I decided to write this post for the many of you that are “pre-law” and not really sure what that means or what you want to do with it. You might have also just found out that “pre-law” isn’t a real major. You know you want to go to law school, but what do you do to fill four years of undergrad? I genuinely can’t imagine doing anything besides being an attorney, so it made choosing an undergraduate degree extremely hard.
The most popular choices seem to be political science, criminal justice, legal studies, sociology, or history. Philosophy majors are pretty popular as well. I really liked a lot of these choices, but I felt that there was little practical application and not a lot of jobs for these majors if I didn’t go to law school. My main problem was picking something I could do if I didn’t get into law school that wasn’t business or STEM related or required more than a bachelors.
I wanted a degree that would prepare me well for law school and truthfully there isn’t one. But i wanted something that would teach me to write concisely, speak well in front of others, and be able to communicate with many different types of people. I also wanted to be good at crafting arguments and appeals and knowing how people think. I needed to be good at persuasion and framing. Public Relations was the only major that gave me all of this.
I know a lot of people give me crap because communications majors typically aren’t seen as “rigorous”. I will admit that it is definitely easier than engineering or business or anything science based and I am very bad at anything math based. However, it did require extensive work. Obviously, learning Adobe and creating all the elements involved in a project is extremely time consuming. I always had to think outside the box and create a message that was new and persuasive. Also, everything I did required research to back up the message. How do you know that your target audience will prefer an emotional message over a fact based message and why? How do you frame an issue to be appealing without lying or covering anything up, but still makes your CEO look like a great guy? How do you persuade people that terrible corporations actually do love the environment? We researched all of this for every single project we did and ALWAYS worked in teams. If anything, PR taught me how to think, which I think will translate well to law school.
Being a PR major also hasn’t hurt me in applications. You have to stand out in applications and there aren’t a lot of communications majors floating around. Nobody has commented on the “lack of rigor” in my degree or questioned that choice. And so far I’ve gotten into a couple great top 50 schools: ASU, GWU, Colorado, Irvine, SMU, and a couple others (still waiting on Georgetown and Vanderbilt).
My advice to pre-law majors is this:
- Stop telling people you’re pre-law unless that is a real major at your school (hint: it probably isn’t)
- Go for practical or passion (both is ideal but I’m being realistic). I think passion carries better on applications, but we have to make a living here and nobody will judge you for being a business student.
- You only have four years so have a blast in undergrad, make good grades, and don’t stress too hard until you get to law school.