Leverage College Majors for Law School Admission
Michelle Kim Hall, director of Law Counseling at Stratus Admissions Counseling, recently outlined four categories of undergraduate study that give students the essential skills for law school.
1.) Social Sciences
Social science majors, Hall says, tend to “focus on the regulation of human beings, which, of course, is what laws are designed to oversee.”
According to Law School Admission Council data, political science was the most common major among 2015-2016 law school applicants. Yet, many other social sciences, Hall says, offer an ability to understand human behavior and potentially improve the human condition.
For many students studying social sciences, it may be a relief to hear that law schools often seek skills like critical reading, writing, editing, and research.
The challenge for social science majors, Hall says, is how to distinguish yourself from other applicants. “When you begin applying for law school, consider how you have been able to apply what you learned in the classroom in real-world contexts that are particular to you,” Hall says. “Discuss the kind of impact you want to make with a law degree, and explore unique extracurricular and leadership opportunities to set yourself apart from your peers.”
Among the business sector, economics was one of the most popular majors among 2015-2016 law school applicants.
“Organization and management, collaboration, as well as problem-solving are useful lawyering skills you will gain from your undergraduate studies,” Hall says.
Applicants with a business background should clarify in their application why they want to pursue a law career. Moreover, Hall says, business background applicants should try and humanize their business background in law applications. “A dry discussion of economic trends will not capture a reader’s attention in the same way that exploring how an assignment to launch your own entrepreneurial venture gave you insights into the myriad ways law and business intersect,” she says.
3.) Arts and Humanities
At its core, law is the art of communication. For arts and humanities major, a desire to understand human expression is key.
English majors were among the top five most common majors among law school applicants in 2015-2016, according to LSAC data. While other arts majors, like theater, film, and fine arts, are less common among law school applicants, these majors still teach an important law skill—communication.
In highlighting communication as a skill, arts and humanities majors should “avoid coming across as too artsy,” Hall says. “You want admissions committees to take you seriously as an intellectual and future advocate.”
4.) Nature and Technology
For many applicants with STEM backgrounds, strong logical reasoning skills are often the key skill that will serve them well in law applications. Particularly, the LSAT is where logical reasoning skills play out.
“Logical reasoning and a systematic approach to problem-solving are also useful when approaching law school exams, which will require a step-by-step analysis of issues, rules, application and conclusion,” Hall says.
More and more law schools are trying to recruit applicants with STEM backgrounds, but this doesn’t necessarily mean a free pass for all, Hall says. Applicants should still try to give insight into why they want to study law.
Sources: US News, Law School Admission Council
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