So You Want to go to Law School?
Some facts from the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) about the law:
- 73 percent of American lawyers are in private practice
- 8 percent of American lawyers work for government agencies
- 10 percent work for private industries and associations
- 1 percent work for legal aid or as public defenders
- 1 percent work in legal education
What do you gain when you go to law school?
- You develop your analytical, creative and logical reasoning capabilities
- You strengthen your reading and debating skills
- You work to develop your analysis of legal issues in light of changing public policy and legal environment
- You develop a capability to articulate and advocate the views of individuals and diverse groups
- You synthesize material that relates to multifaceted issues
- You develop stronger written and oral skills to be able to persuade and negotiate effectively.
How do I prepare for law school?
As noted by the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC), law schools want students prepared to do a variety of things:
- Think critically and write well
- Have an understanding of the forces that shape the human experience
- Have challenging coursework that includes critical analysis, logical reasoning, and written and oral expression
- Have intensity and depth to your undergraduate program
- Perform well in your coursework
When it comes times for professors to evaluate you and write letters of recommendation, here are the specific criteria that law schools will be asking evaluators to rate you on (this comes directly from the Law School Admissions Council evaluator form):
- Is a critical thinker and problem solver
- Is an analytical thinker
- Can synthesize information
- Is intellectually curious
- Constructs logical, cogent arguments
- Communicates effectively in writing
- Writes persuasively
- Communicates well orally
- Is a thoughtful, attentive listener
- Asks appropriate questions for information gathering
- Is highly motivated
- Shows empathy/compassion
- Has surmounted difficulties and obstacles
- Possesses practical judgment
- Shows initiative
- Demonstrates professionalism
Integrity & Honesty:
- Behaves in accord with high ethical standards
- Is reliable
- Is trustworthy
- Is honest
- Prioritizes well
- Has realistic objectives
- Fulfills commitments
- Manages work & time efficiently
Working with others:
- Respects other points of view
- Works well with people from different backgrounds
- Motivates others toward a common goal
- Is able to lead groups of people from different backgrounds
- Organizes and manages others well
- Demonstrates good judgment in leadership decisions
Catawba's Pre-Law Program
In preparing for a career in the legal profession, Catawba College follows the recommendations of the American Bar Association (the ABA). In their recommendations, the ABA encourages students to pursue a challenging major that requires a core set of capabilities and skills: critical thinking and analytical/logical capabilities; communication skills (both written and verbal); critical reading skills; task organization and time management skills; research skills; and public service and promotion of justice ideals.
Beyond these capabilities and skills, the ABA recommends that students have core knowledge in several key areas, such as:
- A broad understanding of history, including the various factors (social, political, economic, and cultural) that have influenced the development of our society in the United States.
- A fundamental understanding of political thought and of the contemporary American political system.
- Some basic mathematical and financial skills, such as an understanding of basic pre-calculus mathematics and an ability to analyze financial data.
- A basic understanding of human behavior and social interaction.
- An understanding of diverse cultures within and beyond the United States, of international institutions and issues, of world events, and of the increasing interdependence of the nations and communities within our world.
While there is no one academic path to a successful admittance to law school, most students consider majoring in politics as a core foundation of gaining the requisite knowledge needed to success in law school. Catawba’s politics major offers students a comprehensive overview of the discipline of political science, with core classes in American politics, comparative politics, and social science research. Students can then elect to study:
- either state and local politics or international politics (or both);
- ancient or modern political theory (or both);
- political institutions (such as the Congress, the presidency, the courts, or the bureaucracy);
- political behavior (such as political parties and interest groups; U.S. campaigns and elections; or Southern politics); and,
- public policy (such as constitutional law, international law, or political economy, to name a few).
With the politics major, students interested in pursuing law school can select the pre-law concentration to add to their studies. The pre-law concentration provides the core knowledge that the ABA recommends above in 21 semester hours of coursework, which includes:
- Accounting 1901: Principles of Accounting I
- Economics 1902: Principles of Economics II
- English 3201: English Grammar
- History 1114: The Contemporary World
- History 1202: Survey of American History II
- Philosophy 1166: Critical Thinking or Philosophy 1155: Introduction to Logic
- Philosophy 2170: Ethics
- Sociology 1501: Social Problems
AREA LAW SCHOOLS OF INTEREST:
- Wake Forest University School of Law
- UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law
- Duke University School of Law
- Campbell University Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law
- North Carolina Central University School of Law
- Elon University School of Law
- Charlotte School of Law
For more information, contact Dr. Michael Bitzer, pre-law advisor for Catawba College, at firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by his office (Hedrick Administration Building, Room 334-C).