13 Courses You Need to Prepare for Law School

13 Courses You Need to Prepare for Law School

10 minute read

Navigating the path to law school starts with the courses you take during your undergraduate years, leading you eventually to the Law School Admission Tests (LSATs) and your law school application. In this guide, we'll explore the courses you can take at college that will lay the groundwork for a successful transition to law school.

Whether you’re still in high school and already thinking about becoming a lawyer or working on your bachelor’s degree, learn what it takes to prep for law school.

When Should You Start Preparing for Law School?

It’s never too early to start thinking about law school! Although law school comes after you’ve earned your bachelor’s degree, you can begin preparing while still in high school by taking certain classes or joining specific clubs and teams, which we’ll discuss below.

How to Prepare for Law School in High School: Skill Building

Although high school classes don’t directly affect law school admission, you can make some strategic choices to help pave the way for success. When you can, take courses that foster critical thinking, such as philosophy or advanced literature. Engage in extracurricular activities like speech and debate to enhance your communication skills. These activities not only develop valuable life skills but also make your college application stand out.

When you’re ready to apply to college, choose one with a robust curriculum of classes that can help you get into law school. This kind of early preparation will lay the groundwork for a competitive edge when you apply to law school after earning your bachelor's degree.

How to Prepare for Law School in College: Can You Be “Pre-Law?”

The beginning of college is the perfect time to start preparing for law school. Although there is no official "pre-law" designation, certain courses and majors are more beneficial than others in preparing you for applying to law school. Disciplines like political science, philosophy, or criminal justice can help refine your critical thinking and analytical skills.

Even though the term "pre-law" is not universally recognized, some universities, especially those with law schools, may offer unofficial pre-law pathways. Academic advisors can guide you toward recommended courses or programs tailored for aspiring lawyers. We advise consulting your academic advisor early on to customize your college journey so that you take advantage of all available resources to prepare effectively for your future legal career.

13 Recommended Classes for Law School Prep

As we’ve said, there’s really no such thing as “pre-law.” However, law schools generally look for specific courses of study from an applicant’s undergraduate education. The following courses aren’t prerequisites set in stone for all law schools, but they can certainly look great on your application.

Keep in mind, too, that every law school is different and will have its own criteria. GPA is usually more important than the actual classes you take. If you’re interested in attending law school, you should familiarize yourself with the ones you’re considering applying to early on. This will give you a better idea of what to study as an undergrad.

Finally, you’ll also need to take the LSATs when you apply to law school, but we’ll discuss that in greater detail below.

1. Advanced Writing

Advanced writing courses help you improve your writing, which you’ll do a lot of in the legal profession. These courses enable you to explore complex forms of written communication, such as legal briefs, persuasive arguments, and document drafting. As a legal professional, you’ll need full mastery of these skills for effective representation of clients. 

2. American History

For undergraduates contemplating law school, a robust knowledge of American history is instrumental in understanding the U.S. legal system. Your courses in American history should focus on the evolution of our constitutional principles, specific landmark legal decisions, and the societal forces that shape the legal system. Classes in American history contribute to a well-rounded legal education and foster a deeper understanding of the intricacies of the American legal system.

3. American Government

Taking a course in American government is particularly beneficial because it provides an in-depth understanding of the legal and political framework within which the legal profession operates. You’ll also explore the roles and responsibilities of the different branches of government and how they interact with each other in order to maintain a balance of power. You’ll need this kind of nuanced comprehension of the legal system's broader context to navigate the complexities of legal practice.

4. Business

Although it may not seem relevant to law school, business often intertwines with legal matters. Topics such as contracts, corporate law, and business ethics are covered so you get a foundational knowledge base in legal contexts. Not only will you broaden your perspective on the intersection of law and business, but you’ll also enhance your ability to navigate the intricate legal landscape within corporate environments.

5. Communications

Lawyers of all specialties are required to possess excellent communication skills. A communications class is designed to polish both verbal and written communication skills. If you’re an undergrad aspiring to become a lawyer, this course can help you develop the ability to articulate complex ideas with persuasion. You’ll learn techniques for effective public speaking and rational argumentation. A strong foundation in communication skills can enhance a future lawyer's capacity to present compelling cases and negotiate effectively.

6. Criminal Justice

Even those who don’t plan to become a criminal attorney should take a criminal justice course. This foundation will not only enrich your legal education but also foster a deeper understanding of the social and ethical dimensions that lawyers navigate. This course usually involves a thorough examination of law enforcement and the judicial process, which is essential for all types of lawyers to know. You’ll have the opportunity to explore the intricacies of our legal system's response to different kinds of crime and its impact on society. You’ll gain valuable insights into legal procedures, constitutional rights, and the ethical dilemmas sometimes encountered in the legal field. 

7. Economics

By studying economics, you’ll acquire a basic understanding of the fundamental principles of economic systems, market dynamics, and supply and demand. This course should provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the economic factors that have an impact on legal decision-making. You’ll understand topics such as contract law, antitrust regulation, and the financial implications of legal frameworks, which can enhance your overall analytical abilities. Moreover, an economics course will broaden your understanding of the economic forces that shape all kinds of legal landscapes.

8. Philosophy

Philosophy courses are fantastic for developing the critical thinking and ethical reasoning skills you’ll need as a lawyer. You’ll also get an opportunity to enhance your analytical and argumentative skills. By tackling ethical dilemmas and participating in rigorous philosophical discussions, you'll cultivate a well-rounded perspective that extends beyond the legal field. A strong philosophy course not only leads to a deep understanding of the theoretical foundations of law but also improves your ability to construct sound arguments.

9. Political Science

Taking a political science (or “poly-sci”) course lets you dive deep into the complexities of government structures, political ideologies, and the dynamics of global politics. This course offers a political perspective on legal frameworks for those interested in a legal career. During your study of constitutional law, government structures, and the intersections of politics and law, you'll gain valuable insights into the forces influencing legal decisions.

10. Psychology

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in law, studying psychology can provide you with useful observations into how the human factor affects the legal system. This will not only improve your analytical skills but also give you a unique perspective on the human dynamics involved in legal practice.

11. Public Speaking

Improving your public speaking abilities is a significant aspect of realizing your potential as a legal professional. By enrolling in a public speaking course, you’ll learn effective spoken communication, including clarity, confidence, and persuasive delivery. The practical exercises, debates, and presentations in public speaking classes will help you become proficient in convincingly communicating legal arguments.

12. Sociology

Sociology explores human societies, institutions, and social structures. You'll study criminology, social justice, and the impact of inequality on legal outcomes. This course should equip you with the nuanced perspective you’ll need to address legal challenges in diverse and dynamic social contexts.

13. Statistics

A statistics course will teach you how to analyze and interpret data effectively. This skill can be handy for aspiring lawyers as they learn methods relevant to legal research and analysis. Topics such as probability, hypothesis testing, and regression analysis teach you how to assess legal evidence so you can make informed decisions. 

What Else Do I Need to Do to Prepare for Law School?

Taking courses that will help you develop the skills you need for law school is just part of the process. Keep in mind that you’ll also need to fill out your law school application and take the LSATs. Make sure you spend time studying for the LSATs and crafting a compelling application.

Begin your preparation for the LSATs (Law School Admission Tests) well in advance, utilizing study resources such as official LSAT prep materials, practice exams, and review courses. 

Consider internships, as many law firms use these experiences to assess potential hires. These internships not only provide practical insights into the legal profession but also serve as valuable additions to your application. They can also be great opportunities to learn from and network with mentors and future peers.

When it comes to the law school application process, start by crafting a compelling personal statement that reflects your passion for the law and how your academic and extracurricular experiences have prepared you for legal studies. Secure letters of recommendation from professors or professionals who can attest to your capabilities and dedication.

You might also consider reading some of the following books to help you better understand the culture of law school and the world of being a lawyer:

  • IL Of A Ride: A Well-Traveled Professor's Roadmap to Success in the First Year of Law School, by Andrew J. McClurg

  • Getting To Maybe: How To Excel On Law School Exams, by Richard Michael Fischl And Jeremy Paul

  • The Happy Lawyer: Making a Good Life in the Law, by Nancy Levit And Douglas O. Linder

  • One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School, by Scott Turow

While law school demands a certain level of commitment, it doesn’t have to be intimidating. It's a rigorous three-year journey followed by the challenging bar exam. But if you stay focused, seek support from mentors and peers, and utilize resources offered by your law school, you can enjoy a successful and fulfilling legal education. Remember, preparation, dedication, and a passion for justice will guide you through this transformative and rewarding experience.

Start Prepping for Your Career With StraighterLine

Start earning undergrad credits for some of the courses we mentioned and set yourself on the right path toward law school and a thriving legal career. 

StraighterLine is an excellent way for college and even high school students to earn credits in the courses law schools look for the most. These credits are transferable to over 150 partner schools and thousands of other schools through ACE

Check out how StraighterLine can help you earn credits on your schedule for a fraction of the tuition at most 4-year institutions.

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