College students considering law school often ask which major will prepare them for success in law school. The answer is simple: choose a major that challenges you, requires you to think deeply, broadens your horizons, and sparks your passion.
For those of you who are interested in the law, but don’t have a specific direction that you are considering, I would encourage you to take classes that require you to read much, and to read closely. In law school, you will be required to read many cases each week, and to read them carefully and critically. Therefore, college classes that require you to practice this skill will be helpful.
Similarly, classes that allow you to work on your writing skills will be helpful in law school. Lawyers (and law students) need to be able to express themselves in writing that is clear, concise, and persuasive. College courses that allow you to work on your writing, and that provide feedback, will benefit you.
Regardless of whether you end up practicing corporate finance or family law, it is helpful to take at least one college class that exposes you to basic financial concepts. Even if you don’t go into Tax Law or Securities Regulation, most lawyers encounter financial instruments, and basic economic concepts, in the course of their practice. Seton Hall Law has introduced a new class for our students called Financial Concepts for Lawyers, so we will prepare you once you get here. Still, it’s not a terrible idea to gain some exposure to these issues before you come to law school.
For this same reason, I also recommend taking at least one history class that focusses on the Revolutionary War and post-Revolutionary War period in America. Students are surprised how often in law school they encounter concepts like federalism or separation of powers that grew from America’s independence movement, and that were established when our Constitution was first negotiated. It’s helpful to think about how some of these concepts were developed when we first established the core values of our republic.
Many students will come to our law school with backgrounds in engineering, biology, or computer sciences, with the intent of going into health law or intellectual property law. If that’s your intent, rest assured that your preparation will be a real positive; you will be able build upon your background once you come to the law school. This is not to say that you can’t go into health or intellectual property law without a science background—many of our students do—but the science background will give you a certain focus in your study of the law.
At our law school, we have had successful alums who came to us as musicians, and with majors as diverse as French, Philosophy, and Biology. Of course, we also see our fair share of Political Science and Economics majors. However, what these students all had in common is that they were challenged in college to think deeply, to be inquisitive about the world around them, to read often, to write well, and to respect the opinions of others. Focus on those skills in college, and, no matter what your major is, you’ll be prepared to succeed in law school.