PRE-LAW ADVISING SERVICES

 

In partnership with the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) at the University of Houston, the University Studies Division offers advising services to students considering pre-law training. Students may access services either at USD or through the CLASS Department of Political Science, depending on where the student is in the process of pre-law preparation.

 

University Studies Division

The University Studies Division’s professional advising staff is available to meet with students who are considering pre-law as a focus of their undergraduate education. USD advisors can assist with such basic considerations as:

  1. choice of major
  2. planning extracurricular activities that will complement and develop skills necessary for successful law school applicants
  3. discussion of any academic concerns or weaknesses and referral to appropriate educational support services on campus
  4. review of course selection and recommended pre-law courses
  5. description of the overall process and stages in the process of applying to law school
  6.  recommendations for further reading and research to help determine if pre-law is the right choice for you.

 

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences/Department of Political Science

The faculty pre-law advisor is Dr. Robert A. Carp, Professor of Political Science.  Dr. Carp offers assistance to students who are at the stage of choosing specific law schools and completing the application process.  These students generally are juniors or seniors and have taken the LSAT test. Some of the topics Dr. Carp will discuss with students are:

 

  1. The LSDAS service
  2. Individual law schools – issues such as facilities, teaching methods, special programs, placement and bar passage rates, costs, class size, etc.
  3. Writing the personal statement and resume
  4. Letters of evaluation
  5. General information about legal careers

 

 

Basic Information for Students Considering Pre-Law

One of the best first sources of information for pre-law students is the American
Bar Association (ABA) “Statement on Prelegal Preparation.”  This essay presents an overview of the skills and training that are essential to successful law school preparation and ultimately to success as a lawyer. You can access this statement at: http://www.abanet.org/legaled/prep.html.

 

As an undergraduate student considering a career in law you must keep in mind that pre-law is not a “major.”  You will choose a major from any of the undergraduate degree options that are offered at the University of Houston.  There is no prescribed or preferred major for students who want to become lawyers.  Instead, there are certain skills and types of knowledge that will train you best for law school.  These include: analytical reasoning, critical thinking, close-reading, written and oral communication, understanding of the structures of society and government, research, organizational and management skills. The best undergraduate preparation for law school will involve choosing a major that relates best to your own interests and abilities and that helps develop the kinds of skills necessary for success in the law. Choose whatever major is right for you and in addition, include elective courses that will enhance specific skills and knowledge. It is also important to seek out challenging and rigorous courses and instructors; these are the classroom experiences that will benefit you most in the long run. USD advisors will be happy to discuss choice of major with you; they may also refer you to other campus resources available to help you make the right decision.

 

Your academic performance is a crucial element in the law school admission decision. The law schools will include every grade earned as part of your overall undergraduate grade point average. Take advantage of all the academic support services available at the University of Houston to enhance your academic performance.  Consult with academic advisors every semester as you plan your course selection; make careful, mature decisions about the number of hours you work and the number of credit hours you attempt each semester. Make every grade count toward your goal of entering law school and becoming a successful lawyer.

 

Another critical element in the admission decision will be your score on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT).  This exam consists of four 35-minute multiple-choice sections and one 30-minute writing sample. The sections cover reading comprehension, analytical and logical reasoning skills.  Plan carefully your LSAT preparation; never take the LSAT unprepared or “just to see what it’s like.”  Most law schools will average LSAT scores if you take it more than once. Many schools do not look favorably on multiple LSAT scores.  Ideally, you should plan to take the LSAT in June of your junior year so that you will receive your scores before sending off your law school applications. This will give you time to assess your scores and your overall readiness to apply.

 

Extracurricular activities are an important factor in your pre-law preparation. The law schools will look for evidence of community service, leadership experience, work experience, internships, study abroad, etc.  Seek out opportunities for growth in these areas; consult instructors, advisors and others who can help you identify such opportunities during your undergraduate career.

 

As an undergraduate student at the University of Houston you will have an opportunity to interact with outstanding faculty in many different disciplines. Make an effort to establish relationships with your professors that you can continue to build on from semester to semester. Let your professors know of your academic and career goals; they can be invaluable sources of information, internship opportunities, guidance and mentoring. You will also be asking for letters of evaluation when you begin the law school application process. The best, most persuasive letters of evaluation are written by people who know you well and have observed your growth and progress toward your goals.

 

Law school admissions is a complicated process that demands careful planning and organization. One of the first steps involves registering with the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS). All ABA-approved law schools require that applicants use the LSDAS as a centralized method of receiving applicants’ academic transcripts, LSAT scores and writing samples, and letters of evaluation. The LSDAS also calculates your overall grade point average; thus it is crucial that you have official transcripts from every school you have attended sent directly to them. You will monitor your LSDAS file carefully as you continue the application process.

 

You will apply directly to each law school you have selected. As part of this process you will submit a personal statement and a law school resume. You may also wish to submit additional information in the form of addenda to the application. These addenda would be used to address specific issues such as trends in your academic performance or prior minor legal problems. Remember that honesty, attention to detail,  and consistency are key elements in the application process.

 

The following links provide important information for students considering pre-law:

 

American Bar Association (ABA):            http://www.abanet.org/legaled/prep.html

Law School Admission Council (for LSDAS, LSACD, etc): http://www.lsac.org

National Association of Law Placement:  http://nalp.org

Boston College Range Finder:  http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/svp/carct/matrix.html

CLASS faculty pre-law advisor:  http://www.uh.edu/academics/catalog/las/las_degree_pols.html