If you are currently an undergraduate interested in a future legal career, your college curriculum is probably one of your biggest concerns. The all important queries of "What should I take?", "May I use the P/F option?", "What kind of grades do I need?" are addressed in this section.
To begin with, law schools neither require nor suggest any specific undergraduate concentration. The notion that all pre-law students may be political science, history, or economics majors is an ill-founded myth. Pre-law students may study anything from biomedical engineering to statistics to art history. What you concentrate in as an undergraduate will have little, if any, effect upon your admission to law school. What your undergraduate education may have an effect upon is your legal career; that is, what you concentrate in now may very well determine the direction of your interest once you begin to practice law.
Since your formal legal education—that which you acquire in law school—is very general (see the section on "What Happens in Law School") the only real opportunity to study specific areas may come during your undergraduate years. For instance, your college years are a fine time to study psychology to prepare yourself for the time when you may choose to study the rights of the mentally disabled or when you may choose to learn about group dynamics or the limits of perceptual accuracy. The study of sociology represents a fine preparation for a variety of legal careers ranging from poverty law to the protection of equal rights. A concentration in mathematics or statistics will serve you in good stead should you enter a field which requires quantitative data-based inference. A major in philosophy offers good training in the analysis of arguments and can heighten your awareness of moral issues underlying the law. A concentration in engineering or the natural sciences is fine for the career field of patent law where it is necessary to understand your client's invention in order to protect it. Of course, much of this is picked up through practical experience once you begin in a certain type of practice. What your undergraduate education may do is indicate to you where your interests lie so that you will have more of an idea of which area of law you would like.
Taking a "double major" will not appreciably help your chances of law school admissions. Taking a B.A.L.S. degree probably will not affect your chances of admission either. There is even a slim possibility that it will hurt your chances if you happen to encounter a particularly conservative admission committee. However, it is also possible that outstanding achievement within a carefully planned B.A.L.S. program would strengthen your application credentials. Being a "Dean's Scholar" may help your admission chances, but there is no guarantee that it will. Whatever your course of study, it should include challenging courses that require and enhance skills in writing, reading and comprehension, and analytical thinking.
To repeat, law schools DO NOT CARE WHAT MAJOR YOU CHOOSE. Indeed, a lawyer's responsibility to his client usually requires knowledge of many disciplines. Thus, it may be to your advantage to sample widely from many units of the university. Although no single course is a required part of a pre-law curriculum, certain suggestions may be helpful. Courses that improve your reading and writing skills, that develop analytic skills, and that promote a critical understanding of the human institutions and values with which the law deals should all be useful. A course in introductory accounting is said to be very helpful for a number of required law school courses (e.g. Corporate Law, Tax Law, etc.). For those of you who are curious about what law school will be like, courses that offer exposure to actual legal case material (e.g. Constitutional Law and Civil Liberties in the Political Science Department and Business Law in the College of Business & Economics) may provide a useful preview (but they are NOT in any sense law school "prep" courses). The best general advice is to take a rigorous and well balanced program which will challenge you and which will expand your intellectual horizons.
What is extremely important to remember is that your undergraduate years are a time for true intellectual exploration. Take what you never had the opportunity to take in high school. Sample the different disciplines available to you at the University of Delaware; try to become a liberally educated person—one who knows something about just about everything. You never know what information will come in handy once you begin to practice. Don't be afraid to concentrate in something you consider a little out of the ordinary, as this may make you a more interesting candidate to the law schools. On the other hand, if your real interests lie in the areas of political science, history, and/or economics, don't be afraid that they are too run-of-the-mill for law school admission. The myth that these three subjects are the only preparation for law school initially arose because they offer excellent, broad based preparations for legal study; the point here is that many other concentrations offer excellent preparations as well. Moreover, your life will entail more than being a lawyer. To the extent that your undergraduate education enhances your appreciation of literature, art, music, politics, ethics, etc., your life will be richer.
Law schools want to admit good students, so they want to take students with HIGH GRADE AVERAGES. The P/F option that the University of Delaware offers to students for their elective course work should not pose a significant problem for law school admission, so long as it is used only sparingly. An occasional "P" will not hurt but a great many of them will cause your GPA to look "padded." Check with Career Services or your academic department for more information on internship options in various law jobs. It is possible to receive academic credit for these and they can help you make up your mind whether law is the right career for you.
Choice of extra-curricular involvement should be based on sincere interest. It will be of little benefit to simply associate your name with various activities. Rather, it is important to show active participation that demonstrates maturity, motivation and ability to work with others as evidenced by a leadership role. You may want your letters of recommendation to reflect your abilities as developed through extra-curricular activities, as well as those enhanced through formal education.
Meaningful involvement in groups such as Phi Alpha Delta Prelaw Honors Fraternity or law-related internships may be beneficial in a couple of ways. One, it could indicate to law schools your desire to pursue the study of law and, two, it could provide you with concrete experience instrumental in clarifying the degree of interest you hold for various aspects of law.
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