How To Position Your Major in Law School Applications
What’s the great part about applying to law school?
You can get in with just about any undergraduate major!
That’s right: Law school is open to all comers. Whether you studied molecules or Moliere, you have a fair shot… provided you blew out the LSAT (and maintained a high GPA). In fact, law schools emphasize diversity in rounding out a class – and placing engineers next to English majors only brings more ideas into discussions.
That said, you still need to sell yourself to admissions. And every major raises its own set of issues. For example, could a liberal arts major make sense of data in a complex securities case? Could an applicant with a strong technical bent come across as likable, persuasive, and empathetic to a jury? Fair or not, those are the questions being weighed.
Luckily, your admissions essay is the perfect place to tie your major to legal skill sets. In a recent column with U.S. News and World Report, Shawn O’Connor, CEO of Stratus Prep and a Harvard Law graduate, shares how students with liberal arts, quantitative, and technical backgrounds can demonstrate their majors’ benefits in law school. Here are some ideas for each of these groups:
The Good: Well, you should have the writing part down pat. Plus, your critical reading and research skills should give you an edge early in the process.
The Bad: Liberal arts majors are a dime a dozen in the application process.
The Solution: In your essays, emphasize your “critical thinking, research, composition and reasoning” skills, according to O’Connor. Touting your successes in STEM coursework wouldn’t hurt, either.
The Good: In O’Connor’s experience, quants benefit from their ability to absorb complicated readings and establish a process for finding answers.
The Bad: Yes, you’ll face the stereotype: Quants are better at conducting detached analysis than making personal connections.
The Solution: Emphasize “your ability to approach and solve a problem and your ability to comprehend dense material,” says O’Connor. In particular, use your essays to showcase how you applied these abilities in your personal, academic, or professional lives.
The Good: Chemistry, physics, engineering, and biology majors are in demand! O’Connor notes that “as technology continues to advance, there is increased demand for lawyers who can comprehend its complexity.” As a law result, schools are looking to bolster this segment for their incoming classes.
The Bad: The heavy demands of the hard sciences often produce lower GPAs. If data is destiny, this is a major hurdle for technical students facing number-conscious adcoms.
The Solution: GPA is only one measurable. A high LSAT should bring some sheen back to your candidacy. At the same time, tie your background to the area of law you intend to practice so adcoms recognize that you have a plan. Remember, your technical background makes you more desirable to employers, which will help a school’s placement and salary stats in the coming years.
Source: U.S. News and World Report