What is pre-law?
Pre-law is a field of study that prepares students for admission to law school. There is no specific pre-law major or set of courses required for admission to law school. Students with an interest in law may choose a
- major in an area related to law (criminal justice, political science)
- a major related to an area of law they are interested in (for example, a business major for students interest in business law; an international studies, international business, or language major for students interested in immigration or international law; an engineering or science major for patent law)
- a major that provides opportunities to develop the critical thinking, writing, and research skills that are essential for success in law school (English, history, philosophy, economics, etc.)
In addition to taking challenging courses, pre-law students should also get involved in extracurricular activities that demonstrate their leadership, commitment to public service, and interest in the law. These activities can include volunteering at a legal aid clinic, participating in mock trial, or working as a legal assistant.
The admissions process for law school is highly competitive, so it is important for pre-law students to start planning early (often 2 years before planning to begin law school). They should take the LSAT, the standardized test required for admission to law school, and begin researching law schools that they are interested in attending. Here is an example timeline:
- Start law school: Fall 2025
- Submit applications: Fall 2024
- Work on applications (write statements, get references, order transcripts): Summer 2024
- Take LSAT (2nd time, if needed): Summer 2024
- Take LSAT (1st time): Spring 2023
- Study for LSAT: Fall 2023
Pre-law can be a challenging but rewarding path. By taking the right courses, getting involved in extracurricular activities, and starting the admissions process early, pre-law students can increase the chance of success in law school and a career in law.
Explore the field
Learn about law
Engage in campus activities and organizations to gain access to guest speakers, professionals to shadow, and other experiences to help you learn more about the legal profession.
Build experience. Law school candidates aren’t required to have law experience, but getting exposure to the legal field can be helpful. Law school admissions committees look for candidates to have experience, which may be leadership experience, community involvement, internships*, undergraduate research, or other forms of experiential learning. *Note that most legal internships are for current law school students (internship descriptions may use the terms 1L, 2L, or 3L, which indicates that they’re seeking a current law student in a specific year of law school). Students may look for an internship related to the area of law they’re interested in (a business internship if interested in business law, a nonprofit internship if interested in civil rights law, etc.)
Get additional support through meeting with your academic advisor or career coach.