Pre-Law DepartmentDeciding to apply to a law school and pursue legal studies is a big decision. Please note some of the information from the Bryan College Pre-Law Advisor below.
There is no undergraduate “Law” major. As you may know any major is a “gateway” to law school. In general most law schools look for a well-rounded liberal arts education. Some of the more common majors today are Criminal Justice, History, Government/Political Science, and English. However, law students represent a wide variety of undergraduate majors.
Deciding on a Major
While there is no specific major required for law school, the following courses will introduce you to some of the important skills necessary for successful studies or will give you a basic understanding of legal terminology, definitions, and concepts:
- PHIL 316 Logic and Critical Thinking
- PSGS 321 Jurisprudence (Philosophy of Law)
- PSGS 421 American Constitutional Law
- HIS 393 American Constitutional History
- BUS 326 Legal Environment of Business/Business Law
Choosing a Law School and Applying to Law SchoolYour choice of a law school may depend on many factors. You may plan to practice law in a particular state and thus you might choose a law school in that state. You may wish to attend a law school with a particular religious perspective (such as Regent, Liberty, Jones/Faulkner, Ave Maria). You may want a particular specialization which some law schools are stronger in than others. You may want to attend a “top 20” law school. Do your homework on what is important to you in advance.
After you decide where you want to go (or even prior to that), apply to take the LSAT exam. This is a standardized exam of general ability to think; it is not a test of legal knowledge. You can prepare for the LSAT by using practice materials from the LSAT test service LSDAS or by using the services of LSAT preparation courses such as Kaplan or LSAT Preparation. (The latter involve commitment of time and money, but may well be worth the investment.) Be sure to take the LSAT exam at least one year in advance of your planned date of law school entry; one and one-half years in advance would be even better. The Bryan College Pre-Law Advisor has helpful materials.
Law StudiesLaw school is both a graduate and professional studies program. You may have heard it said that the first year is the “hardest." There is truth to that, if for no other reason than you are being subjected to a new environment and, in many classes, a new method of instruction, the “Socratic method” (intense questioning by the professor designed to make students think).
If you are successful, at the end of three years (or a little longer) you will earn a doctorate, the Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.). This degree can open many doors. You may of course practice law, alone (“solo”) or with a firm. (You will have to pass the state’s Bar Exam, which is not necessarily easy.) You may go to work for a business venture. You may work in government. You may work for legal organizations which defend individual rights and liberties (such as the Institute for Justice, which defends private property rights and economic liberties, or the ACLJ, which specializes in protection of religious liberty, among many today). You may desire to teach (usually on the college level—Government, Criminal Justice—or in a law school—often requiring practice experience and/or a graduate law degree). In many law schools you may choose joint degree programs (J.D. and some kind of Masters degree, or possibly a Ph.D.). These joint degrees can be very useful.
I hope this brief overview of Pre-Law and Legal Studies has been helpful. As always, if you have questions, please contact me.
Dr. Kevin Clauson
Professor of Government and Pre-Law Advisor