Many undergraduates often find themselves a bit lost or sometimes constrained with the same old answer of “There’s nothing you can do to prepare for law school” or “All that matters is your GPA and your LSAT”. Well never fear! Here’s a few things you could do to prepare for law school at UCLA.
1. Useful undergraduate courses:
Certain courses and subjects can help you by giving an edge in law school. While it does not completely prepare a student for the rigors and intensity of law school, it does bring an idea of what it is going to be like and sheds a bit of light of how certain classes may function. Below are some class subjects that can give you that preparation.
– Ethics – It shows a student how to deal with dilemmas. Law school uses a method called the Socratic Method meaning professors will call a random student out and pretty much question his/her assumption or conclusion. This kind of practice pushes a student to think on his/her feet and how to analyze information that is given to him/her in a fast passed environment. Ethics can show a student how the world is more than just a yes or no type of situation and how to navigate or understand the grey areas.
– Logic – Introductory or upper-division; this course will prepare a student on how to create arguments with strong evidence. As a future lawyer, evidence is crucial to a case/trial and even the smallest detail can make or break it. Logic teaches a student how to be persuasive with the evidence and also how to spot out fallacies. This is a great class for future trial lawyers!
– Writing – It is one of the fundamental skills a lawyer needs to have, so be prepared to write 15-20 page research papers all the time. Any writing class can prepare a student on how to not only research a topic, but how to write as well. There are MANY different styles of writing and in law school; the professors will reteach students how to write accordingly to the legal system. Having the skill to write lengthy research papers with evidence from the text is highly recommended. Undergraduate training of writing can prepare for the rigors of writing legal paper.
2. Summer Undergraduate Law/PLUS Programs:
Many law schools, such as Florida State and Chapman University for example, offer summer law programs for undergraduates to prepare them for law school such as offering mock trials, LSAT prep courses, or even actual law classes. Some of these programs are free, some are not, but there is an application requirement for all of them because these programs are VERY selective. Be sure to check it out because many of them are very different in what it offers to students. Because these programs are in the summer, it requires a full-time commitment, so be sure to have space for it! Generally, these programs run to three to five weeks long and are five days a week.
3. Working in a law firm:
Getting experience in a law firm shows a day to day and certain things that law school cannot teach a law student such as billing systems and organizational skills. Every law firm is different with the way it operates the office and work, but there is a general idea of how law firms usually work. Working as a legal assistant/intern is a good starting point of seeing what kind of work an attorney does on a day-to-day basis. It’s an opportunity to figure out whether or not being a lawyer is the right fit because not everyone can work in an office or handle the high-pressured environment. Every law is practiced differently, so they could help a student determine what kind of law he/she would like to practice after law school. Another plus is building a network with the firm because the lawyers and even paralegals can help out in the future with a job, letter of recommendation, or advice about the legal field.
There is not a whole lot during the years of undergrad to prepare a student for the type of commitment and rigor of law school. Admissions care about the two things; the LSAT score and GPA of a student. Once a student gets it, almost everything from the undergraduate program is not particularly useful to the law school education. The learning curve and education is set a lot higher and differently as well. These three points above can help a student kind of peak into what the realm of law school and the career itself is really like. May the slight edge help prepare you all!