will help you both in law school and in your career as a lawyer, when clear and concise communication will be imperative.
3. Join a pre-law group
Joining a pre-law society such as Phi Alpha Delta will help you meet friends and future colleagues with similar interests and goals. Plus, if you begin working on the law school application process during your junior or senior year, it will be encouraging to surround yourself with peers who are facing similar challenges such as figuring out which schools to apply to, studying for the LSAT, and securing recommendations.
4. Build relationships with your professors
Whether you’re a freshman or a senior, it’s important to develop relationships with your professors for several reasons. Yes, you’ll likely need to ask some of them for recommendations when you start applying to law schools. But you’ll also get more out of your classes if you make an effort to engage with them during class and take advantage of their office hours when you have questions. Don’t sit in the back of the class, make sure your professors know your name, and discuss your performance with them throughout the semester so it won’t be awkward when you have to turn to them for favor.
5. Start studying for the LSAT well in advance
The LSAT is a beast. If the SAT was exposed to gamma radiation like the Hulk, you’d get the LSAT. Yeah, it’s not fun. It requires a lot of preparation, and cramming isn’t an option, so it’s best to spread out your studying over as much time as possible. Take a prep course if you can (they can be pricey there are also many low-cost options) or grab a few test prep books and get to work on your own or with a friend or study group. Your LSAT score is hugely important to your admission decisions (it’s far more important than the SAT is for undergrad), so give yourself as much time as possible to prepare and don't take it lightly.
Are you thinking about law school? If so, what steps have you taken to begin preparing for the admission process? If the answer is none and you’re already in college, now is the time to get started. You can never be too pepared.