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Pre-Law Advising

Contact: Diane Curtis, Director
Office: E-20 Machmer Hall
Phone: (413) 577-0396
Email: prelaw@acad.umass.edu
Website: www.umass.edu/prelaw

The Pre-Law Advising Office provides comprehensive advising services to students and graduates interested in pursuing legal careers. Its mission is to help graduates prepare to attend a law school of their choice, and make the informed decisions that lead to fulfilling, productive careers. To that end, the office provides a range of services to strengthen applications, from options counseling regarding whether and where to attend school through assistance with the application process, including Law School Admission Test (LSAT) preparation and drafting of personal statements. The office also sponsors a variety of law-related events to inform students about the practice of law and the law school admissions and financing process. Pre-Law Advising also maintains an ever-expanding resource library about law school and legal careers, including electronic materials, and has established an informational and mentoring network to connect alumni lawyers with current students.

Undergraduate Preparation for Law School
There is no “Pre-Law” major or prescribed course of undergraduate study for admission to law school. The best guide is to follow your own personal and academic interests so that you are motivated to excel. In selecting students, law school admissions committees look for individuals with well-rounded liberal arts educations. Many students pursue double majors to demonstrate their ability to perform well in more than one field. It is especially recommended that students whose primary major is in business or the sciences also major or minor in the humanities or social sciences.

According to the American Bar Association’s Section on Legal Education, good lawyering requires certain core skills including analytic and problem solving skills, critical reading abilities, writing skills, oral communication and listening abilities, general and computer-assisted research skills, task organization and management skills, and commitment to the values of serving others and promoting justice. In addition, lawyers need an increasingly broad range of knowledge including: a good understanding of history, particularly U.S. history; a basic understanding of political and legal institutions; familiarity with ethics and theories of justice; a grounding in economics; basic mathematical and financial skills; and an appreciation for diversity and cultural interdependence.

In law school, you will study the legal principles underlying specific areas of the law; in your undergraduate classes, you need to acquire the core knowledge and skills upon which your legal education will be built. Since law deals with a wide variety of human conflicts, the more you know about the diversity of human experience, the better prepared you will be to study law.

Application Process
Applications for law school should be submitted by early December of the year before you plan to begin school. The LSAT is a required part of the application package and should be taken in June or October of the year you are applying. It is not necessary to go to law school straight out of college. Taking time off will not disadvantage you in the application process, and, in fact, about two-thirds of applicants have already graduated from college.

Law school admissions are highly competitive. Your application will be evaluated based on your overall GPA, the rigor of your undergraduate coursework, your LSAT score, a personal statement, resume, and letters of recommendation. In addition to doing well in class, you will need to take the time to adequately prepare for the LSAT. It is also important that you take advantage of office hours to get to know your professors so that they are able to write persuasive letters on your behalf.

You should register with the Pre-Law Advising office as soon as you realize that you may be interested in attending law school so that you can be added to Pre-Law email list. You should also meet with the Pre-Law Adviser in the spring of your junior year if you are applying to attend law school right after college.

The Pre-Law website has more information on the advising services offered, as well as on every aspect of the law school application process.