Law school is one of the most competitive academic programs to get into.
If you’re a high school student considering a career in law, you are wise to begin exploring activities and potential undergraduate majors to help bolster your chances of admission to law school.
You’ll want to start by exploring the skills you need to be a successful attorney and the best college majors for law school.
Skills Needed to Excel in Law School and as a Lawyer
While there isn’t a cookie-cutter background a law school admissions team is looking for, there are certain skills you should hone.
For example, lawyers need to be skilled at finding and gathering information from multiple sources, reading long, complex documents and synthesizing information. Presentation skills are key, too, as lawyers often have to challenge a decision and make persuasive arguments.
The American Bar Association highlights the following core skills that you’ll need as a successful lawyer:
- Problem solving
- Critical reading
- Writing and editing
- Oral communication and listening
- Organization and management
- Public service and promotion of justice
- Relationship-building and collaboration
How can you go about developing these skills?
A combination of extracurricular activities—such as interning in a law office and joining the school debate team—and coursework can help.
Taking AP courses is a good place to start, but college-level courses will better help you explore areas of interest and prepare you to be a strong law school applicant.
How to Choose the Best College Major for Law School
When it comes to selecting an undergraduate major that will prepare you for the rigors of law school, one thing is clear: no major should be ruled out.
As you think about the best major for law school, remember that it’s okay to select an area of study that you enjoy. Pursuing your interests will make studying easier and help you get the grades you need to improve your chances of law school admission.
One of the best ways to see if a specific major is a good fit for your interests and skills is to enroll in a college summer class before you complete high school. For example, if you think you want to specialize in banking or finance law, try an undergraduate introduction to economics class to see if you enjoy it.
Furthermore, taking a few college courses during your high school years is a great opportunity to start developing relationships with faculty members who can write recommendation letters for college admission.
Here are a few of the best college majors for law school:
By studying history, you can develop an understanding of how certain laws and regulations were developed. You may also learn about landmark cases which have set precedents for future cases.
Many future law school applicants may be drawn to political science as an undergraduate major because of the close relationship between politics and legislation. It goes without saying, knowing how the government and judicial systems work is crucial for lawyers.
Understanding stereotypes, prejudice, and human behavior can be helpful for lawyers. During the summer of 2022, for example, Harvard Summer School is offering a course for high school students called Law and Psychology. The course will cover topics such as racial profiling, true and false confessions, and punishment and rehabilitation.
If you want to become a lawyer to help defend people accused of crimes, this major makes a lot of sense. You’ll learn about court proceedings, the corrections system, and the legal system as a whole.
While the relationship between being a lawyer and English may not be quite as obvious as some other majors, the law does require a heavy emphasis on reading and writing. This area of study will help refine your grammar, critical thinking, and overall communication skills. You’ll also develop sophisticated knowledge of culture and society. For example, Harvard Summer School’s course, The Culture of Capitalism, looks at capitalism in the context of literature, theater, and film.
Economic conditions in the world can play a major role in legal reform. A course like Public Finance covers taxation, unemployment insurance, social security, and regulation and focuses on current policy issues.
Studying philosophy will encourage you to flex your logic and reasoning muscles—important skills for lawyers who must back their interpretation of events or material by citing evidence. A class like Introduction to Political Philosophy encompases the purpose of democracy and how to defend it.
Again, there is no surefire undergraduate major, activity, or background that will guarantee you admission to law school.
However, exploring potential majors and relevant areas of interest while you’re still in high school is a great way to discover your strengths and weaknesses and whether you are on the right career track.