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The Top 3 FAQs about Pre-Law

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Jay Bonham College Admissions Advisor

Written by Jay Bonhamon May 17th, 2024

When I started working in Hamilton College’s admission office, I never thought I would find such a fulfilling career. I graduated from Hamilton with a government degree and planned to move to Washington D.C after a few years of working for my alma mater. However, what I thought would last just two years turned into many more! I loved all aspects of working in admissions, but I especially enjoyed interacting with prospective students and helping them navigate the admissions process. While at Hamilton, I read and evaluated applications, helped train new admission officers, coordinated the transfer admission program, and served as the athletic liaison to the Athletic Department. When my family relocated to Ohio several years ago, I read first-year applications for Dartmouth College remotely and later joined the Kenyon College Admissions Office. My responsibilities at Kenyon mirrored those I had at Hamilton but expanded my knowledge of other schools. I have also read for Bucknell University, evaluating applications for their College of Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering, and Freeman College of Management. My experience with Bucknell helped to expand my knowledge in the world of business and engineering.
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by Jay Bonham, former admissions officer at Hamilton College I’ll admit it, I love a good courtroom drama. I’m a loyal Law & Order fan and recently made my way through every season of Suits. (One of my minor claims to fame is that my college classmate, Sarah Rafferty, plays Donna Paulsen on Suits.) While the lawyers on these shows make it look easy, pursuing a career in the legal profession is difficult and requires a great deal of education and training. In spite of these challenges, we get a lot of questions from students hoping to pursue this field. For this post, I’ll address some of those most commonly asked. FAQs for Prospective Law Students Do I need to major in pre-law to go to law school? No, you don't need to major in pre-law or have a specific undergraduate degree to attend law school. In fact, pre-law isn’t a major offered at many universities or colleges, but is instead an advising program or track that is available to students in any major. While, in the past, many law school applicants tended to major in political science, history, or philosophy, law schools look for students from a wide range of academic backgrounds. Law admissions officers are less concerned with your major, and more concerned that you’ve developed skills imperative for success in a legal career, such as critical and analytical thinking and writing. In the end, don’t select a major just because you think it will help with law school admissions. What type of features should I look for in a pre-law advising program? Pre-law advising programs or tracks are designed to help students navigate the law school preparation and application process. When reviewing pre-law advising programs, you should look out for these common features and benefits:
  • Academic advising: Pre-law advisors guide students on what courses, majors, and minors may prepare them for law school.
  • Test preparation: Some law schools require or recommend applicants take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) or the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Many pre-law advising programs offer resources for these tests, including study materials and preparation courses.
  • Extracurricular activities: Advisors may recommend activities like mock trial, speech and debate, and student government, just to name a few. They can also help students identify internships or volunteer work, which will strengthen law school applications and confirm for students if law is the right fit.
  • Application assistance: Advisors help students with multiple aspects of the law school application process, possibly including the review of personal statements and resumes, as well as guidance on letters of recommendation.
  • Information sessions and networking opportunities: Pre-law advising programs often host guest speakers to educate students on the legal profession and law school admissions. Advisors also connect students with alumni and professionals to provide networking opportunities and mentorship. Meeting graduates who have successfully navigated the law school admission process will be a huge help to a student’s own process.
Lastly, when evaluating pre-law advising programs, it is fine to ask about their success rates in helping students gain admission to law school. Does it matter what undergraduate institution I attend if I want to go to a top law school? Every law school, regardless of its admission rate, welcomes students from a huge range of undergraduate institutions. To illustrate this point, two of the country’s most competitive law schools, Harvard and Yale, list the schools attended by their recently enrolled students, and you will notice a diverse array of campuses. These lists prove that what you accomplish as an undergraduate is more important than where you accomplish it. With a strong academic record, robust resume, and supportive pre-law advising, you can gain admission to a top law school.

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