Prep for Law School

What to Expect?

A Law School degree is a Juris Doctor (J.D.) Most law schools offer a three year full time program. However, a few law schools will also offer a part-time four year program or a two year accelerated program. Students should be aware of all admission options prior to applying to the law school. Law School is a great option for any major. Students can focus on any field of interest related to the law. This includes Entertainment, Business, Criminal, Immigration, Government, Public Interest, Sports and many more fields. 

The first year of law school provides you with a strong foundation in the law. However, it is often the most difficult year. Students will learn to transition from the traditional lecture method to Case and Socratic methods of learning. The Case method teaches students to review and analyze large amounts of information in a short period of time. Most law students will spend their first year reading and analyzing cases. The Socratic method involves heavy class participation. Students should expect to be called upon often to engage the faculty and/or their peers in class. In the second and third year of law school, students can begin to focus on a specific field of interest as well as participate in internship opportunities to gain more experience.

Additional Resources: Thinking About Law School, Law School Association Council (LSAC)

Explore Law School

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 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.

Pre-law Advising

The Career Education and Advising team at Career 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 utilize pre-law resources, attend career exploration panels, and law school workshops. Other services include resume and application essay critique, interview preparation, job and internship listings, industry networking events and workshops, and job fairs. Students can make pre-law advising appointments through Handshake. Students can also stop by during Drop-in Advising hours (M-F, 10am-3pm during the quarter) for general advice.

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.

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:

Prepare for Law School

There are no preferred majors and courses that guarantee admissions. You should choose courses that challenge you to read critically, think analytically, and strengthen your writing skills. ABA identified the following list of core skills, values, knowledge and experience that applicants can acquire prior to law school and will provide a foundation towards their professional pursuits.

  • problem solving
  • critical reading
  • writing and editing
  • oral communication and listening
  • research
  • 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.

Discover whether a law career matches your interests, skills and abilities and meets your lifestyle expectations:

Confirm your interest in law, prepare academically and develop the necessary skills and experience through some of the following: