If you’ve decided to explore a career in law, Western Michigan University has a four-year pre-law study plan and advisors available to help you create an individual program that will position you to apply to law schools of your choice.
No special college program is required or recommended by most law schools. Generally, law schools urge a solid four-year program leading to a bachelor's degree. As long as you receive a quality education featuring critical analysis, logical reasoning, and written and oral communications, any WMU major is acceptable. Most often chosen are English, business, political science, history and economics, but such disciplines as philosophy, anthropology, mathematics, sociology, natural sciences, engineering, education, fine arts and aviation are also suitable majors.
Keep in mind: A strong GPA is essential to getting into law school. One of the best ways to get good grades in college is to select a major that aligns with your strengths and interests, rather than one that you feel obligated to be in. If you're having trouble choosing a major, an advisor can help you find a good fit.
Regardless of your major, you’ll want to take these essential courses:
- Writing, such as English and business communication.
- Legal reasoning, such as administrative law, constitutional law and business law.
- Awareness of the structure and processes of government, such as national government, legal environment and judicial processes.
- Structure and development of American business, the American historical experience, economics and logic.
Law school admissions
There is serious competition for admission to law school, which is based on a variety of factors:
- An undergraduate record is a good predictor of likely performance in law school.
- Grades will be carefully examined and afforded substantial weight.
- Selection of advanced courses will be viewed favorably as will consistency of performance.
- Performance in the last two years.
Law School Admission Test
The LSAT standardized test assesses mental capabilities and measures reading ability and comprehension, writing and reasoning. The test does not stress particular areas of academic content and no advantage or disadvantage results from majoring in one field over another. All law schools require the LSAT and its role in determining admissions cannot be overemphasized. Other factors such as personal accomplishments, graduate or professional schoolwork and letters of recommendation are often considered, though they are given less weight than GPA and LSAT.
Practice exams are available from a pre-law advisor, as is information on the various law schools and their LSAT score requirements.
WMU Pre-Law Society
As a student in WMU's pre-law program, you might consider joining the WMU Pre-Law Society, a student organization that allows students who share a common career interest to interact regularly. The society routinely sponsors discussions with judges and practicing attorneys, trips to law schools in the area, and visits from admissions officials at various law schools.
You may also consider completing a supervised internship. Internship experiences provide an invaluable opportunity for educational growth and enhance your undergraduate record substantially. Depending on your specific interests and background, you may intern with sponsors from judicial, legislative and executive branches of government at the federal, state and local levels. Private sector internships, often with law firms or business corporations in the area, may be arranged as well. Academic credit may be earned for work done as an intern through the academic departments and prior to the actual internship.
The legal profession is highly competitive, and students finishing law school are not guaranteed financial success. Nonetheless, if you have the confidence and record to compete in the legal market, you can build a rewarding and satisfying career. As a pre-law student, you will be advised to cultivate other career alternatives. It is wise to have other options in case admission to a law school does not materialize or circumstances require a year or two of gainful employment prior to beginning law school. Developing career alternatives is a form of insurance and should be a primary consideration as you choose your major and minor.