Pre-Law

Pre-law at UMD

Students may declare themselves as pre-law to inform their advisor of their intention to pursue law school and be advised appropriately. When students reach 45 credits they will declare their major. The pre-law program at UMD is housed within the History, Political Science, and International Studies Department.

Admission to law school requires a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree or its equivalent. Well-balanced Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Business Administration programs are accepted as the equivalent of the B.A. degree by most law schools.

Although law schools do not recommend any particular major any current MAJOR will provide potential pre-law students with a well-rounded education. Students are advised to plan a broad undergraduate degree. Electives should be chosen in areas outside the major field to develop and demonstrate multiple competencies in varying subjects and methods.

Whatever the specialty, a professional career in law requires the communication of ideas and information through words. Success in law school, as well as in subsequent professional practice, depends to a great extent on the capacity for effective writing and speaking. Therefore, students are encouraged to take courses that require considerable reading, writing, and independent thinking, and they should develop through coursework or activities their capacity for expressing themselves verbally.

Advisement

Advisement from the UMD program highlight key courses all students interested in prelaw should take:

Year 1 - POL 1011 American Government and Politics, POL 1610 Intro to Political Theory
Year 2 - POL 1800 Mock Trial, PHIL 1018 Logic and/or PHIL 1008 Critical Thinking
Year 3 - fall: POL 3150 American Constitutional Law I, spring: POL 3151 American Constitutional Law II

Information About Law Schools

Getting as much information as you can about law schools is an important first step before beginning the application process. In deciding where to apply (and where to enroll), you are making a decision that could have profound effects on your future career, and your life—so you want to get it right. Below are links to information that should help you in making good decisions.

U.S. News and World Report Law School Rankings

Brian Leiter’s Law School Reports

Boston College On-line Law School Locator: This site lists the 25th to 75th percentile LSAT scores and GPA ranges of first year classes at accredited law schools

Wall Street Journal Article

Law Schools

Selecting what law schools to apply to (and ultimately to enroll in) is an important decision that should be carefully thought out after getting as much information as possible in order to make a good (and realistic) match between your career aspirations and what each school has to offer. Resources available through this pre-law website, including the UMD pre-law advisors that you can find here, can help you make this decision.

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Preparing and Applying to Law School

Most applicants to law school are required to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). There is no one way to prepare for this exam, but every applicant should do some degree of preparation—showing up to take the exam “cold” without knowing anything about it is not a recipe for success. Here is a useful link that will help prospective law students prepare for the LSAT: LSAT Blog

Applying to law school in the U.S. is now centralized through the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), the organization that also administers the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) that most law school applicants are required to take. Applicants need to file only one application and supporting documentation that will be made by available by LSAC to those law schools to which you have applied. Here is the link to the LSAC: Law School Admission Council (LSAC)

Bar Associations

The practice of law in the U.S. requires one to be licensed by a designated agency in the state where the practice is conducted, usually after taking and passing a bar exam. In many states, the state bar association does the licensing, but some states have a separate agency that accomplished this. Below is a list of bar associations for Minnesota and nearby states. You will note that Minnesota has a separate Board of Law Examiners that does the licensing.

American Bar Association (ABA)

Minnesota State Bar Association

Minnesota State Board of Law Examiners

State Bar of North Dakota

State Bar of South Dakota

State Bar of Wisconsin

Careers in Law

Career opportunities for law school graduates are many and varied. Many graduates start their own law practices, either as sole practitioners or in partnership with others. Other graduates enter into practice employed by private law firms or work for business entities that have in-house counsel. Others work for public interest law firms or non-profit organizations. Still others work as attorneys for federal, state, or local governmental agencies in varied capacities, such as public prosecutors, public defenders, or agency department counsel. Some work for legislative bodies and others for courts. Many law graduates go on to careers in government, business, and the nonprofit sector that do not involve the practice of law. Some graduates go into politics. 

Forbes - Careers in Law (Dec 2022)