Pre-law Preparation at Rhode Island College
Thomas Schmeling, Ph.D.
Department of Political Science
Choosing a major
Students considering law school should choose a major based on their interest in the subject and their ability to perform well in the major courses. No specific major is officially required or recommended as preparation for law school. Special “pre-law majors” are notrecommended by law schools, and students in such majors may actually be less likely to be admitted to law school than are others.
Pre-law students should focus on developing the skills that law students and lawyers need: logical and critical reasoning, written and oral communication, and the ability to read and understand complex documents. Quantitative reasoning skills are also important for some areas of law. Although any major is acceptable, liberal arts majors in particular are designed to develop these skills. Liberal arts students also tend to score high on the Law School Admissions Test.
Whatever major you choose, it is useful to take a selection of elective courses that sharpen your skills and deepen your understanding of people and society. Include some of the following in your studies: Political Science (particularly American Government and the legal system), Philosophy (Introduction to Logic is strongly advised), History (especially American History), Economics, English (especially courses that focus on writing), and other social sciences such as Psychology, Sociology, and Anthropology
Your grade point average will be an important factor in determining your admission to law school. Work hard and do as well as you can. Having a major you really enjoy will help here. Law schools do recognize that it’s harder to get high grades in some majors than in others.
Another important factor in law school admission is performance on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). All law schools require applicants to submit their LSAT scores. The LSAT is given four times a year at test sites in Rhode Island. Students who wish to enter law school in the fall should typically take the LSAT in October or December of the preceding year. More information on the LSAT can be found on the website of the Law School Admissions Council: http://www.lsac.org.
A final consideration in law school admissions will be your letters of recommendation. Visit your professors during office hours and let them get to know you. Letters from professors who know you well and with whom you have had several courses will help the most. Letters from employers who know you well are also useful.
The Pre-Law Advisor and Pre-Law Club
The College Pre-Law Advisor provides individual advising and organizes pre-law events on and off-campus. A student-run pre-law club has also been organized through Student Community Government. For contact information, see the top of this page.