Exploring & Preparing for Law School
Law schools have a vested interest in enrolling not only good students, but good people who they think would excel as lawyers. Below is some information to consider on making yourself a holistically competitive applicant.
Study (majors, minors) what interests you
- “The 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 that are recommended by the 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 a law class taught by UW Law School
- 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
Maintain a high GPA
- Your GPA is one of the many important components of your law school application. Make sure you have a well-balanced schedule that allows you to maintain a good GPA.
- Make sure you transcript and grades will also demonstrate academic rigor.
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. This list does not include all areas of law.
Outside the Classroom
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.
- In order to have a significant impact on the law school, the chosen activity needs to indicate meaningful involvement and not work as a resume filler.
- To start, consider joining a student organization, volunteering, and/or service learning (Carlson Center).
Get exposure & experience (legal and non-legal)
- Look over “Gaining Experience as a Pre-Law Student” handout to get started.
- Career Conversations: Talk/shadow with attorneys, other legal professionals, and current law students about their work, path, and journey to where they are now.
- Internships/Volunteer: This is a great way to get first hand experience in the field you are interested in and what practicing law looks like in a firm. It is not necessary to complete a legal internship, but this can help with giving yourself a better understanding of the work and work environment. We encourage students to do internships in various areas that are related to their interests.
- Jobs: Common jobs that students get to gain more experience include becoming a legal assistant, legal clerk, paralegal, and or jobs that are in law firms. We encourage students to also seek jobs that are not legal-related and can be more interest/passion-related. Finding a balance of both can be ideal. Here are some resources on legal work.
- Where to look: Handshake, UW Carlson Center Community Based Internship, Idealist, Indeed, and LinkedIn.
- Washington State Legislator- Offers Washington college students the opportunity to gain paid work experience while studying the state legislative process up close. Please contact Mark Weitzenkamp (Political Science Academic Advisor) for more information.
- Law Societies and Justice (LSJ) 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.
Assess your values and reflect
- If you are feeling stuck with your decision or simply want to talk about the prospects of attending law school with someone, meet with a Career Coach! In an appointment we can discuss your interests, values, and goals, and help you decide whether law school is a good fit.