What are the best majors for pre-law students?

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Now that school has started, many of you may be thinking about your major. What are the best majors for law school?

In short, any major is perfectly fine. You may be surprised to hear this, and think that you have to be on a pre-law track. In fact, at my first-year orientation programs students often express surprise, and then relief, that they do not have to follow a prescribed set of pre-law courses from day one in college. Law schools accept any majors and do not expect that you will already know how to do legal research and writing.

However, I do recommend that you at least take one or two legally-related courses in undergrad. Not that you need to for admissions, but so that you can see what they are like. You can find out if you would enjoy law school classes, which are very different from the typical college class. Reading legal cases and analyzing them is a good way to see what law school might be like. It’s totally up to you, though, as they are not necessary for admission to law school.

Having said that, I do think there are some majors that add potential value to your education and your ultimate decision to go to law school. Here are some suggestions to think about:

Political Science/History: Political science tends to be the most popular major for pre-law students. In political science departments, you will typically find many law-related courses. These classes are sometimes taught by lawyers and give you a great idea of what law school could be like. Majors that involve a lot of reading, research and paper writing, such as political science and history, will give you skills that could be very helpful in law school.

Economics: Economics is another popular major for pre-law students. It can give you analytical skills which can really help when preparing for the LSAT, as well as when analyzing law school cases.

English/Communications: Law school involves heavy research and paper writing. English or communications could be a good major for this reason. I was an English major in college and actually found it very helpful when I first arrived at law school. I was used to reading many books and writing papers.

Biology/Math/Science: Biology? Math? For law school? Yes, potentially. I have been meeting with more math and science majors in recent years. Again, the analytical nature of mathematics, like economics, could help you prep for the LSAT. And science is a good background for those interested in patent law, healthcare law, or other emerging tech-related practice areas. It could also potentially help you stand out from the other applicants, as it is going to be a more unusual major for law school.

In the end, though, you should choose what you love to study, and enjoy your time in college. Whether you are interested in political science, or sociology, or music, any potential major could be a great learning experience. When you get to law school, there are a lot of required courses, especially the first-year curriculum. You will be glad that you studied something you enjoyed. So many majors are helpful with research, writing, and analytical skills, which are the primary skills you will use once you are in law school.

Hillary Mantis consults with pre-law students, law students and lawyers. She can be reached at altcareer@aol.com. Hillary is the Assistant Dean of the Pre-law Advising Program at Fordham University, and author of career books.

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