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Preparing for Pre-Law? Here Is All You Need to Know

Preparing for Pre-Law? Here Is All You Need to Know
Susan Guillory
Susan GuilloryUpdated September 30, 2022
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
If you’re thinking about becoming an attorney and are at the start of your research, you might be trying to find out what you need to get into law school.Is there a pre-law degree you can get? What should you study to be appealing to law schools down the road? How can you pay for all this education?We’ll look at what’s called pre-law as well as how you can prep for your future as a lawyer. We’ll also explore financing options that can help you pay for both undergrad and law school, including federal vs. private student loans and other financing options.

What Is Pre-Law? 

When we refer to pre-law, we’re not talking about a specific degree program but rather the path you choose to build a well-rounded education that will prepare you for law school.These days, law schools aren’t looking for a specific set of requirements in terms of what you studied for your undergraduate degree. Instead, they look for you to be well-rounded in your studies.That means you can study whatever you’re interested in, though you may want to explore options that will teach you to write and edit, solve problems, conduct research, speak publicly, and listen openly. These are skills that the American Bar Association says will create a strong foundation for a legal education.

Choosing a Major to Prepare for Law School 

So, given that the sky’s the limit when it comes to what you can study prior to law school, what will you choose? It’s an important decision, and one you shouldn’t take lightly.

Find a Major You Are Interested In 

The best pre-law majors are the ones you have a genuine interest in! If you’re interested in political science, you’ll get great knowledge that might steer you toward corporate law. Or if you love reading and writing, a degree in English can give you the strong communication skills you’ll need as an attorney.Maybe math is your strong suit. Majoring in accounting could pave the way for a career as a corporate attorney.Whatever you choose to study, consider what you might do for a career if it turns out law isn’t a good fit. What else will this major prepare you to do?

Consider Courses That Will Challenge You 

Certainly, there’s a balance between taking courses you will struggle to pass and ones you could ace in your sleep. You already know that becoming an attorney will require a lot of hard work, not only in law school and passing the bar but also once you are out in the field working.Choosing challenging courses for your undergraduate studies will train you to take on things that may push you out of your comfort zone. And also, you’ll be sharpening your brain in preparation for law school!

Choose a Course of Study That You Can Perform Well In 

That being said, you also want to choose a major that you have an affinity for. If you’ve always struggled with science classes, there’s no reason to make yourself miserable by choosing chemistry as a major.If you’re outgoing and theatrical, you might study communications or theater, and that can help you later when you’re providing arguments in front of a judge. If you’re a deep thinker, a major in philosophy might be a good fit. Leverage both your strengths and interests when choosing a major.

Which Course Can You Take for Pre-Law? 

While there are no pre-law requirements you have to take, there are some courses that may better prepare you for law school. Speak with your pre-law advisor to see how many credit hours they recommend of a given subject like these:
  • English
  • Sociology
  • Political science
  • Economics
  • Public speaking
Again, these aren’t required courses for law school, but they may provide you with those skills you’ll need, like writing, public speaking, and discourse.

What to Consider While Selecting a Law School 

Once you’ve nearly completed your undergraduate degree in your chosen field, it’s time to look at law schools. This, too, is an important decision. Here are a few things to consider when looking at schools.

ABA-Approved Law Schools 

The American Bar Association has reviewed law schools across the country and provided accreditation for 199 of them.According to its Statement on Law School Rankings, “Fully approved schools have demonstrated that they are operating in compliance with each of the ABA Standards for Approval of Law Schools. Their compliance is regularly monitored and comprehensive reviews are conducted every tenth year.”Start your search with this list, since you know that these schools meet rigorous requirements.

Enrollment Information

You’ll be spending the next few years at this law school, so you might be curious about who the average law student is. Is there a diverse population of different races, cultures, and sexual orientation? If this is important to you, explore a law school’s website to see the demographics of its students.Recommended: College Graduation Rates: Here's Why They're Important to Examine

Bar Passage Statistics

Given that passing the bar is one of the most important aspects of your law school experience, it’s smart to find out what percentage of law students pass the bar at a school. What kind of preparation and support does the school offer to assist students?

Employment Statistics 

Another thing to look at is employment statistics. What jobs do students get upon graduating? Are they at large firms? Corporations? What salary range are students able to command? This is important, since you’ll want to quickly dive in and make enough to pay back that student loan!


Speaking of student loans, how much does law school cost? While you shouldn’t base your decision solely on the price tag, it may influence your decision since you don't want to end up with too much student loan debt. What sort of financing does the school offer? That might include needs-based financial aidWhat’s the process for getting a scholarship for law school, and what portion of your total costs will scholarships cover? You might also look at work-study as an option because you can have a job on campus that can help cover your tuition costs.Recommended: Great Job Ideas for College Students

The Takeaway

Because you’re not cornered into taking specific classes or majoring in a certain area for pre-law, you can spend your undergraduate years exploring a field you’re excited about and that will prepare you for your future in law.

3 Student Loan Tips

1. Once the pandemic-related pause on federal student loan payments ends, going back to making payments may be hard on budgets. One solution is to refinance to a lower interest rate, longer loan term, or both, depending on your situation. (The tradeoff is that you’ll be forfeiting federal benefits such as repayment programs.)  Find and compare your student loan refinance options.2. Paying extra each month on your student loan can reduce the interest you pay and so lower your total loan cost over time. (The law prohibits prepayment penalties on federal or private student loans.)3. Depending on their income, qualified borrowers can deduct the interest they pay for student loans, both federal or private, up to $2,500 per year. The deduction phases out for modified adjusted gross incomes of $70,000 to $85,000 for single individuals and $145,000 to $175,000 for people married and filing jointly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Pre-Law majors?
How many years is pre-law?
How do you prepare for law school in the U.S.?
Can you refinance federal student loans for pre-law?
Photo credit: iStock/Weekend Images Inc.

About the Author

Susan Guillory

Susan Guillory

Su Guillory is a freelance business writer and expat coach. She’s written several business books and has been published on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, and SoFi. She writes about business and personal credit, financial strategies, loans, and credit cards.
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