Academic Preparation for Law School | College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

Academic Preparation for Law School

At the University of North Texas, there is no prescribed pre-law curriculum. "Pre-law" simply denotes a student's intention to pursue admission to law school following completion of the undergraduate degree. Because the careers of those trained in law vary widely and therefore call for widely differing skills, law schools do not generally recommend any particular major. However, according to the Pre-law Advisors National Council, "there is a common consensus that a broad based academic experience well grounded in the liberal arts provides the best preparation for law school."

Pre-law students should develop a set of useful skills transferable to the law school setting: critical thinking, problem-solving, and synthesis. The spoken and written word are the principal tools of the legal profession. Those who intend to study law must develop an excellent knowledge and grasp of the English language as well as a clear and concise style of expression. Students should seek out courses that require substantial research and writing assignments and that provide critiques of those skills.

Courses in literature, foreign language, speech, composition, philosophy, and logic can develop the analytical skills necessary for success in law school and the legal profession. Furthermore, the study of history, political science, economics and statistics helps students to understand the structure of society and the problems of social ordering with which the law is concerned. The examination of human behavior in sociology and psychology will aid a prospective law student in understanding the human behavior with which law is involved. The systematic ordering of abstractions and ideas acquired by studying logic, mathematics, statistics and the sciences contributes to a student's capacity to analyze and rationally organize his or her thoughts.

Finally, courses focused on the law can serve dual purposes. First, case-oriented classes can either solidify a student's choice of a legal career, or make a student realize that law is not a good fit for them before they invest time in money in law school. Second, these courses provide a sample of what the first year law student will experience, making the transition to law school easier.

In choosing a major, students should choose a discipline that genuinely interests them and in which they will be motivated to produce their best work. They should, however, avoid any undergraduate major that is narrowly focused on specific vocations, or those majors which will not challenge them to reach their fullest academic potential. What counts most is the intensity and depth of the undergraduate program, demonstrating a capacity to perform well at an academically rigorous level. Double or triple majoring or choosing one or more minors will make very little difference in your admissions decisions, but may enrich (or restrict) your intellectual growth and exploration.

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