What Undergraduate Classes Prepare You For Law School?
You may have the misconception that all law students received typical “prelaw” like of undergraduate degrees, like political science or history. While many law students do major in those areas, law students from virtually all academic disciplines – from music to mathematics, engineering or theater! Students with diverse academic backgrounds offer a range of experiences and perspectives that are valuable in a law school environment and accordingly sought after by law school admissions offices.
For that reason, there is no single or “correct” path to law school. However, there are classes that can help build fundamental writing skills, sharpen analytical thinking skills, and enhance your understanding of specifics subjects that will serve you well in law school. Other undergrad classes may help prepare you for law school by providing background for future areas of law you may be interested in pursuing. In this post, we discuss classes that prepare you for law school and offer six of our top recommendations!
What Undergraduate Classes Prepare You For Law School?
1. Advanced Writing Classes
Depending on your major or school, most of your classes might be centered on writing. For many students in the STEM or Business fields, essay writing may not be part of your classes at all. Writing is an essential part of law school and an essential part of lawyering. Advanced writing classes prepare you for law school because you’ll be expected to foster or hone whatever writing skills you have.
No matter your major, try taking a writing course that you think will challenge you. For social science majors maybe that means taking an upper-level seminar on a topic you don’t know much about. For STEM or Business students, maybe that means seeking out an upper-level History or Political Science class, for example.
Talk to an academic advisor at your school to find out what will suit you best. If you see a course listed that interests you, try emailing the professor and explaining your interest in the class. The professor might be able to share a syllabus with you or explain how writing is a part of the class. If writing isn’t your strong suit, try to take more than one advanced writing class if your schedule allows it. Becoming a good writer takes practice!
2. Philosophy Classes
Your undergraduate institution probably has a lot of Philosophy classes to choose from. No matter which Philosophy course you decide to take, you’ll be challenged to think critically, use logic, and construct coherent arguments. These are vital skills that you’ll use in law school and as a practicing attorney. Whether they focus on ancient or more modern Philosophy, these classes prepare you for law school because they force you to examine complex theories. These ideas may be new to you, and they often present intellectual challenges you’ll be forced to overcome.
If that all sounds a bit too philosophical for you, keep in mind there are other ways Philosophy classes prepare you for law school. Often, university Philosophy departments have classes in Ethics or Logic. The legal ethics you’ll apply every day in practice will vary from the Ethics taught in a Philosophy course. However, exposure to the topic might, for example, give you some insight into how morality and the law do or do not coincide. Alternatively, Logic courses are incredibly practical in preparing for the LSAT and for law school. You engage in logical reasoning every day, so it can’t hurt to have a better understanding of it!
In general, Philosophy undergraduate classes prepare you for law school because they force you to understand complex, often unfamiliar ideas. Law students and lawyers do this every day. Laws are sometimes complex or unclear. The more comfortable you are navigating uncertainty, the more comfortable you’ll be as a law student!
3. History, Government, Politics Classes
This category of classes is probably unsurprising to students hoping to attend law school. Traditionally, students have been told that History, Government, and Political Science classes prepare you for law school. That’s because they do in a lot of ways! Specifically, if you take classes focused on the United States, you’ll learn the building blocks of our country’s law and governance.
Law school classes will be specifically focused on the law rather than American history or the structure of the U.S. government. Still, it will be useful to have the background information undergraduate classes provide. For example, in a law school, Constitutional Law class your professor might spend two classes discussing the Equal Protection Clause. Imagine what a greater understanding of the topic you will have if you’ve taken a History or Political Science class focused on the Civil Rights Movement. Undergraduate classes in History, Government, and Politics will provide in-depth background knowledge that some of your classmates may not have. These classes may also give you practice in reading actual case law which is a great skill to have going into law school.
Finally, as with any discipline in the social sciences, you’ll likely be expected to do a lot of writing. You may also be required to do a bit of research. It should come as no surprise that these are important skills to have in law school too! Being comfortable with researching and writing will put you one step ahead at the start of law school.
4. Economics and Business Classes
These classes prepare you for law school because they offer practical knowledge of commercial operations. They also provide you with a unique perspective on the world and the legal field. Political Science and History classes offer awesome background information for classes like Constitutional Law and Criminal Procedure. In contrast, Economics and Business classes offer good background information for classes like Contracts, Commercial Sales, Business Organizations, and Tax Law.
Depending on the extent of your Economics or Business background, these classes may also be helpful to you in seeking employment during law school. For example, majoring in Finance may help you secure a summer position at a firm whose clients are mostly banks. In fact, Economics is one of the most common majors of law school applicants. If you aren’t majoring in Economics or Business, try taking a class in a related field. You may find you enjoy it, and we’re sure you’ll utilize what you learn in law school!
5. Sociology Classes
Sociology, like Economics or History provides you with a unique perspective on the world and the law. These classes prepare you for law school because you’ll be asked to think about the world we live in and how it affects us. Perhaps you’ll gain a greater understanding of how people of different races, classes, or genders perceive or experience the world we live in. That certainly means you’ll have a greater understanding of how the law affects these different people’s lives. This perspective can make you a more effective and compassionate law student and future advocate in any field!
6. Latin Classes
When you think of classes that prepare you for law school, I doubt your first thought was “Latin class”. It may seem silly, but I wish I entered law school with more than my rudimentary high school Latin class knowledge! It isn’t crucial that you know Latin to be a good law student, but it can certainly help. Case law is filled with Latin phrases. During my first year of law school, it seemed I had to open my law dictionary every other paragraph while reading for class. We definitely suggest taking some of the classes listed above before you take a Latin class. That said, if it interests you, you’d be surprised how helpful a Latin class can be for law school!
Before you completely change around your plan for undergrad, remember that law schools do not require you to take specific classes. Like we mentioned earlier, successful law students come from all types of different academic backgrounds. Many law students even enter law school after spending years in another career. Law schools are looking for well-rounded candidates that demonstrate they will be able to keep up with the rigor of law school. This means you should challenge yourself to take a class you wouldn’t normally take but keep your end goal of attending law school in mind. Your GPA and LSAT score are will still be extremely important.
Classes that prepare you for law school are those that you enjoy and those that challenge you!