What Can High School Students Do to Prepare for Law School?
5 things to keep in mind as you apply to college if you think you'll be a lawyer
If you’re sure you want to be a lawyer, but you’re still in high school, people might tell you it’s too early to think about law school applications. On the one hand, that’s probably true! (You’ve still got a lot of time to change your mind about what to do with your life.) But, that being said, it rarely hurts to plan ahead.
Here are 5 things to keep in mind as you apply to college if you think you eventually want to be a lawyer:
- Your major doesn’t matter. Students often wonder what “the best” major is for law school. The answer is simple — it doesn’t really matter. People apply to law school with all types of majors (and get accepted). Sure, certain majors are more common among law students, but that’s largely because of self-selection. If you want to study biology or computer science, go for it! Law is increasingly complicated and technical, and law schools are happy to accept applicants with less traditional academic backgrounds. A more challenging undergraduate major will better prepare you for the LSAT, but just be sure to keep your grades up! (See below.)
- Your undergraduate grades matter, a lot. When it’s time to apply to law school, two factors matter more than any others: undergraduate GPA and LSAT score. To maximize your chances of law school admission, focus on your undergraduate grades from day one. Sure, it’s not fun to worry about exams when you’d rather be partying with your new college friends, but it’s hard to come back from terrible early grades. As you’re settling into college, take classes you can probably do well in, and then take them seriously. You’ll thank me one day!
- Look for schools where you can build relationships with faculty members. As you’re considering which college to go to, look for opportunities to build relationships with faculty members. You’ll need strong recommendations for law school, which means you’ll need strong relationships with at least a few faculty members. Some schools are known for strong student-faculty interaction, but even schools not known for their friendliness often offer special honors programs and such, which you’ll want to look into. Who can participate in these programs? Will you qualify? Be sure to inquire about the details, so you don’t end up disappointed!
- Try to gain hands-on experience. Even as a high school student, you might be able to gain hands-on experience in the legal profession. Whether it’s a summer job or an internship for course credit (or even just an informational interview with a friend’s lawyer parent), learn all you can about what lawyers do and how the profession operates. This will place you way ahead of the typical law school applicant, who’s never seen a legal brief or visited a courtroom. And, of course, it will help you figure out if you should really go to law school.
- Explore other possible career paths. As a high school student, it’s easy to get sucked into one answer for the “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question. But try to keep your options open! Even if you’re currently an excellent debater and you love to write, you might find your true passion in anthropology or marketing. Who knows?!? The world is your oyster. While it’s good to have goals, be sure that you’re not so focused on the idea of becoming a lawyer that you forget to look around at all of the other options that are open to you, too. (And, of course, be sure law school is really your goal, not your parents’ dream. There’s no more sure-fire way to end up miserable than following someone else’s blueprint for your life!)
While it may seem like you have all the time in the world to prepare for law school, it’s best to start preparing as early as possible, even in high school. If you follow this advice, you should be adequately prepared to start your journey toward becoming a lawyer. Good luck!