PREPARING FOR A CAREER IN LAW
Students who believe law school is in their future should pursue an undergraduate career to fit their personal talents and interests as well as demonstrate academic rigor. Law schools do not, as a rule, have specific academic requirements for admission, but they are usually impressed by applicants who can demonstrate that they have challenged themselves in a diverse course of study. Since law school admission is extremely competitive, it is important for students to compile a strong undergraduate record. They should plan to take courses of genuine interest, as their best performance should result. With the complexity of legal issues today, both nationally and internationally, a broad liberal arts curriculum is the preferred preparation for law school.
Students enter law school from widely differing educational and experiential backgrounds. As undergraduates, many major in subjects considered to be traditional paths to law school, such as history, English, political science, philosophy, economics, and international relations. Other successful law students, however, have focused their undergraduate studies in areas as diverse as art, computer science, engineering, and music. Student interested in law must understand that choice of an undergraduate major is far less important than the development of important skills and values that can be acquired prior to law school, including analytic and problem-solving skills, critical reading abilities, writing skills, and oral communication and listening abilities. In addition, the aspiring law student will greatly benefit by developing skills in research, organization, and management, having mastery of a second language, and possessing the values of serving the interests of others while promoting justice.
Students entering law school benefit enormously by developing knowledge that can be useful in resolving disputes. This is facilitated by a grounding in economics, a broad understanding of history, a fundamental understanding of political thought, a basic understanding of ethical theory and theories of justice, and fundamental mathematic and financial skills. Pre-law students cannot ignore, however, how important it is to be a student of human behavior and appreciated diverse cultures within the United States and abroad. It is a wonderful, enriching experience for a pre-law student to study abroad! Our goal at Johns Hopkins is to help facilitate the development of these many skills and competencies in pre-law students.
When considering extracurricular activities, law school admissions committees look for significant leadership ability and comprehensive activity. A long term commitment to one or two activities of importance is more impressive than a long list of affiliations.
Law school admissions committees also wish to see success in a standardized test (LSAT), letters of support from faculty who know the student well, and a rich and challenging academic and extracurricular regimen. Regarding the LSAT, to be competitive for a top 10 law school typically requires a minimum GPA of 3.7, with a minimum LSAT score of 170. Please see the Word Document: “The Law School Option” for more information.