Note: Because no particular course of study is required to go to law school, undergraduate students will choose a major and receive guidance on the specific requirements for their particular major from a departmental advisor.
Law schools in the United States require a bachelor’s degree by the starting date of law study. They neither prescribe a particular course of undergraduate study nor favor applicants who have graduated from a formal pre-law program.
Students interested in attending law school should choose their majors based on their own personal and academic interests and abilities. Although many students who plan to become lawyers study political science, English, history, or philosophy, it is not a disadvantage when applying to law school to have majored in architecture, biology, business, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, or other subjects. Virginia Tech students from broad range of majors apply to law schools and are accepted at rates exceeding national averages.
Almost all accredited law schools in the United States require applicants to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and to register for the Credential Assembly Service (CAS). Information on the LSAT and CAS, including test dates, how to register, and registration deadlines, is available at www.LSAC.org. Students who plan to go directly to law school should generally plan to take the LSAT in the summer between their junior or senior years or the first time it is offered in the fall of their senior year.
Admission to law school is competitive, based primarily on a student’s grades and LSAT scores. It is important for pre-law students to devote themselves to getting good grades from the beginning of their undergraduate studies. When applying, it is critical to select an appropriate range of law schools. It is also a good idea to begin planning early for the typically high costs of law school.
Law schools and academic advisors are reluctant to recommend particular courses or majors to undergraduates as preparation for law school. Pre-law students should choose a major they find interesting, as they are likely to receive higher grades in classes that interest them. In addition, it is a good idea for students to take electives that will enhance and develop skills related to success in legal study.
The study and practice of law typically depend on careful analysis of written texts and on effective oral communication. Law schools also place a premium on critical thinking and analytic reasoning. To the extent possible, it is advisable for pre-law students to take courses that emphasize these skills. Background knowledge in history, the social sciences, and the basics of business associations and accounting will also prove useful to law students.
Virginia Tech has an active undergraduate chapter of Phi Alpha Delta, an international legal society. All students interested in a legal career are invited to join. This organization sponsors many activities of potential interest to pre-law students, including individual talks and group panels of attorneys, judges, law students, law school admissions officers, and other legal professionals.