Non-Traditional Major? No Worries For Law School Admissions

Non-Traditional Major? No Worries For Law School Admissions

Biology. Agriculture. Engineering.

These aren’t traditional undergraduate majors you’ll find in law schools. That doesn’t mean those students won’t get into a good law school.

At least, that’s what Daniel Waldman, a contributor at US News and consultant at Stratus Admissions Counseling, says.

“Having a degree that’s not in one of the classic majors for law school applicants – i.e., political science, philosophy, economics, and humanities in general – isn’t necessarily a disadvantage,” Waldman writes in a US News piece.

Having A Story Is Crucial

For those who don’t have a background in law, it’s important to have a solid story to explain why it is you’re interested in attending law school.

“First, it’s possible that some major event or experience is what caused you to apply to law school or focus on an area of the law different from the one you had originally planned,” Waldman writes. “If that’s the case, make sure to make that event the focal point of your personal statement. The obvious benefit is that doing so will contextualize your motivation and education for the committee.”

Experts say having a strong personal statement is critical in portraying a “human face” to an application.

“There is no area of the application more important than the personal statement,” Jason Wu Trijillo, senior assistant for admissions and financial aid at the University of Virginia School of Law, tells the National Jurist.

Among all else, the personal statement should be an area where you convey your character and your goals.

“It’s a matter of how they pursue their passions,” Lewis L. Hutchison, assistant dean for admissions at the Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law at Campbell University, tells the National Jurist. “We want to see vigor, depth and persistence. One clear way to stand out is to answer a simple question – why do you want to be here, not why do you want to be a lawyer. That personal statement could take a person slated for denial and put them in the admit pile.”

Addressing Your Story In An Addendum

Another possible route to explain your background is through an addendum.

“Applications to law school offer many opportunities to write about experiences through personal statements, short answer responses and supplemental essays,” Julie Ketover, a contributor at US News and consultant at Stratus Admissions Counseling, writes. “However, you may also need to explain aberrations in your candidacy. You can proactively address potential red flags by submitting an addendum as part of your application.”

Waldman says the addendum can be a key area to highlight your non-traditional law background.

“While addenda are typically used to discuss GPA, LSAT scores or some disciplinary issue, they can be used to discuss anything in your application that you feel warrants explanation,” he writes. “To that end, you can craft an addendum acknowledging that your major does not align with your career goals and move on to highlight the unexpected advantages that come with your education.”

Sources: US News, National Jurist, US News