By Rachel Madhogarhia - Harvard-Westlake School - NextGenVest Global Ambassador - California
So you’ve decided that you want to be a lawyer. What now? What can you do during your undergraduate years to prepare for law school?Interestingly, there are no actual “pre-law” requirements like medical school’s pre-med requirements. However, many schools have pre-law tracks consisting of classes that help prepare students looking to attend law school after completion of their undergraduate degrees.The American Bar Association (ABA) recommends students take classes that develop research, writing, and analytic skills. In college, you may be assigned a pre-law advisor who will help you select courses.The ABA also suggests you find opportunities outside school that will enhance your skills in areas such as problem solving, critical reading, communication, research, writing, management, and collaboration. In addition, experience that imparts an overall exposure to law and our justice system in the U.S. is invaluable.The Pre-Law Advisors National Council (PLANC) serves to help students who have identified as pre-law. Their website, for example, has podcasts and videos to expose and inform pre-law students about various legal information. Major recommended for pre-law students include History, English, Philosophy, Political Science, Economics, and Business.Travis Fife, a third year pre-law student at UCLA, currently majors in Philosophy with a minor in English, and plans to practice Intellectual Property Law. I interviewed him about his decision and advice to students thinking about being pre-law in college.
When did you decide to become pre-law? Why?
I decided to be pre law at the end of last year because I realized that some of the questions raised by studying law could be really interesting. Mostly, though, I want a career that challenges me to continue working harder.
Originally I wanted to go to grad school to become a professor. However, I haven’t really found my niche within studying philosophy and I couldn’t see myself doing it as a career. One day I hope to be a professor of the law (or philosophy), but for now law school is the best option for me.
Did you pick your major knowing you were going to be pre-law?
I didn’t pick philosophy to become a lawyer. People have told me to become a lawyer since I was little but I’ve always enjoyed philosophy.
I chose the major and have maintained it because I think there’s inherent value to studying it. Luckily, the skills it teaches also apply to law school.
The LSAT (Law School Admission Test) tests your ability to think critically and construct/deconstruct arguments. These are also necessary skills for the practice of philosophy.
Are you doing anything outside of school to prepare for law school?
Outside of school I teach debate for Harvard-Westlake School, I’m president of a fraternity, and I write opinion pieces for the Daily Bruin.
To be honest, these all probably help me in some way for law school through the skills they teach, but at the end of the day I don’t really do anything solely because I think it will help me get into law school.
I do things that I enjoy or find meaningful and it just so happens that those things are also really good at preparing you for law school.
Do you have any advice for students thinking about becoming pre-law?
Pursue what you are interested in for no other reason then you enjoy doing it, and then think about law school.
I know that’s hard to do in practice but if you let your decision to go to law school develop organically rather than forcing it as soon as you get to college, you’ll have a better idea of knowing if it’s right for you.