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 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, alumni advisor network, industry networking events and workshops, and job fairs.  Students can make advising appointments through Port Triton.  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.

Alumni Profiles

Meet some of our alumni in the legal field!

Adriana Cara

Adriana Cara, '92


English & American Literature BA

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.)

Christian Waage '89, Managing Director at Receptos, Inc.
Economics BA

Connect with more alumni through the Alumni Advisor Network.

Student Organizations

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.

Academic Preparation

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.

Explore the Profession

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

Get Experience

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

Apply to Law Schools

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 Lawpdf_icon guide to learn how to prepare and apply. 

Law School Admission Test

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.

General Timeline

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

Pay for Law School

Tools to evaluate the cost of law school and how you can pay for a legal education.

Scholarship Resources

Law School Admissions Data

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.



Admission Rates































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.

Admit Data 2016 pdf
Admit Data 2015 pdf

Employment in the Legal Field

Find information about legal job market and salary through:

Other ways to apply your law degree

Careers in the legal field without becoming a lawyer

Additional Resources

Additional resources compiled by the UH Manoa Pre-Law Advising Center
For additional help, come into the Career Services Center or schedule an appointment  via Port Triton.