Friday, December 01, 2006

The Best Pre-Law Major?

What is the best pre-law major? A lot of people ask this question, and a lot of people are tragically misled. Most people think: “what will prepare me best” but that is the wrong question to be asking. When you pick your pre-law major you should be asking “what will set me apart and what will help me get a job.”

I think a "pre-law" major is a tragic missed opportunity. You have one shot at an undergraduate degree. In law school you will learn more law than you will need. You will have three years to study the Constitution and hone your legal logic. There is no reason to “prepare” for this three year preparation. No undergraduate major will give you an “edge” over your classmates since all of the material will be new to everyone. Use your undergraduate degree to set yourself apart and gain a skill in something in case you decide not to go to law school.

I learned this lesson when I began to look at job postings. Many of them require and undergraduate degree in the sciences or in business. A unique undergraduate degree is a great way to break in to the job market. For instance a degree in computer science could be valuable to a firm with clients in the computer business.

While I have never sat in on a law school admissions committee, I would imagine that in a pool of 50 candidates, if 49 are liberal arts majors and one is a science major, that science major will stick out much more.

Majoring in something like “pre-law” is wasting an opportunity to set yourself apart from your peers both when it comes to getting into law school and (more importantly) getting a job afterwards. I majored in philosophy, and while I more than happy with that decision (if any major prepares you for law, it is philosophy), I do wish now that I had double majored.

If you are sure that you want to major in one of the liberal arts, then do it because you love the subject, and not because you think it will pay off in law school.


annieyan said...

I am entering my last year of school and am still unsure of what major to choose. But my ultimate goal is to become a high-earning lawyer. Problem? I do not know how to get there, oh, and I am a Canadian - well, Ontario high school student..
and I am a female, Asian girl. I know that plays a factor. You can inform me if some other career would be suitable. Honesty would be appreciated. And thank you for your time in case you decided to read this far.

z24skado said...

No offense, but such a post must have been made by someone that didn't have a major that required great critical thinking skills. Learning the Law is not the same as being able to think critically. These skills can be honed at the undergraduate level with a degree in Philosophy. Have you ever heard a person with a Philosophy degree dismantle an argument? It’s very impressive and can’t be done by people with degrees in Business and Computer Science with any comparable skill, even ones with Law Degrees.

If you just want to make money, then by all means major in Business before Law School. But make sure you go to one that costs tons of money because that’s where most the rich kids go that have parents with connections to high paying jobs. There is a Good old’ Boys social network with most law firms and Law Schools. If you want to argue important Constitutional matters or help disadvantaged people, History and Philosophy are your best bet.

Many people want to work for themselves so Business is a good area to major in for that. Biology and Engineering are also good majors, but most Law Students can’t handle the difficulty involved with these majors. The best of both worlds is a major in Business and a minor in Philosophy. The minor in Philosophy with give you a huge advantage on the LSAT and allow you to reason circles around your Business major counter parts in Law School.

Making the most of your undergraduate experience will ensure we don’t end up with “just another lawyer”. You have time in your first year or so of college to decide what you want to do and what you are capable of doing. Many students think Science is a major they can do only to find after the first real course they take at the college level they don’t have what it takes. Anyone that can make it through college can do Law School.