Ask any college admissions officer about the “pre-law” program at their school. You will likely get the same answer: there is no pre-law major or any other specific college major that is required for law school admissions.
Some colleges offer guidance than others. Siena College, located near Albany, New York, has a Pre-Law Certificate Program. While this program has no required courses, it has a recommended set of classes in writing, communications, mathematics and philosophy that are meant to help students develop skills that may help them to prepare for the LSAT as well as to succeed after being admitted to law school.
Located close to one state capital, Albany, and not far from another, Springfield, Massachusetts, Siena’s approach represents one of the better models for pre-law advising that I have learned about during campus visits. This is not limited to academic advising but also mentoring, a Mock Trial program, Summer Legal Fellows program, a Distinguished Jurist in Residence. While Siena is a liberal arts college, it also coordinates 4-3 early admission programs with three law schools.
Siena’s pre-law advisor is a faculty member. Other schools handle pre law advising differently. Some, like Dickinson College (PA), handle this quite well through their career development center. The University of Richmond (VA) combines faculty advising and career development to coordinate academic preparation, extracurricular and internship opportunities and the law school admission process.
But even when students attend schools as helpful as these, they still have the responsibility for researching and crafting their pre-law experience. While many college students set admission to law school as an educational objective, their pre-law experiences are not all the same. Below are five tips to help prospective attorneys craft their own.
Law school graduates do move into rewarding careers after they finish their degree. However, law school is not the best place to “find yourself” if you have not considered your options before you decide to come. A law degree is important for understanding the law and how it applies to the clients you represent. However, it is not the best professional development program for someone who wants to learn how to manage a business, non-profit or government agency, other than a law firm or a legal department. The law school experience will work out for the better when you craft the best possible pre-law experience in college.
Need help in combining career planning with your college or graduate school search? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 609-406-0062.
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