This page offers advice for preparing yourself for success in law school and beyond. If you have not read all the information on the page entitled “Get Informed,” then make sure to do so before reading the information on this page. Even while you are preparing for success in law school and as a lawyer, it is important that you give serious thought to the question of whether law school makes sense for you.
Your choice of major is important, but not for the reason many people think. The courses you take as an undergraduate will probably not matter for purposes of getting into law school. Law school admissions committees don’t really care what your major is. To learn what they do care about, see the page called “Get Into Law School.”
The reason your major matters is that it can help prepare you for success in law school and when you practice law. Specifically, the courses you take as an undergraduate can help you prepare for success in two ways:
- Providing you with knowledge about law and the legal system.
- Helping you develop intellectual skills essential for success as a lawyer, such as analytical and logical thinking, efficient reading and comprehension of relatively dense texts, writing skills, and oral communication skills.
It should be made clear that every major has strengths and weaknesses for purposes of law school preparation. No single major is perfect. It is safe to say that some majors–such as Education and Art History–are going to provide few if any benefits for your development into a lawyer, but there is otherwise a wide array of majors that will help lay a foundation of skills and knowledge upon which you will build in law school. If you are aiming to get into a good law school, your final choice of major should probably be based mostly on the discipline you find interesting and at which you tend to excel. After all, your GPA matters (a lot) for getting into law school, and you are likely to have a higher GPA if you take classes you excel at and enjoy.
Here is a list of majors designed specifically for pre-law students:
- B.A. in Political Science – Pre-Law Concentration
- B.I.S. in Law and Society
- B.S. in Criminal Justice – Legal Issues Track
- B.A. in History – Pre-Law Concentration
- B.A. in Philosophy – Pre-Law Concentration
Several excellent pre-law Legal Studies courses are also offered through the Robinson College of Business Department of Risk Management and Insurance. Furthermore, due to its writing intensiveness, English is another major that is considered excellent for preparing for a career in law.
If you are enrolled in the Honors College, and if you began at GSU with 24 to 30 credit hours, then you might consider doing the Accelerated Bachelors and J.D. (aka 3+3) program. With this program, you get to begin your first year of law school (at GSU College of Law) during your senior year, paying only the undergraduate tuition rate. Then you will have only two years remaining to get your law degree.
Finally, most majors offer a dual degree (“4+1”) program that can make sense for high achieving pre-law students. With a 4+1 program, students begin taking graduate courses during their senior year — credit for which count toward both their undergraduate and graduate degrees — and then complete their Masters of Arts (M.A.) degree one year after completing their undergraduate degree. Such programs can help pre-law students in many ways, including providing a more rigorous academic experience, strengthening their academic record and transcript, and enabling students to get to know professors better (who, in turn, can write better letters of recommendation). Furthermore, a 4+1 program can provide undecided students with a low-cost / low-risk opportunity to explore a post-graduate program other than law school while providing more time to decide which path to take. For example, Political Science has one of the largest 4+1 programs on campus, and about 25% of its 4+1 students are considering going (or have already decided to go) to law school after receiving their M.A. degrees. Each college and department has different 4+1 policies, so you should ask faculty or staff in each department about their program when you are deciding what to major in (if you have not already decided on a major) or (if applicable) within the department of the major you have already committed to.
Other Ways to Get Prepared
Coursework is not the only way you should be preparing for a successful law career. It is also important to get as much experience as you can doing the work that lawyers do. If you are unsure whether you want to primarily do litigation or a transactional practice, then it is important to seek experiences doing both kinds of work. And you should seek experiences that allow you to practice conducting legal research for real (or at least realistic) cases and to develop your written and oral legal communication skills. Here are two great ways to go about gaining these kinds of valuable experiences:
- Join GSU’s Mock Trial Team.
- Get internships or jobs working in law offices or courts.
The second of these is easier said than done. It can be difficult to hear about good internship opportunities and, even when you do, there are often a lot of applicants for a single position. Some academic departments offer assistance in finding internships, so make sure to inquire about this when you are deciding upon (or declare) a major. And the University’s Co-Op program can be an excellent way to get paid for working in a law-related job during your senior year. Currently, the only major providing Co-Op credit for specifically law-related work is Political Science. Finally, one of the most beneficial things you can do for improving your chances of getting good internships is to get connected with the pre-law community on campus. The better connected you are, the more likely you are to hear about good opportunities and to be able to get good recommendations from faculty members. The best ways to get connected are to join the GSU Pre-Law Email List (using the widget on the top left column of the pages of this website), become active in one or more pre-law student group(s) on campus, get to know the professors who teach your pre-law courses, and get to know members of our pre-law advising network.
Last but not least, although it does not focus on legal reasoning strictly speaking, another opportunity provided on campus for developing your written and oral argumentation skills is to join a GSU team competing in the annual Southeast Regional Ethics Bowl. Each year, GSU forms a team among enrollees in Philosophy 4760 (“Ethics and Contemporary Public Policy”). For more information about this opportunity, contact the Ethics Bowl team coach (and member of GSU’s pre-law advising network), Professor Andrew I. Cohen.