Preparing for Law School
Many students ask how they should be preparing for law school. Should they start preparing while in undergrad? Should they take a law school prep course? Should I take a year off and work for a law firm before going to law school?
These are just some of the questions that students ask. And they are all great questions. You probably don’t need to prepare for law school as much as you think. We will explore the reasons why below.
Must I Prepare for Law School?
It depends on what you mean by prepare. The words “it depends” are ones you will hear quite frequently during your first year of law school. That’s because the law is very fact-intensive and there is not always a definitive answer. That’s why you’re going to law school—to be able to argue one way or the other!
However, let’s talk about what “it depends” means when it comes to preparing for law school.
So if you are coming right out of college and going into law school, that’s great! Law school will come with a lot of work, so it is helpful to be coming out of school knowing what it feels like to have to study in the library on a Friday night.
But, maybe you didn’t have to do that in undergrad…well, then maybe you should prepare yourself. Know that law school isn’t easy, and if you want to do well, you are going to have to put in a lot of time and effort. Therefore, I recommend mentally preparing for law school.
Should you take prelaw classes in undergrad if you want to go to law school?
This is a great question. You don’t have to. In fact, people that go to law school have diverse backgrounds. And, legal employers love to see that you have a unique background.
So, I would actually recommend not majoring in something such as political science if you plan to go to law school.
However, I am not saying that you can’t major in political science and still be successful—many people have. In fact, having a political science background may help you in law school, especially when it comes to understanding the legal terminology. But, studying political science isn’t necessary.
In fact, it could be argued (and rightfully so), that having a science degree will suit you best in law school. Not only will you probably have to work very hard in undergrad if you are a science or engineering major (so you will know how to study hard), but it also opens up opportunities in the area of patent law.
Many law students have at least some background in law, even if their undergrad major isn’t political science. Many law school students worked for a law firm while in undergrad or volunteered at a legal clinic while in undergrad.
I would recommend getting aquatinted with the law in some way, shape, or form. Maybe this means minoring in law.
Maybe this means just meeting with attorneys for lunch. Or maybe this means joining a legal networking association. These are all great ways to begin preparing for law school. But, you do not necessarily have to take prelaw classes if you want to go to law school.
How should I prepare for law school?
So we discussed above a little bit about how you can be preparing for law school in undergrad.
Now, let’s talk about how you can be preparing for that first day of law school if you are a second-career student or if you are already out of college.
Read, read, read.
In law school, you will do a TON of reading. If you are a slow reader like I was, law school can be challenging. Try to pick up a book, any book. The faster you can read and comprehend information, the easier law school will be for you.
Do I have to? I don’t want to do homework before I even go to law school! Surprisingly, no. You actually don’t have to do anything in preparation for law school (minus your first assignments of course).
Law school professors will generally teach you everything you need to know about how to brief a case, how to read a case, how to learn the law from a case, and how to analyze the court’s opinion. No prep is really needed. So, if you want to do some prep, great! But do you have to, nope!
Should I take a law school prep course?
I found it necessary to talk about law school prep courses. Should you be spending a lot of money preparing for law school? No! There are many law school prep courses out there that tell you that you should take their courses in order to be successful.
Let me tell you. You do not need to take a prep course to succeed in law school. In fact, it may actually hurt you if they teach you how to do something and your professor wants you to do it a different way. Or you may just get overwhelmed…like this library picture probably make you feel!
There are prep courses offered by top bar companies — which I absolutely recommend taking a bar prep course. Want to know how to prepare for the bar? Visit the post titled How to Pass the Bar Exam.
Some bar companies such as Barbri also offer law school prep courses such as this one. But honestly, the law school prep courses are often times not worth the money. Why? Because, while you may get ahead of other students who did not take any prep course at all, you will likely learn the same information in law school.
Why pay twice to learn the same thing you’ll learn in law school. If you have extra money laying around that you want to get rid of, sure, spend it on a law school prep course, but it’s not necessary to be successful in law school.
So, what should I do?
So let’s summarize. You don’t need to do anything to prepare for law school. However, if you are in undergrad, it may be helpful to take some law related courses just to get your feet wet.
If you have already graduated from college, get back into the groove of school by just picking up a book—any book—and read, read, read.
But, if you don’t feel like preparing for law school, that’s okay too.
The professors at your law school will likely teach you everything you need to know in order to be successful in law school.