Treading the Pre-Law Path

  • There is no Pre-Law major
  • Advice on studies for becoming a lawyer
  • Researching various law school programs

Just as there is no official ‘pre-med’ major, there is no ‘pre-law’ major. Some schools, such as Northwestern University (NU), however, have Legal Studies as an ‘adjunct major’. Yet, this means it cannot be a sole major; it must be taken in conjunction with another departmental major, which can be anything from history of art to physics.

As the Northwestern website notes, “What you must do to prepare for law school…is to train your brain…you must develop the ability to write cogently…, to analyze carefully…, to reason logically, and to speak…articulately. These are the skills which will take you farthest in law school and in the practice of law…It doesn't matter so much whether you develop these skills in analyzing political institutions (as a political science major), metaphysical arguments (as a philosophy major)… or molecular structures (as a chemistry major); what matters is that you learn to use your mind effectively in a range of intellectual domains. Look for a major that demands a considerable amount of challenging reading and writing and that gives you some opportunities for small classes and seminars in which you can develop your speaking ability and in which faculty may get to know you better than they can in large lecture classes.” (http://www.weinberg.northwestern.edu/advising/preprof/law/info.html, 12 January 2011)

While you ‘train your brain,’ you will also need to perfect your test-taking skills. To get into a good law school (and you probably want to go to the best law school you can) you’ll need, in addition to top grades, very solid LSAT scores. LSAT scores are curved on a scale of 120-180, with a 170 considered fairly exceptional. Additionally, once in law school, each semester you’ll be taking a full set of finals. Then, of course, you’ll need to pass the Bar, which is no small feat in itself.

One other component that you’ll need is to gain the internship experience so that you have a solid sense of what a lawyer does. Northwestern is one university that is a steadfast believer in encouraging, to the point of insisting, that its students in virtually all disciplines (pre-med, and journalism included) gain experience to mix with classroom theory. For aspiring lawyers, Northwestern has the NEXT (Northwestern Extern) program that connects you with NU alumni lawyers who are willing to let you job shadow. It’s also important to do summer internships to gain a true sense of legal practice. In addition, joining the Mock Trial Association, on whichever campus you plan to attend is yet another way to prepare yourself for the rigors of law.

Next, you might want to do some research to determine which law schools might be good matches. There are several places where you can conduct your due diligence. The first is at the US News and World Report listing of the top law schools: http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/rankings. Not only is US News ranking law schools, it’s also ranking law firms (something new this year). It also divvies up schools by legal specialties such as international, intellectual property and healthcare. Then, if you wish to take your research just one more step farther along, you might research an individual law school to gain a sense of admissions rates, GPA requirements, LSAT score averages etc. at The ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools., It has a free on-line component: http://officialguide.lsac.org/release/OfficialGuide_Default.aspx  which gives you the admission and curriculum details of  most of the top law schools.  

After reviewing all this, ask yourself honestly if you’re ready to commit to a legal career. It is a huge commitment of money (costs vary depending upon whether you enter a public or private law school), and three years of stress and often brutal competition. To gain a sense of just how competitive, dip into Scott Turow’s  One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School. After your research is complete and your commitment confirmed, I’ll rest my case.

 

법과 대학원으로 가는 Pre-Law

  • Pre-Law라는 전공은?
  • 미래 법률가에게 하는
  • 법과 대학 프로그램 알아보

 Pre-med 라는 전공이 없듯이 Pre-Law라는 전공도 없다.  그러나, Northwestern University(NU)에는 부전공으로 ‘Legal Studies’가 있다.  이 전공 학생은 다른 주 전공, 즉 역사나 물리학 등 다른 분야의 전공이 따로 있다.

Northwestern 대학의 웹싸이트(http://www.weinberg.northwestern.edu/advising/preprof/law/info.html, 12 January 2011)를 살펴 보면, “법과 대학원으로 가려면, 두뇌를 훈련해야 한다….논리적으로 사고하고, 명확하게 말할 수 있도록.  이 기술이야 말로 법을 공부하면서, 현장에 나와서도 꼭 필요하다.  이 기술을 정치학 전공으로 정치에서 쌓든지, 철학전공으로 형이상학 논쟁을 하든지….화학전공으로 분자구조를 분석하든, 상관이 없다; 중요한 점은 지적분야에서 효과적으로 쌓는 것이다.  그러므로 많은 독서와 글쓰기가 필요하고, 소규모 수업과 세미나에 참여하는 기회가 많고 교수와 잘 사귈 수 있는 전공을 찾아라”라고 추천하고 있다.

한편, 시험기술도 길러야 한다.  명문 법과대학에 입학하려면, 좋은 성적과 LSAT 성적이 중요하다.  LAST는 120-180등급으로 나뉘는데, 170은 아주 우수하다.  또한 매 학기 종합적인 기말고사를 치러야 한다.  그 다음, 변호사 시험(the Bar)에 합격해야 한다. 

또한, 인턴쉽에서 법조계에 대한 경험을 하는 것이 중요하다.  Northwestern 대학은 현장실습(pre-med, 언론학 등도 포함)을 교실 이론과 더불어 매우 중요하게 강조한다.  그래서, 이 대학에서는 NEXT (Northwestern Extern)프로그램으로 학생들을 NU 졸업생 법률가들에게 연결하여 직업경험 (job shadow)을 하게 한다.  물론 summer intership도 실제적인 연습을 위해 중요하다.  추가로, Mock Trial Association(모의 재판 연구회)에 가입하여 법에 대한 열정을 키우는 것도 좋다.

이제 어떤 법과대학이 여러분이 잘 맞는지를 알아보자.  여러 곳을 통하여 가능하다.  먼저, US News and World Report에서는 명문대 리스트를 제공한다

(http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/rankings).  법과 대학 뿐만 아니라, 법률회사(law firms)에 대한 랭킹도 알 수 있다 (올해 새로운 정보이다).  또한 전문분야(international, intellectual property, healthcare…)별로 나누고 있다.  더 나아가 각 대학에 대하여, 입학률, GPA 요구조건, LSAT 평균성적 등을 알려면, The ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools (http://officialguide.lsac.org/release/OfficialGuide_Default.aspx)에 가면 무료제공이다. 

위의 여러 가지를 고려한 후, 솔직하게 자신에게 물어야 한다: 법률가로 헌신할 준비가 되었는가?  물론 공부하는 비용(공립과 사립의 차이가 나지만)도 만만치 않고, 3년간의 스트레스와 치명적인 경쟁을 치러야 한다.  경쟁을 알려면, Scott Turow의 One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School을 권한다.  여러분의 리서치가 끝나고 헌신이 준비된다면, 나도 case를 맡기겠다.