Pre-Law (Pre-Professional Concentration)
Professor Sam Nelson
The College of Arts & Letters at the University of Toledo will not train you to be a lawyer. Law schools do that, and good law schools do it very well. We can give you the skills and the knowledge that you will need to get into--and succeed in--law school. The University of Toledo can train you to think, to write, and to speak well. We can provide you with the knowledge you will need--knowledge of institutions, of history, of the social and political aspects of the law and with the opportunity to reflect on ideas that guide legal thought. And through attentive, individualized advising and mentoring, the University of Toledo can help you get into the law school of your choice.
There is no specific "Pre-Law" curriculum, though all "Pre-Law" students must fulfill Arts & Letters "distributive requirements." "Pre-Law" means that you are either interested in continuing on to law school, or that you are interested in the study of law for "its own sake". Students who declare an interest in "Pre-Law" will be assigned to advisers who share their interest in the law and who can help them with the difficult process of applying for law school. Furthermore, students who are designated "Pre-Law" will receive valuable information throughout their undergraduate career that can help with their future goals: information about seminars, workshops, and other special events devoted to students with an interest in law.
The College of Arts & Letters is also home to programs designed especially for students interested in law. In addition to the "Legal Studies" option in the Department of Political Science, UT is one of the few universities in the region--and the only state supported university in Ohio--to offer a major in Law and Social Thought. LST is an interdisciplinary undergraduate program offering individualized degrees in the study of the law in the context of the liberal arts. Through this program, distinguished faculty in the departments of humanities and social sciences will provide an intellectual foundation that will be valuable regardless of a student's choice of careers.
Here is a quick guide to resources available at the University of Toledo and on the World Wide Web. Feel free to contact any faculty members or advisers in order to explore what they and their departments have to offer.
- An exceptional catalog of courses in the liberal arts: Any student interested in the study of law will need a background in the humanities and social sciences. Students who consider themselves "pre-law" should take as wide a variety of courses as possible in order to acquire and refine the skills necessary for success in law school or for meaningful participation in legal discussions. Many departments, such as the departments of Economics, Philosophy, Political Science and Public Administration (which also maintains a page dedicated to pre-law studies), and Sociology and Anthropology offer courses tailored to students interested in the law. Think broadly!
- Legal Studies: Students majoring in Political Science have the option of pursuing a "legal studies" concentration. Contact the Department of Political Science and Public Administration for more details.
- Law and Social Thought: This program offers an interdisciplinary major and minor in the study of law and society. It incorporates courses taught in many departments at the university, courses developed for the major, and field experience. Contact Professor Ben Pryor (Philosophy) for more information
- Advising: The University of Toledo has an advising "network" comprised of faculty from diverse departments who can help students who consider themselves "pre-law." Advisers should be approached early in order to discuss recommendations and for assistance in selecting a law school. Use this link to help contact faculty who can assist you in putting together an effective course of study.
- Phi Alpha Delta: A fraternal organization of students preparing for law school. It offers programs, workshops, and group support.
- College of Law: The College of Law at the University of Toledo plays an active role in helping undergraduates prepare for law school. They sponsor workshops, guest lecturers, and debates on topics of current interest.
Q:I plan to go to law school and want to be a "Pre-Law" student, but there is no major called "Pre-Law." What should I do?
A:First of all, even though there is no major called pre-law, you should still designate yourself as a "PLAW" major. While this means nothing by way of curricular requirements or your area of specialization, it will help UT keep you informed and will help you access important information about law schools, jobs, events, internships, and so forth.
With respect to a major field of study, we recommend that you choose a field of study that interests you. You should make an effort to focus on the skills that lawyers need to master--thinking, reading, writing, arguing, and researching. Choose a demanding program of study and do well. Students with majors in Communications, Economics, English, Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology, and Fine Arts and many others can be found in law schools.
You should also pay careful attention to the other factors that will determine your admission into a good law school: your LSAT score, your extracurricular involvements (they indicate your development as a person), and your letters of recommendation. Courses in logic or critical thinking, in writing and statistical analysis can help you with your LSAT score. Courses that teach you how to read analytically and to write clearly will also help you. Your extracurricular involvements should indicate your dedication to your community and your commitment to seeing justice done. You should think about your letters of recommendation early on so that your supporters will have a few years of acquaintance from which to write.
Finally, you might consider pursuing a legally oriented course of studies, either as a Political Science major in the "Legal Studies" concentration, or as a major or minor in "Law and Social Thought," a developing interdisciplinary program at UT.
Q:What determines admission to law school? What is the process like?
A:Law schools consider a number of factors, the most important being your LSAT scores, your GPA, and letters of recomendation. You should work on developing all three of these in order to make yourself as attractive as possible to the law school you want. For more information on the ins and outs of admission to law school, check this source, purchase a guidebook available at any local bookstore, or stop by the office of your college pre-law adviser for a chat or to browse through guidebooks and law school rankings.
Resources on the World Wide Web: The web is full of helpful information to assist you in your search for the right law school and to help with your application. Here are some helpful links that can get you started in your search. Pre-Law Web Resources. Includes links to the necessary and valuable services of the LSAC (home of the LSAT and the LSDAS).
Your departmental adviser or a "Pre-Law Adviser" should be your first contact for more information and advice. Your adviser can help you design a curriculum, check to make sure you have satisfied university requirements, and assist you as you select and apply to law schools. Once you have met with your adviser, you should use all available resources to get informed about the study of law, law schools, legal professions, and the academic and intellectual aspects of legal studies. Here are some links to sites on the world wide web that can help you get started.
- Legal Education (ABA) The American Bar Association maintains a standing committee dedicated to legal education
- ABA--Colleges and Universities The section of the ABA's website dedicated to colleges and universities is of particular interest. See also their growing list of undergraduate programs dedicated to the study of law in society
- List of Undergraduate Legal Studies Programs
- Law School Admission Council LSAT: The official Law School Admission Council LSAT Web site. The LSAC site also
contains valuable information on the LSDAS, a crucial (and not an optional) service
for students applying to law school. The LSDAS prepares and distributes your scores
and transcripts in report form
There are a number of professional organizations dedicated to students of the law and legal professionals. Here are a few:
- Antigone - AALS Section on Women in Legal Education
- ABA - The American Bar Association
- AALS - Association of American Law Schools (contains links to "sections" of the AALS, interest groups composed of faculty and
staff from AALS schools)
The following links are to "Pre-Law" Resources at other universities and colleges:
- Pre-Law Advising at UC Davis
- Pre-Law at Loyola University of Chicago
- Pre-Law Advising at the University of Michiga
- Philosophy Prelaw Program at Cal State Long Beach
- Weinberg College Pre-law Web Resource Page
- Pre-Law Student Services from the Internet Legal Resource Guide
Here are some links of interest to students interested in pre-law, legal studies, law and social thought, or the administration of justice:
- Crime and Punishment
- Prison Links
- Racial Profiling in America