Preparing for law school

Although we often refer to “pre-law” students, there is no such thing as a standard pre-law curriculum, and at UNI there is no particular pre-law major. You should pick a major that interests you and that you are passionate about.

There are, however, certain standards that law schools expect students’ undergraduate work to live up to. Law school is extremely demanding, and admissions committees are looking for students who have the skills that are likely to lead to success in law school and in their subsequent career. These skills, some of which are discussed at more length below, are fostered through supplementing UNI’s core curriculum with challenging courses throughout a broad range of subjects. Law school admissions committees are more likely to appreciate a well-rounded student who has taken difficult courses to one with excellent grades in unchallenging programs or easy classes.

The American Bar Association’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar drew up a statement several years ago to sum up its views on preparing for law school. It includes a list of Skills, Values, Knowledge and Experience that “will provide a sound foundation for a legal education.” These are:

  • Problem Solving
  • Critical Reading
  • Writing and Editing
  • Oral Communication and Listening
  • Research
  • Organization and Management
  • Public Service and Promotion of Justice
  • Relationship-building and Collaboration
  • Background Knowledge
  • Exposure to the Law

The ABA lists the following areas of background knowledge as helpful:

  • A broad understanding of history, including the various factors (social, political, economic, and cultural) that have influenced the development of our society in the United States.
  • A fundamental understanding of political thought and of the contemporary American political system.
  • Some basic mathematical and financial skills, such as an understanding of basic pre-calculus mathematics and an ability to analyze financial data.
  • A basic understanding of human behavior and social interaction.
  • An understanding of diverse cultures within and beyond the United States, of international institutions and issues, of world events, and of the increasing interdependence of the nations and communities within our world.

Many majors will contribute to the development of most of these skills. Sometimes students may need to supplement their choice of major with a minor or other courses that will help them round out their course of study. For example, perhaps students majoring in mathematics or computer science who wish to go to law school would seek out a minor (or even individual courses) in subjects that would give them more practice with writing and editing.

Students can round out their studies with co-curricular experiences such as internships or job shadowing. The UNI Pre-law Club will also provide students with opportunities to meet lawyers and talk to them about their work and career.

Other resources:

LSAC site on preparing for law school: https://lsac.org/jd/thinking-about-law-school/standard-curriculum