Your future career is the backbone of your education; we plan our schedules around credentials and the best opportunities to build our knowledge. From the kindergarten classroom to high school graduation and beyond, every moment is spent shaping the young individual who will soon become a functioning member of society. Students who are interested in law typically have a keen eye and pride themselves on leadership skills and strong academics. Law school is a long road; it’s difficult but not impossible, and you can start preparing for the field long before you get to college. Here are some resources to help you pursue your interest in law as a high school student.
Start with your extracurriculars
Building your extracurriculars and knowledge can start as early as middle school. Getting involved in activities and finding what fits your interests from a young age can kick-start your high school academic and social career. For those with an interest in law, certain activities can help you stand out on your college applications résumé. While it may seem tempting to participate in extracurriculars you think colleges will like best, it’s more important to make sure you’re participating in things you enjoy and could see yourself continuing in the future.
Mock trial and speech & debate
The study of law has a heavy focus on writing and advocacy. Mock trial is an awesome way to expand your horizons while learning about the many processes of law. Starting in middle or high school, mock trial teaches calculated arguments, interrogation, and law lingua. Speech and debate is typically offered in middle school and carries on into high school. This extracurricular teaches memorization and spontaneous public speaking. These two activities cultivate your creative and academic writing skills, preparing you for pre-law. If you’re interested in one of these clubs but your school doesn’t have them, consider founding it on your own!
Showing initiative is a great way to stand out to colleges and build your résumé. Law requires tough students who are willing to encourage innovation and lead change. Assuming roles such as student office, team captain, or drum major show colleges and law programs that you are motivated and hardworking.
Take challenging classes
Law programs are built to challenge students, and colleges are looking for the most likely people to succeed and learn in their programs. Taking classes in high school that will challenge your intellectual ability and build confidence shows admission officers your willingness to learn new things and your academic work ethic. Some of these courses may include AP classes, physics, calculus, and forensics.
Take courses you enjoy
While challenging yourself is important, taking classes that actually interest you is one of the key things that make school more fun. Your work reflects your interest in a class; teachers can see through your work if you’re passionate about the subject, and they’ll be more likely to give you a good grade or even a letter of recommendation. Additionally, taking courses you enjoy leads you through your educational path by revealing your individual strengths and passions.
Form career goals
What do you want to accomplish in your life? How do you plan to achieve these goals? What field are you planning to pursue? These are all crucial questions to ask yourself before you apply to college or law school. When you’re in high school and applying for college, think about the academic atmospheres of your schools of interest, your strengths and weaknesses, and whether you want to stay close to home or move far away. When applying from undergraduate to law school, think about where you want to be in five years, ask yourself what field of law you’re interested in, and research how that field will help fulfill your lifelong goals.
Plan to apply to law school early
High schoolers have a long way to go before applying to law school—you do this toward the end of your college career—but it’s still a good thing to be familiar with. It may be a small part of the law school admission process in its entirety too, but applying early ensures you have a better chance of receiving a spot in the program. Law schools usually have a rolling admission cycle—meaning you can apply throughout the year, with applicants accepted as they come in. So it helps to get your application in before the program fills up with other candidates. Applicants who apply earlier also reflect an on-top-of-it attitude and a promising work ethic.
Do well on the LSAT
The Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) is a standardized test that accesses students’ reading comprehension, verbal arguments, and analytical-thinking skills. For some schools, students admitted typically place in the 150s; for top 10–ranking law schools, students admitted typically score in the 170s. Again, this test is far into the future for high schoolers, but here are a few quick LSAT tips to keep in mind when the time comes:
- Register early in order to guarantee your spot.
- Study for at least two to three hours multiple times a week for several months before your test date (no cramming!).
- Take a full-length practice test and figure out which study techniques work for you
- Practice Logical Reasoning (it makes up half your score!).
- Do not skip anything on the test and answer all questions to ensure your best score. (Some colleges look at your optional Writing sample as a part of your application, so don’t skip this section either.)
Find a great law school
Undergraduate is the starting point for the rest of our lives, and finding the perfect college is unique for each person. Taking into consideration your interest in law, these are some of the best schools for Pre-law undergraduate studies and law school.
An Ivy League school located in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale University has been ranked the #1 law school since the 1980s. The undergraduate route sets a great foundation to be accepted to the University’s law school.
New York University
New York University’s School of Law is the oldest standing law school in the state, serving students with the knowledge necessary to gain internships and real-world experience. Students participate in rigorous academic programs while enjoying big-city opportunities.
Northwestern University’s Law School resides on the campus of the University of Chicago. Ranked in the top 14 Law programs in the country, Northwestern's curriculum has improved to provide challenging courses and expanded opportunities.
The University of Chicago
Founded in 1902, the University of Chicago Law School has been shaping young adults' minds for generations. Ranked #3 in 2023 by U.S. News & World Report, UC provides an exceptional education that will put you on the right path to success with better chances to be hired and promoted.
Law school requires dedication and putting forth your best effort every day to achieve your goals. Along with the consideration of your extracurricular activities in high school, your true character should always shine through in your application. Be sure to show the admission officers who you are, try your best, and do the work.