Exploring the Legal Profession: Academic and Professional Prep

Study (majors, minors) what interests you

    • The ABA (American Bar Association) does not recommend any undergraduate majors or group of courses to prepare for a legal education. Students are admitted to law school from almost every academic discipline. Whatever major you select, you are encouraged to pursue an area of study that interests and challenges you, while taking advantage of opportunities to develop your research and writing skills. Taking a broad range of difficult courses from demanding instructors is excellent preparation for legal education.

Take courses that involve a lot of reading, writing, research and critical thinking

    • Core skills, Values, Knowledge and Experience you will need according to American Bar Association are:
      • Problem Solving
      • Critical Reading
      • Writing and Editing
      • Oral Communication and Listening
      • Research
      • Organization and Management
      • Public Service and Promotion of Justice
      • Relationship-building and Collaboration
      • Background Knowledge
      • Exposure to the Law

Take classes you are passionate about

  • This can be anything you find to be interesting
  • This can likely help you gain/maintain a good GPA

Take a law class taught by UW Law School

  • “UW School of Law has an increasingly robust catalog of undergraduate course offerings. Taught by law school faculty, these courses are designed to provide undergraduate students with an understanding of the law and its applicability in and impact on virtually every major field of study. Our classes are designed to be accessible, generally have no prerequisite courses and are open to students in all schools, departments and majors”
    • A list of these classes can be found here
  • Look through UW Law School JD Admissions and find out how you can visit a Law School Class

Consider what Legal Field you want to study/learn more about and take some classes in these disciplines*:

  • Business (Corporate Law)– Entrepreneurship, Finance, Management
  • Civil Rights Law– Law, Societies and Justice, Ethnic Studies, History, Political Science
  • Criminal Law– Psychology, Political Science, Sociology
  • Education Law– Education, Higher Education, Early Childhood & Families
  • Employment & Labor Law– Law, Societies and Justice, Policy, Political Science, Economics
  • Environmental Law– Environmental Science, Biology, Geography, Civil Engineering
  • Family & Juvenile Law– Psychology, Sociology, Early Childhood & Families, Social Work
  • Health Law– Public Health, Biology, Biochemistry, Health & Human Sciences, Psychology
  • Immigration Law– Law, Societies and Justice, History, Ethnic Studies, Diversity, Political Science
  • Intellectual Property Law– Computer Science, Electrical/Mechanical Engineering, Business
  • International Law– International Relations, Languages, Political Science
  • Real Estate Law– Business, Management, Communications, Psychology, Economics
  • Sport & Entertainment Law– Business, Communications, Management, Sociology
  • Tax Law– Economics, Accounting, Finance, Entrepreneurship

*The various disciplines do not indicate what you should major in. Remember, there is no “right” major for Law School. Law School accepts any and all majors. This list suggests classes you could possibly take or explore to learn more about that field. 

Seattle University- List of Practice Areas of Law

Take the LSAC Quiz- Which Field of Law is Right for You?

Attend and/or join a club/RSO

Get legal experience (jobs, internships)

  • Talk/shadow with attorneys and other legal professionals about their work/paths. Start volunteering and/or get an internship (this is a great way to get real and first hand experience in the field you are interested in and what practicing law really looks like).
    • You can look on UW C&IC, Handshake, UW Carlson Center Community Based InternshipsIdealistIndeed, Linkedin, UW Department of Political Science, and UW Law Societies and Justice internship lists to get ideas of where you can look, apply, and gain experience
    • Washington State Legislator- Legislative Internship Program: The Legislative Intern Program offers Washington college students the opportunity to gain paid work experience while studying the state legislative process up close.  Join hundreds of students who have started their careers here and forge lifelong connections in public policy. (Applications now open for 2019). Please contact Mark Weitzenkamp (Political Science Academic Advisor) to learn more about this internship.
    • List (from LSJ) of internship opportunities through Courts and Probation Services, Legal Services and Legal Associations, Criminal Justice, Prisons, and Law Enforcement, Immigration and New Americans, Government and Law, and Non-Governmental Organizations- Social Service and Rights

Participate in extra-curricular activities that interest you

  • Law schools look for a “well-rounded” student who has participated in activities outside academics. You are encouraged to do volunteer work, community service, philanthropy, and/or an internship during your undergraduate education. These experiences enable you to test your interest in the practice of law before applying to law school. In order to have a significant impact on the law school, the chosen activity needs to indicate meaningful involvement and not serve as a resume filler. Do not do extra-curricular activities if they are detrimental to your academics; outside activities never replace a high GPA.
  • Here is a list of Registered Student Organizations at the UW

Assess your values and reflect 

  • Ask yourself:
    • Why do you want to go to law school?
    • “Will obtaining a law degree be of enough value in helping me achieve my goals to justify the time (3 Years) and expense ($100K+ tuition/debt) needed to obtain a law degree? 
  • What are your reasons?
  • Ask yourself these questions
  • Look at “To Consider if Law School is for you” section under ‘Additional Resources for Students’ on this website

Maintain a high GPA

  • Having a high GPA is important when applying to law school. Make sure you have a well-balanced schedule that allows you to maintain a good GPA

Attend information sessions, events, and workshops

  • The UW Career & Internship Center may offer these workshops (TBD): Pre-Law Info Session, Application 101, Myth busting Law School, & Law Panel
    • To receive announcements and reminders of events, resources, and information related to pre-law, please subscribe to the UW Pre-Law Listserv
  • UW Law School Fair (TBD)
  • Attend a UW Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity Event

Consider taking gap year(s)/time off after graduating instead of going directly into law school

  • Many students choose to wait a couple of years after graduation from college to attend law school. Work experience and service/volunteer experience are usually viewed favorably by law schools. If you are in doubt about whether or not law school is a good fit for you, take time off. During that time, work within your discipline (any discipline is fine for law school) or work in the legal field to determine if you want to practice law.
  • From the Yale Law School Entering Class Profile Statistics for the Class of 202016% of student admits were directly from undergrad versus 38% were 1-2 years out, and 46% were 3+ years out