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Getting on the Pre-Law Path from High School

  • Learn How to Learn


    The key to college admission and law school admission is the same as the key to meaningful law practice. It is to learn how to learn. Attorneys spend a tremendous amount of time learning new material. If you don’t have a genuine curiosity and enjoy learning, a legal career may frustrate you. As soon as you realize that you want to attend law school, start the process of becoming a life-long learner.

    One of the first things that you can do is to fill as many spots on your schedule as you can with learning. When possible, include each year’s courses in English, mathematics, and science. The only reason to not have a full load is that you also need to take time to understand the material you are studying which should be reflected in a high-grade point average.

    This may require limiting or at least concentrating your extracurricular activities. While you do want to strive to be a well-rounded person, it is better to concentrate in one extracurricular activity and maintain good study habits than it is to be spread out among several extracurricular activities and only maintain average grades.

    Develop disciplined study skills and make academic excellence a priority:

    • Read How to Be a High School Superstar by Cal Newport.
    • When you earn a low grade, respectfully approach your teacher and work with them until you understand what you did wrong and how you can improve.
    • Likewise, when you get the correct answer, make sure you understand why you got it right.
    • Work to understand the material more than just striving for the grade. The grade will come if you genuinely understand the material. These skills will help you in law school and in a legal career.
  • Reading and Writing Matters


    Reading matters. It is not enough to be a good skimmer of written material. You must develop the skill of reading until you comprehend and can put to use what you have read. Attorneys read to understand a great quantity of material. Start reading now, read every day, and make sure you understand what you are reading.

    Writing matters. It is not enough to scribble a few notes on a pad of paper if even you don’t later understand what you wrote. You should be able to spell correctly, write legibly, and not only understand your own writing but write in such a way that others can understand it.

    After researching, reading, and learning about each case, attorneys must write to be understood. The best way to become a good writer is to write. Start writing now and write something every day.

  • Exercise Your Brain


    Anyone who plays sports exceptionally exercises their body. The same is true of the brain. If you are going to be an exceptional student, exercise the brain.

    The good news is that many of the practices you can do to pursue your interests and improve your grades exercise the brain. For example, use the Feynman Technique to study (Google it to find out how).

    Intentionally exercise your brain.

    As you make preparation for such tests like the ACT, the SAT, the LSAT, and others, your critical thinking will be extremely important. Work through practice tests over and over to check your comprehension and prepare for future testing.

  • Choosing Your Undergraduate College


    It is important to choose an accredited college or university that you can afford, which you will enjoy attending, which will provide you with the program of study you most desire, and which has a strong pre-law program.

    Pick the undergraduate degree that:

    1. interests you, and
    2. compliments your strengths.

    Your undergraduate degree does not have to be related to law.

    Look for a college that has a Pre-Law Program that targets career development as well as academic excellence. The pre-law program on your college campus should be knowledgeable and helpful in their counseling and advising.

  • About Your Major


    Choose a major that is your best and favorite interest.

    It is not necessary for you to major in law of any kind in order to be accepted to law school. In choosing your major just answer this question, “who will I serve?” Pick the major that will best equip you to serve those people.

    Although it is wise to plan for your future, things change. You may be on track today to go to law school and have a life-changing event, or you may simply change your mind. If you have focused your college degree in an area that interests you, an area in which you can serve, it will most likely translate into a meaningful career.

    Students who wait to choose a major in their sophomore year of college generally have the opportunity to take courses across several subjects. Taking a variety of courses will help you know what you truly like and dislike. Taking a variety of courses will help you know your strengths and weakness. Then you will be equipped to make more informed choices about your major(s) and minor(s).

  • Serve


    Remember the question, “who will I serve?” You don’t have to wait to be a lawyer to serve. You can start serving now. When possible, take advantage of opportunities to serve that get you close to law. Of course, you can’t practice law yet but you can participate in activities and programs that get you close to law.

    • Visit Law Programs for Middle School and High School Students provided by the American Bar Association.
    • During school breaks (like in the Summer, Spring Break, etc.) get a job shadowing an attorney in the field you feel like you have an interest in — your local bar association can help with a referral.
    • Attend a pre-law camp.