Curriculum and majors
Law schools do not "require" or "prefer" one major over another. They are looking to build a diverse class with students from varied backgrounds, interests, and experiences. Law schools do not expect applicants to follow a set curriculum. There are no specific classes that law school applicants need to complete prior to matriculation. Strong candidates are intelligent and motivated students with strong communication and analytical skills who have taken classes focusing on a variety of subjects. Many undergraduates pursue majors commonly associated with preparation for law school such as business, economics, English, history, philosophy, or political science, while others pursue majors in fields as diverse as art history, biology, engineering, psychology, sociology, computer science, and nursing. Some pre-law students choose to major in a discipline closely aligned with the type of law they are interested in pursuing. For example:
- humanities majors, such as English and history, for students interested in litigation
- biology, chemistry, environmental studies, geology, or environmental geology for students interested in environmental law
- engineering or science majors for students interested in intellectual property law
- accounting, management, statistics, mathematics, or economics for students interested in corporate law, tax law, and/or white collar crime
- psychology or sociology for students interested in family law, juvenile law, children’s rights, and defense or prosecution of crimes
Bottom line: Pursue your passion, study hard, hone your communication, research, and analytical skills, and you will be a strong law school applicant.
How do I prepare for law school?
According to the Law School Admissions Council, "Law schools want students who can think critically and write well, and who have some understanding of the forces that have shaped the human experience. These attributes can be acquired in any number of college courses, whether in the arts and humanities, the social sciences, or the natural sciences. An undergraduate career that is narrowly based or vocationally oriented may not be the best preparation for law school. As long as you receive an education including critical analysis, logical reasoning, and written and oral expression, the range of acceptable college majors is very broad. What counts is the intensity and depth of your undergraduate program and your capacity to perform well at an academically rigorous level."
The American Bar Association recommends that law school applicants familiarize themselves with several areas of knowledge. Each of these areas is an important component of the general education requirements available to all students pursing any undergraduate degree at Case Western Reserve University:
- A broad understanding of history, including the various factors (social, political, economic, and cultural) that have influenced the development of our society in the United States.
- A fundamental understanding of political thought and of the contemporary American political system.
- Some basic mathematical and financial skills, such as an understanding of basic pre-calculus mathematics and an ability to analyze financial data.
- A basic understanding of human behavior and social interaction.
- An understanding of diverse cultures within and beyond the United States, of international institutions and issues, of world events, and of the increasing interdependence of the nations and communities within our world.
Law schools look for prospective students with the following attributes and skills:
- Demonstrated academic ability, motivation, and persistence
- Strong analytical skills, written communication skills, organizational skills, and oral communication skills
- Independent and original/creative thinking ability
- Research experience
- Sound judgment
- Strong problem-solving skills
- Significant personal initiative
- Demonstrated leadership abilities
- Demonstrated concern for others
- Energetic energy
- Emotional maturity
To-Do List for First-Year Students Interested in Law School
- Explore and take courses that are genuinely interesting regardless of whether or not they fall into fields associated with the legal profession. Consider trying courses that you know nothing about!
- Send an email to Pre-Law Advisor, Professor Terri Mester at firstname.lastname@example.org, and request to be included on Blackboard and the pre-law database.
- Attend presentations given by admission directors, law professors, judges and prominent local attorneys on topics of interest to anyone considering a career in law. These talks are sponsored by Undergraduate Studies and will most likely be held on Fridays during the Community Hour (12:45 – 2 p.m.). Be sure to check your email and contact Terri Mester for more details at the beginning of the fall semester.
- Attend presentations, lectures, mock trials, and moot court sessions at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.
- Review the pre-law page to learn more about trends in law school acceptance rates, the current legal market, pre-law resources in print and on the web, and strategies to meet your educational and professional goals.
- Consider joining student organizations with a variety of focuses (not only legally focused) to explore academic interests, develop leadership skills, and to HAVE FUN! Also, consider joining Phi Alpha Delta, the undergraduate chapter of the international legal fraternity, and/or CWRU’s mock trial team.
- Volunteer in a legal environment such as an attorney’s office, the Cuyahoga County or City of Cleveland Prosecutor’s Office, a legal department of a business such as Fifth Third Bank or the Cleveland Clinic, the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, the American Civil Liberties Union, etc.
- Explore opportunities for study abroad. Watch for announcements about study abroad information sessions in the fall and spring semesters.
- Explore opportunities to engage in research by talking to your professors and advisors and through the SOURCE (Support of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors) Office.
- During your first year, meet at least once with Pre-Law Advisor Terri Mester to discuss your interests and goals related to the legal profession. To schedule an appointment call 216.368.2928 or stop by the Office of Undergraduate Studies in Sears Building 357.