Pre-Law Advising: Explore
Unlike medical schools, law schools do not require a set of “pre-law” prerequisites. If you are considering law school, we encourage you to take a variety of courses to sharpen your relevant skills:
- Critical thinking
- Reading and writing
- Oral communication and performance
- Analytic problem-solving
Extracurricular activities and internships can give you insight into the practice of law and an opportunity to develop your leadership skills.
Is Law School for You?
Before you decide to go to law school, it’s a good idea to get to know what law school entails to determine if it really appeals to you. Now is a good time to think seriously about whether you really want to practice law and if so, what you might do with your degree.
Some Things to Consider
What kind of law do you want to practice and do you have the kind of personality that does well in that field?
Are you ready for another three years in a demanding academic program?
Do you have a plan for covering the cost of law school?
Does your interest in law school come from a genuine interest, or are you doing it for your parents or friends?
Would you get more out of law school if you took a year or two to know yourself better?
Law Professions Options
Law schools do not expect you to know what type of law you want to practice before you matriculate but it is still a good idea to get to know the various types of law practice. These descriptions are based on information from the Law School Admission Council (LSAC).
Business (Corporate) LawCorporate law involves the formation, dissolution, and all other legal aspects of administering corporations. Typical duties of corporate lawyers include mergers, acquisitions, internal reorganization, or disputes between corporations and individuals concerning liability, patents, and compliance with state and federal law, as well as international accords. A legal professional whose sole client is a corporation is generally known as in-house counsel. Learn more: Georgetown Law
Civil Rights Law
Civil rights law aims to balance competing interests between institutions of government and individuals or groups of individuals. Civil rights lawyers may work on cases involving discrimination and unfair practices that infringe on rights and liberties such as expression, employment, housing, education, or other entitlements. Learn more: Legal Information Institute
Criminal law focuses on behaviors that are sanctioned under criminal code and defined as illegal. Prosecutors and district attorneys sanction illegal behavior, while criminal defense lawyers represent clients accused of criminal activity. Both prosecution and defense professionals deal with issues of individual liberty, basic rights, and responsibilities. In some common law countries other than the U.S. and in most civil law countries, the roles of a prosecutor (or procurator) and defense lawyer (or advocate) are separated more clearly into different professional specialties. Learn more: Legal Information Institute
An education law attorney may provide advice, counsel, and representation of a school district or other educational agency in matters pertinent to education law, such as student residency, governance issues, principal and teacher selection and retention, student discipline, special-education law, tuition fraud, and educational policies. Other education law attorneys may represent parents with special-education or student-expulsion matters against a school district. Learn more: Education Law Association
Environmental and Natural Resources Law
Environmental law was born out of widespread public and professional concern about the fate of our natural resources. Lawyers in this field may tackle legal and regulatory issues relating to air and water quality, hazardous waste practice, natural gas transportation, oil and gas exploration and development, electric power licensing, water rights, toxic torts, public land use, marine resources, and energy trade regulation. They may work directly for governmental agencies that address environmental problems or represent corporations, public interest groups, and entities concerned about protecting the environment. Learn more: Environmental Law Institute
Family law focuses on legal relations between individuals in the context of the family. Lawyers in this field typically work in smaller firms and specialize in a variety of areas ranging from child welfare, through adoption, to divorce. Child abuse, legitimacy, civil unions, domestic partnerships, and marriages are among the main aspects of family lawyers’ practice. Learn more: American Bar Association
Health law encompasses many different disciplines. Lawyers in this field can be in the private bar or at government agencies. Health lawyers may represent hospitals, physician groups, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), or individual doctors, among others. Government health lawyers can investigate fraud, deal with Medicare policy and compliance, or oversee public health policy. Many health lawyers are engaged in the business of health care. These lawyers spend significant time in mergers and acquisitions, tax law, employee benefits, and risk management issues. As technology has become pervasive in health care, health lawyers play an essential role in guiding their clients through intellectual property, biomedicine, and telemedicine issues. Other health lawyers specialize in bioethics and clinical ethics, representing universities and other research academic centers. Learn more: National Health Law Program, American Bar Association
US immigration law deals with legal issues and US policies relating to foreign nationals who come to the United States on a temporary or permanent basis. This area of law involves the associated legal rights, duties, and obligations of aliens in the United States; the application processes and procedures involved with naturalization of foreign nationals who wish to become US citizens; and the legal issues relating to people who are refugees, people who cross US borders by means of fraud or other illegal means, and those who traffic or otherwise illegally transport aliens into the United States. An immigration lawyer may assist clients with all aspects of immigration law, but many choose to specialize in subcategories of immigration law, due to the complexity of the law and the frequency of updates and changes. Specialization areas include asylum/refugee law, business immigration law, and criminal and deportation defense. An attorney practicing immigration law may work for the government, a law firm, a community-based organization, or in-house for a company employing foreign nationals. Learn more: Legal Information Institute
Intellectual Property Law
Intellectual property (IP) law has seen tremendous growth in the past decade. It is a general category of law that deals with the acquisition and enforcement of patents, trademarks and copyrights. IP law can traditionally be broken down into three subdivisions:
Patent law focuses on inventions and technology.
Trademark law is designed to defend an individual’s or a company’s investment in any distinguishing name, symbol or device.
Copyright law deals with the protection of literary, artistic and musical works.
Intellectual property encompasses the exclusive rights to a registered idea, product, or name, and includes anything from words and symbols to Internet domain names. IP law not only deals with unauthorized use of property and plagiarism, but also with the protection of image and personality through use of registered property. Learn more: American Bar Association
International law is practiced in private and public sectors. In the private sector, specialists in international law may work in finance and trade divisions of multinational corporations. Attorneys in this area are familiar with business essentials, as well as corporate law or intellectual property law. In the public international law, practitioners work on cases that involve dealings between sovereign nations. Attorneys in this field are familiar with comparative law or public international law. Both private and public international law are interdisciplinary in nature and involve an understanding of the differences between common law and civil law systems across borders. Learn more: International Law
Real Estate Law
Real estate law involves land or construction ownership, development, litigation, tenant rights, or landlord disputes. Attorneys in this field may work on residential or commercial transactions, review contracts, or work in planning and other government offices.
Sports law can often be viewed as the application of law to the world of both amateur and professional sports. Sports law often involves labor, antitrust, contract and tort law.
Entertainment or media law similarly involves a myriad of legal disciplines applied to the entertainment industry. Entertainment law frequently involves intellectual property law and defamation, first amendment and right of publicity issues. It can also involve labor and employment law, corporate finance, bankruptcy, insurance, and many other areas of law.
Law students are often able to gain exposure to this world by working for a sports team or for the in-house legal department of a media company. But following graduation, they often begin their careers developing expertise in one of the substantive areas of law mentioned above before becoming a “sports lawyer” or an “entertainment lawyer.” Learn more: American Bar Association.
Tax law is a dynamic field that deals with domestic and international transactions. Because of the frequent modifications to local, state, and federal codes and the complexity of fiscal policy that guide these changes, tax law requires continuing education at greater rates than many other fields of law. Apart from ensuring the legality of the levies on economic transactions, tax lawyers help clients reduce fiscal liabilities.
For more information, check out LSAC’s Fields of Law page.