If you know you want to be a lawyer, the work doesn’t start in law school. It starts right now, during undergrad. There are several ways you can prepare for a bright legal future before ever stepping foot in law school, and we’re here to help:
1) Pick a smart major…
While undergraduates with all types of majors gain admission to law school, it’s important to pick the one that will best prepare you for law school. You should major in something…
…That You Like
School is hard. But if you pick a major you actually enjoy studying, it’ll be way easier to put in all those hours at the library.
…That You Excel At
You need top grades to get into a good law school, so you should major in a subject in which you’ll earn top marks. For reference, the median GPA for Columbia Law School’s class of 2020 was 3.7, while the median GPA for Michigan Law School’s class of 2020 was 3.8.
…That Works the Right Brain Muscles
You want to put yourself in the optimal position to ace the LSAT and to succeed in law school. Taking classes that train your brain to think like a lawyer will help with both. Majoring in philosophy, history, and political science are obvious and popular choices, as is majoring in English, since strong reading, writing, and research skills are clutch for life in the legal lane. STEM majors are a great way to help your brain with logic. Plus, they’re increasingly attractive to law schools admissions officers aiming to assemble diverse student bodies.
…That Correlates to Success
If you like to make decisions based on probability, consider majoring in a subject that’s correlated with high rates of admission to law school. According to data published by LSAC, which administers the LSAT, test takers in the 2015-2016 school year who majored in the following topics had 80% or higher rates of acceptance to law school: Political Science, English, History, Economics, Philosophy, International Relations, and Biology. The overwhelming number of people who took the LSAT in that year were Political Science majors, followed by History, Psychology, English, and Criminal Justice majors.
…That Stands Out
If you prefer to stand out from the pack, ditch the political science major and major in Theater, Nuclear Engineering, Theology, or whatever floats your boat. Doing so will make you stand out to admissions officers who want student bodies that will challenge each other, not all think the same way. No matter what you major in, as long as you commit yourself to studying hard, you can prepare yourself for the rigors of law school.
2) Build Smart Study Habits
Succeeding as a law student requires studying your heart out. Give yourself a leg up by cultivating smart study habits now so that you’re prepared to master the material in law school from day one. From perfecting your time management skills to avoiding procrastination, if you make good study habits the norm, you’ll be setting yourself up for success.
Do this by downloading apps like Memrise to help you master important terms and facts, Exam Proctor to help simulate the test environment, and Cold Turkey—which will block time-wasting sites for a certain amount of time—to cut down on distractions. This, coupled with the right LSAT prep, can make or break your scores.
And don’t forget that good study habits aren’t just about studying the material. They extend to managing your life well. Prioritize a healthy sleep and eating regimen so that when you are studying, you’re energized and focused.
3) Keep Track of Dates
The LSAT is only given 6 times a year. Put your test date on the calendar well ahead of time, and add reminders 6 months, 3 months, 1 month, and then every week leading up to the test.
Crosscheck the date you plan to take the LSAT with the dates by which the schools you’re applying to require you to have taken the test.
Some law schools also accept the GRE, which is offered much more frequently. Check the dates for the GRE and cross-reference them with your application deadlines and requirements.
4) Make a Financial Plan
College is expensive, and—spoiler alert—so is law school. If you know you’re going to law school, start planning accordingly now. Talk with a financial advisor and see how recent law school graduates approached their finances to get advice. Research scholarship options on sites like ScholarshipOwl, Scholly, and fastweb! to see how you can cut down on costs. Take into account the type of lawyer you want to be and the paycheck you can expect so that you go into law school with your eyes open. You need to know how you’re going to pay for your education and how that education is going to pay off, literally.
Planning is the best antidote to stress, so consider these four ways to prepare for law school and you’re off to a smooth start!