Going to Law School with an English Degree
Careers for English Majors / Goals of Law School / Law School Applicants / Finding the Right School / Taking the LSAT / Applying for Law School / Law School Scholarships
Why English Majors Succeed in Law School
According to the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), "Law schools want students who can think critically and write well and who have some understanding of the forces that have shaped the human experience." English majors are often well-prepared to excell in these skills.
Goals of Law School
A legal education refines and develops a student's analytical, creative, and logical reasoning abilities. Law school demands extensive reading and debating. According to the Law School Admission Council, "students learn to analyze legal issues in light of the constantly changing state of the law and of public policy." They must understand the law's requirements and be able to synthesize and apply legal precedents to various issues and cases.
Students who graduate from law school must take the bar examination before they may begin to practice law. Most students complete law school in three or four years. Programs usually include courses in civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law and criminal procedure, legal methods, legal writing and research, property law, and torts.
Who Are Typical Law School Applicants?
In Fall 2007, there were over 84,000 applicants to law schools (LSAC). According to LSAC survey, about 26 percent of law school applicants were 22 years old or younger; 38 percent were 23 to 25; and 19 percent were between ages 26 and 29. Eight percent were between 30 and 34, and 9 percent were over 34.
Finding the Right Law School for You
Consider your individual needs and interests as you select a law school. Consider the size of the program, location of the school, reputation, and specializations of the faculty. Some schools stress internships and clinical experience more than others. Some schools have better libraries or better mentoring programs than others. You will be working very closely with your professors and your classmates in law school; select a school you feel is a comfortable fit for your living and learning experiences.
Visit law school Web sites or contact law schools for details about their programs, requirements, and application processes. The USC Upstate Pre-Professional Program in Law, housed in the Division of History, Political Science, Philosophy, and American Studies, also offers extra-curricular activities, programs, and LSAT workshops for students interested in pursuing law school.
Taking the LSAT
Students who would like to apply to law school must taken the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), a standardized test that focuses on reading comprehension and verbal reasoning. Students should take the test no later than the fall of their senior year (or the fall of the year in which they will apply for law school). Students register for this test through the Law School Admission Council site at http://www.lsac.org/LSAT/about-the-lsat.asp. Test fees are over $200. Students are encouraged to take a practice test and/or enroll in a LSAT preparation workshop (USC Upstate offers these periodically) before attempting to take the test for the first time.
Applying for Law School
Students should research schools and prepare application materials, including the personal statement and letters of recommendation, in the summer before senior year. Most law school application deadlines are in December. See the University of Delaware guide to the law school application process for more details.
Law School Scholarships
Compiled by Dr. Celena E. Kusch and Dr. Catherine Canino, Spring 2008