Pre-Law at UC San Diego
Students interested in the legal profession have a number of resources on campus to learn and explore about the legal field, law school preparation, and mentorship opportunities. The primary office for pre-law advising and resources is the Career Services Center. In addition, students can also obtain pre-law advising and mentorship through Student Legal Services and the Political Science Department Board of Pre-Law Advisors.
Pre-Law Mailing List: This mailing list is for students interested in staying updated on pre-law related events, news, and resources.
The Career Education and Advising team at Career Services Center empowers students to develop and utilize their self-awareness, professional development skills, and resources to identify and pursue career objectives. Students interested in the legal profession can meet with Emily Le, the pre-law advisor, utilize pre-law resources, attend the annual law school fair, and attend career exploration panels and law school workshops. Other services include resume and application essay critique, interview preparation, job and internship listings, alumni advisor network, industry networking events and workshops, and job fairs. Students can make advising appointments through Port Triton.
Student Legal Services provides legal services for registered UCSD students and student clubs and organizations. Services include free, confidential counseling on legal topics for individuals and groups, education programs designed to equip students with legal life skills and empower them to make informed legal decisions, and referrals to a private attorney. Students interested in legal careers can pursue service-learning and internship opportunities and meet with staff attorneys for advice and mentoring.
Political Science Department Board of Pre-Law Advisors are attorneys currently enrolled in the doctoral program in Political Science. They are available for individual appointments to discuss careers in law, selection of appropriate law schools, the application and admissions processes, and other concerns regarding a career in law.
Meet some of our alumni in the legal field!
As a young girl growing up in Kearny Mesa, Adriana Cara assumed she’d one day become a college professor. She loved reading and writing and considered herself to be an introvert.
But instead, Cara, 46, surprised herself by founding a law practice, Cara & Garland, APLC. The firm, which opened just over six months ago, is one of the few female- and minority-owned practices in the county.
Cara specializes in labor and employment and conducts a large part of her work in Spanish. She still uses her reading and writing skills, but has also enhanced her ability to argue.
(From a profile in the San Diego Union Tribune, June 5, 2015; read the whole article.)
Connect with more alumni through the Alumni Advisor Network.
Christian Waage '89, Managing Director at Receptos, Inc.
There are some student groups that provide opportunities in getting exposure to the legal field and community. Students are encouraged to explore any student group of interest and not necessarily limited to law-related groups. A comprehensive list of all student groups and opportunities can be found at the Center for Student Involvement. Law-related student groups include the following:
The Community Law Project is a non-profit, student-led organization that will work with undergraduate students to become more involved in law-related, community service in historically marginalized communities while preparing themselves for law school and beyond.
Mock Trial @ UCSD aims to encourage interest in law advocacy to prepare for Mock Trial competitions.
Phi Alpha Delta is a pre-law fraternity whose purpose is to form a strong bond uniting students and teachers of the law with members of the Bench and Bar in a fraternal fellowship designed to advance the ideals of liberty and equal justice under the law.
Pre-Law Society is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to give its members a wide variety of information as well as offer resources for students interested in attending law school.
- problem solving
- critical reading
- writing and editing
- oral communication and listening
- organization and management
- public service and promotion of justice
- relationship-building and collaboration
- background knowledge
- exposure to law
While there are no preferred majors, you can take classes in a number of departments including but not limited to History, Political Science, Sociology, Law & Society, or Public Service to learn more about current legal issues in the U.S. and internationally. Examples of elective topics include ethics, policy, societal and legal issues such as human rights, race and gender equality, etc. if it is not already covered in your major/minor/General Education requirements. You can also consider taking introduction to logics and decision making courses and writing courses if you need to improve upon your writing, reasoning, and analytical skills.
- Explore the "Being a Lawyer" section of the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) website
- Investigate various Legal Fields and Specialties
- Learn about Admissions to the Bar and Bar Associations
- Stay current on issues in law through the American Bar Association (ABA) website
- Discover the Law and how legal issues affect your daily life through UCSD’s Student Legal Services (SLS)
- Read Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers--Law Jobs
- Get advice from UCSD alumni who are in the legal field
- Talk to, shadow or volunteer with a lawyer. Find lawyers through your network of family and friends and Professional Association
- Think about activities and classes you can take
- Obtain a paid internship or part-time legal assistant position
- Get legal experience and exposure through UCSD’s Community Law Project
- Participate in UCDC, UC Center Sacramento or other Academic Internship Program opportunities to gain transferrable skills
- Join a pre-law Student Organization
- Develop communication and leadership skills through the Center for Student Involvement
- Gain leadership experience through Student Government or your College
- Learn how to Maximize Your Experience
- Get involved in JusticeCorps
- Consider participating in a CLEO Scholars program or other summer pre-law programs (see additional resources)
You typically apply to law school about one year before you want to start the program. You will need to identify programs that match your interests and complete an application. Some steps take time so plan ahead! Read our Law guide to learn how to prepare and apply.
- Schools & Programs
- Find Law Schools – consider competitiveness, curriculum, cost and other Selection Factors
- Compare your stats to average GPA and LSAT scores for UCSD Law School Admits
- Gauge your likelihood of admission with the ABA Official Guide or Law School Locator
- See the list of CA law schools that are ABA or CBE approved or unaccredited
- Attend the UCSD Law School Fair and LSAC Forums to talk to school representatives
- Check the NAPLA/SAPLA Book of Law School Lists for areas of emphasis, clinical programs, student publications and organizations, scholarships, dual degrees, study abroad, admissions data, employment and bar passage rates, and other options
- Explore Public Interest programs
- Check our Rankings page for law school program rankings
- LSAT – Prepare, Practice, and take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT)
- Find out whether you are eligible for LSAT and CAS fee waivers
- Applications - Carefully prepare and submit
- LSAC's Credential Assembly Service (CAS) that compiles your transcripts, letters, and LSAT scores
- School-specific applications through LSAC (includes essays, resume, etc.)
- Letters/Evaluations – Get to Know Writers and Collect Letters for LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service
- Application Essay – Write your Personal Statement and get a Critique
- Resume & Addenda – Prepare these Law School Supplements
- Disciplinary and criminal records disclosure
- See additional resources for information about fee waivers and other application considerations.
The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is required as part of the admission process into law school. The test is only offered four times a year so you should plan ahead to prepare for the test.
March: Begin preparing for the LSAT
June: Take the LSAT
June-July: Begin preliminary research on law schools
July: Receive LSAT scores
July-Oct: Narrow down list of schools and take the September LSAT if necessary.
Oct-Jan: Submit applications
Some students may choose to study on their own using study guides by published by LSAC or one of the test prep companies. If you choose to sign up for a test prep course, there are many options ranging from in-person and online instruction, self directed online, and private tutoring. Prior to signing up for a course, take a free sample LSAT to get an idea of the type of questions and what areas you would like to improve on. LSAC and many of the commercial test prep companies offer free mock LSAT sessions. Some of these companies may also provide discounts to students so do your research prior to signing up. Based on your learning style, academic foundation, and finances, determine the method of preparation that best fits your needs.
Test prep resources
- Preparing for the Law School Admission Test (published by Michigan State University College of Law)
- Free test prep apps for GRE, LSAT, and GMAT
- LSAT test prep resources
- GoGrad LSAT guidebook
- UCSD Extension test prep courses for GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT
- Student Grant Program offers $500 voucher for current students
- San Diego State University test prep courses
- University of San Diego test prep courses
- Test prep companies
- Private tutoring
Tools to evaluate the cost of law school and how you can pay for a legal education.
- LSAC Financial Aid Overview
- Access Group Loan Calculator
- Financing your legal education
- U of Michigan Debt Wizard
- Law School Transparency- Financial Planning Worksheets
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
- Equal Justice Works- Law School loan repayment programs
UC San Diego Law School Admissions History
This chart compares national and UC San Diego applicants admitted to US American Bar Association accredited law schools. Data provided by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), an organization of the US ABA law schools.
UC San Diego Graduates Admitted to Law School
The UC San Diego Students Admitted to Law School chart provides data from LSAC on last year’s successful UCSD law school applicants. This chart includes: the US law schools (accredited by the American Bar Association) to which UC San Diego graduates applied, were admitted, and enrolled; the mean Law School Admission Test (LSAT) score; and mean cumulative college grade point average (GPA) of those admitted. LSAT and GPA data from law schools with less than five admits from UC San Diego are not shown on this list. This list is offered as a guide and should not be used as a final determination of where to apply to law school.
Find information about legal job market and salary through:
- National Association for Law Placement (NALP)
- ABA Employment Summary Report
- Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers- Law Jobs: By the Numbers
Other ways to apply your law degree
Careers in the legal field without becoming a lawyer
- Above the Law
- Law School Transparency
- LST Radio: I am the Law
- Exploring and Planning for Law School webinar
- Establishing Residency
I am a non-resident. May I establish residency in your state while/by attending your state law school?
- Application Fee Waivers
Which law schools offer application fee waivers?
- Deadlines & Dean's Letter Requirements
When is my application due? Does this school require a dean's letter from my undergraduate institution?
- Decisions, Decisions
When and how will I learn if I have been admitted to law school?
- Summer Pre-Law Programs
I am undergraduate student who is interested in exploring a career in law. What summer programs are available to me?
- Accelerated Admissions & Accelerated Degree Programs
Which law schools offer accelerated admissions to prospective college students (ex., 3+3 programs) and accelerated degree programs to prospective law students (ex., 2-year JD programs, 3-year JD/MBA programs)?