Pre-Law Might Not Be the Best Major for Your Future Career
In charting a course to climb a mountain, it sometimes helps to turn the map upside down.
In other words, start at the top and plan your way down. You may see things you might miss otherwise, like the challenge of a steep grade that would be hard to ascend but impossible to descend. There's nothing quite like getting stuck at the top of a sheer cliff.
When considering the pros and cons of a pre-law program, it may help to see things in retrospect. Ask yourself, what are you going to do after you finish law school?
You'll Need a Job
So what are you going to do for a job? If that sounds like your mother talking, just call me "mom" for now.
"Child, I just want you to be happy." Translation: choose a job you like and make good money.
If you have already decided you want to work in criminal law, then a criminal justice program is a perfect pre-law program. Even if you don't become a prosecutor or public defender, you can use your education to work in the system. Police chiefs, by the way, can make bank. Plus, they get a car and get to carry a gun.
You're more of a science guy or girl? Study your heart out because some specialty law firms only hire people with science or technical backgrounds. The same goes for medical-malpractice firms, health care and tech companies. (Oh, and they hire non-lawyers in those fields if you change your mind about law practice later.)
If there is one graduate program that does not require a specific undergraduate discipline, it's the law. The American Bar Association says "no single path will prepare you for a legal education."
So when preparing for law school, you should really be preparing for what comes after law school.
In the Meantime
Of course, there are critical skills that are necessary for successful law school and law practice experiences. Speaking, writing, researching and logical thinking skills should be cultivated early on.
English, journalism, philosophy and similar courses can help. According to the Law School Admission Council in 2012, philosophy, economics, and journalism students were admitted to law school at rates of 82, 79, and 76 percent, respectively -- compared to much lower numbers for pre-law (61 percent) and criminal justice (52 percent) majors.
Whatever your course of study, a good GPA is important for law school admissions so choose your undergraduate program wisely. But the most important course to take before applying to law school is an LSAT prep course. If there were such an undergraduate program to prepare for law school, that would be the one.
Take it from somebody who has climbed the mountain. Looking back, that's what I can tell you.
By the way, most climbing accidents happen on the way down.