Undergraduate students planning to attend law school may elect the "pre-law" designation. This indicates their intention of attending law school and will insure they are assigned to an academic advisor specializing in pre-law. Pre-law is not, however, a major or a curriculum. There is no particular major or degree that is preferred by law schools. Students should choose a major that will serve them well whether or not they eventually study law.
Law schools are interested in highly motivated students with an interest in understanding the law, regardless of the student's particular major. Academic accomplishment and demonstrated leadership are far more important than any particular major. Nevertheless, there are many classes that will help prepare students for success in law school. A pre-law advisor will guide students in choosing classes that will help prepare them for law school and the practice of law. To succeed in law one needs to develop strong reading, research, writing, speaking, problem-solving and analytical skills. Law school admission is competitive. The four major criteria are:
1. GPA and level of difficulty of coursework (the mean undergraduate GPA of those admitted to the UI College of law is regularly over 3.6).
2. LSAT score - the Law School Admission Test provides a standard measure of acquired reading and verbal reasoning skills., i.e., it is a test of skills, not specific knowlege.
3. A personal statement. This is an essay in which the applicant describes their experiences, accomplishments and goals.
4. References. Both academic references and ones from those who have supervised the applicant in a significant internship or law related positon are preferred.
Internet Sites for Prospective Law Students
This link is to the web site of the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC). This is the single most important web site for applicants to law school. The LSAC is the non-profit organization that administers the LSAT and runs the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS). In order to apply to any law school approved by the American Bar Association one must take the LSAT and register with the LSDAS. Do not register with the LSDAS until the academic year during which you are applying, e.g., in fall of '05 to begin law school in the fall of '06. At this site you can register for the LSAT, subscribe to LSDAS, and order a variety of LSAT preparation tools, legal education books and law school application software.
JURIST is the Internet's legal education portal, the university-based academic gateway to authoritative legal instruction, information and scholarship online. JURIST is edited by a team of Net-literate law professors from law schools across the United States and around the world. It's designed for people learning, teaching or researching law - legal scholars, law students, law librarians, lawyers and judges, journalists, and interested citizens.
Pre-law page of the Internet Legal Resource Guide
The Internet Legal Resource Guide (ILRG) is comprehensive resource of the information available on the Internet concerning law and the legal profession. The link above will take you its prelaw page, where you will find numerous links to information on law schools, LSAT preparation, application strategies, rankings, and pre-law guides from various colleges.
Pre-law page of Hieros Gamos
Hieros Gamos is an even more comprehensive legal research web site than the ILRG, with links to sites for law schools, law firms, bar associations, legal journals and much, much more. The link above will take you to their pre-law page, where you will find links similar to those on the Internet Legal Resource Guide.
Education resource page of the American Bar Association (ABA)
ABA approved law schools; frequently asked questions about law school accreditation; preparation for a legal education; admission to the bar; careers in the legal profession.
The Council on Legal Education Opportunity ("CLEO") was founded in 1968 as a non-profit project of the American Bar Association Fund for Justice and Education to expand opportunities for minorities and low-income students to attend law school and become members of the legal profession by providing pre-law recruitment, counseling, placement assistance and training.
NALP is a nonprofit educational association established in 1971 to meet the needs of the participants in the legal employment process — legal employers, law schools, and law students and graduates — for information, coordination, and standards. NALP's membership includes virtually every ABA-accredited law school and more than 800 of the nation's largest legal employers. NALP is committed to providing leadership in the areas of legal career planning, recruitment and hiring, and research related to the employment market for law graduates.
The "Pre-Law Handbook" is a non-profit, non-commercial web site recently created by a retired Professor of Mathematics who set out to create a website that, in one place, provided most of the readily available information a student considering becoming a lawyer would need.
Testing and Prep Services
There are a number of for-profit test preparation organizations. They offer a variety of services and courses, in person and on-line. Their products and services vary in cost, from less than a hundred to well over a thousand dollars. Students should carefully evaluate several options before committing to one. The Academic Advising Center has not evaluated and does not endorse any of these services. Many applicants have found test preparation services helpful, but a motivated student can prepare adequately without their assistance. Test preparation materials are available from the Law School Admission Council.
Student Pre-law Organization
Phi Alpha Delta International Law Fraternity
Phi Alpha Delta (PAD) is a national law fraternity. The link above is to the national web site, but there is a PAD undergraduate program at The University of Iowa that is organized and managed entirely by undergraduate prelaw students.
American Bar Association Paralegal Career Information and Directory of Approved Programs
Learn more about a paralegal career and search for paralegal educational programs approved by the ABA.
National Association of Legal Assistants
Contains career and certification information for legal assistants.