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Pre-Law Study|College of Arts and Sciences

Pre-Law Study and Application Process Information

Pre-Law Advisor

Is Law School for You?lady justice

Career Possibilities & Legal Specialties

Preparing for Law School

Suggested Timeline

Resources for the Pre-Law Student

       1. General Resources

       2. Pre-Law Bulletin Board and Law School Bulletins

       3. UW College of Law

       4. Phi Alpha Delta

       5. Pre-Law Magazine

       6.  Selected Readings

       7. Useful Links

       8. The Law School Data Assembly Service (LSD)

       9. The Law School Admissions Test and Preparation (LSAT)


Things to Consider when Applying to Law School

Pre-Law Advisor

The University of Wyoming pre-law advisor can assist students who are considering law school. The Pre-law advisor is available to discuss your interest in law, help you select useful courses, and assist you in the application process. Resource materials, the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSD) informational brochure, fee waiver application, the LSAC/American Bar Association Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools) are available to peruse or pick up. 

Michell Anderson is the pre-law advisor.  She can be contacted in A&S 152; (307)766-2641 and at manders2@uwyo.edu.

Is Law School for You?

Taking time during your undergraduate years to learn about the realistic life and work of a lawyer, carefully analyzing the time, effort, and expenses of law school, and the career options open to you will be time well spent. There are many books that talk about life as a lawyer that can help you ask yourself some questions about your motivation for studying law. Check the selected bibliography below for examples. 

Joining the pre-law club, sitting in on law school classes, attending any pre-law open houses or other functions and speakers at the UW Law School, visiting other law schools and law school forums will actively engage you in the process of your decision-making. 

By taking advantage of the information available in print or online and talking with law professors and legal professionals, you will also discover that your career choices are broader than practicing law in the strict sense. You may find that your law degree opens doors into other careers such as government, business, politics, teaching, publishing, and journalism, among others.  

Career Possibilities and Legal Specialties

What can you do with a law degree? Anything you want to! The career choices are virtually limitless. Here are some legal specialties and practice areas as defined by the National Association for Law School Placement www.nalp.org.   

  • Admiralty and Maritime Law
  • Antitrust Law
  • Appellate Practice
  • Banking and Commercial Finance Practice
  • Bankruptcy Law
  • Civil Litigation
  • Corporate Practice
  • Criminal Law
  • Entertainment and Sports Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Family Law
  • Government Contracts Practice
  • Government Practice
  • Health Care Law
  • Immigration Law
  • Insurance Law
  • Intellectual Property Law
  • International Law
  • Labor and Employment Law
  • Legislative Practice
  • Military Judge Advocates/JAG
  • Municipal Finance Practice
  • Public Interest Law (i.e. Civil Liberties, Children’s Rights, Disability Benefits, Human Rights, Elder Law, Veteran’s Rights, etc.)
  • Real Estate Law
  • Securities Law
  • Solo, Small Firm, and General Practice
  • Tax Law
  • Telecommunications Law
  • Tort Law: Personal Injury and Insurance Defense Litigation
  • Trusts and Estates Law

In addition to having a wide variety of areas in which to use a law degree, you have just as many choices in the type of employer you could work for. The following is a brief list of the options available to you.

Corporate:

  • In-House Counsel
  • Consulting Firms
  • Insurance/Banking/Financial Services
  • Legal Publishing Firms
  • Entrepreneurial Opportunities

Government:

  • Federal (Administrative Agency, Justice Dept./U.S. Attorney, Federal Public Defender, Legislative Branch, Judicial Clerkships)
  • State (Attorney General, Legislative Branch, Judicial Clerkship)
  • Local (City/County Prosecutor, Municipal Attorney, Local Public Defender)

Non-Profit Organizations:

  • Hospitals/Health Care Organizations
  • Education/University/Law School
  • Foundations
  • Labor Unions/Trade and Professional Organizations 

Public Interest:

  • Legal Services
  • Public Interest Law Center/Law Firm
  • Social Action Organization    
  • Issue/Policy Organization
  • Public Interest Litigation Organization

Private Practice

  • Large Firm
  • Small Firm
  • Solo Practice 

For more information on legal careers, career resources, employers, and legal resources visit the website for the UW College of Law Career Services Office at www.uwyo.edu/law/career-services/.

Preparing for Law School  

As at most universities, pre-law students at the University of Wyoming are majoring in a variety of disciplines in any of the colleges - Agriculture, Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, Engineering, and Health Sciences. Most law school deans and faculty, the Law School Admissions Council, the American Bar Association, and most universities have no officially prescribed pre-law major or concentration.  Law schools look for and accept students from all majors and a variety of backgrounds. Any student who anticipates applying to law schools is considered a pre-law student.  However, there are guidelines in approaching your undergraduate study to prepare you for the challenges of a legal education and the profession.   

Selecting courses and majors

(A new pre-law minor is available!)

First, choose a major that interests you and that may lead to an alternate career if you later decide that law school is not for you. Pre-law students at UW pursue study in fields as varied as criminal justice, biology, business, engineering, English, finance, music, philosophy, and political science. If you are in doubt as to a major, counselors in UW’s Center for Advising and Career Services (222 Knight Hall, 766-2398) http://www.uwyo.edu/CACS/ can help you explore your interests, strengths, and options. When applying to law schools it will be important to have a strong academic performance record so choosing a major that really interests you will be most beneficial as well as providing you with alternate career choices.   

Second, during your undergraduate years, consider the skills required of successful law students and lawyers. They spend their time reading, writing, speaking, negotiating, and solving complex problems. They value the ability to analyze, to reason cogently, to think abstractly, and to write and speak precisely and effectively. Look for rigorous courses to increase your abilities in these areas such as seminars and other courses that require research, writing and discussion.  Rigorous courses will also help you develop the reading, analytical, and logical skills that are needed to do well on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). 

Do balance your coursework. If you are studying political science or engineering, take also a selection of courses in the sciences, literature and fine arts. If majoring in the sciences or literature, go beyond the basic general requirements and take additional courses in the social sciences, fine arts and a foreign language. Whatever legal work you eventually do, you will deal with people who have diverse interests and backgrounds. The more you know about their worlds, the better you can serve them. A thoughtful selection of courses to fulfill the University Studies Program requirements at UW is a good way to broaden your education and develop skills.

You should also have a basic grasp of United States history and the structure and philosophy of our government. Courses in American history and literature, political science, American studies, economics, ethical theory, and political philosophy are valuable. You will learn the law more easily if you understand the context out of which it comes.  Courses in logic or critical thinking in the Department of Philosophy may help your performance on the logical and analytical reasoning questions on the LSAT.

Generally, law schools will be looking for a candidate whose undergraduate academic performance is strong and reflects a personal, intellectual engagement with the course of study.  A sound foundation in a specific major supported by a broad liberal arts education and a competitive grade point average should prepare you to do well on the Law School Admissions Test and the application process.

  • A note to Criminal Justice Majors

 If you plan to major in Criminal Justice, this program has a pre-law concentration you may declare. Check the Department’s web page for more information, http://www.uwyo.edu/CJ/.

  • Add more to your skills, knowledge, experience         
  • Take advantage of extracurricular opportunities to learn more about the law and refine your skills in leadership, organization, time management and communication.
  • Look for internships or volunteer service in the community.
  • Study abroad to learn about diverse cultures and international institutions and issues.
  • Join campus organizations of interest to you, including the Pre-Law Club and the UW undergraduate chapter of Phi Alpha Delta Legal fraternity.
  • Become actively involved in your classes by seeking opportunities to pursue some in-depth research activity in areas of interest to you. Your instructors and academic advisors can give you guidance.
  • Make sure you get to know your professors – by the time you are a junior or senior several professors should know you and your academic interests and performance well enough to write meaningful letters of recommendation. Choosing classes that require discussion, research, or oral presentations are excellent ways to interact with instructors.
  • Attend lectures by lawyers, judges, and government officials when they speak on campus.
 

Resources for the Pre-law Student

 1.  The LSAC is a good source of information about pre-law, law schools, and the services provided by this nonprofit organization that administers the LSAT and provides services  to students and the law schools during the application and admissions process.

  • Test and the Law School Credential Assembly Service.
  • The Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools
  • Recruitment Calendar of annual law school forums.
  • Thinking About Law School: A Minority Guide booklet.
  • The Ten Questions for Minority Law School Applicants booklet.
  • Loan Information.

2. Pre-law Bulletin Board and Law School Bulletins

Postings of interest to pre-law students are on a bulletin board across from A&S 152. There you will also find posters from many law schools, including cards for ordering their Bulletins.
Many law school bulletins are in the Simpson Lounge, A&S 139. 

3. The UW College of Law  invites pre-law students for tours of the law school, mock law school classes, faculty and law student panels, and receptions. You may even participate in moot court sessions as a juror. During Law Week in October undergraduate students are encouraged to attend lectures and presentations.

4. Pre-law club and Phi Alpha Delta Legal Fraternity, International

The University of Wyoming Pre-law Club welcomes new members to help you gain knowledge of the legal profession by facilitating interaction with legal professionals, law school deans and professors, and law students. The group also organizes mock Law School Admission Test sessions, mock trials, visits with area law schools, and opportunities to socialize, have fun, and network. Contact Cheryl Burnett, A&S Bldg. 223, 766-2988 or cburnett@uwyo.edu for membership information and meetings.

Check out the Phi Alpha Delta membership scholarship.

5. The magazine Pre-Law provides excellent advice on all facets of pre-law study and the application process.  It is free and available at A&S 152.

6. Selected Readings for pre-law students

Abrams, Lisa L. The Official Guide to Legal Specialties, An Insider’s Guide to Every Major Practice Area (Harcourt Brace, 2000).

Arron, Deborah. What Can You Do With A Law Degree? A Lawyer’s Guide to Career Alternatives Inside, Outside, and Around the Law (Seattle: Niche Press, 1999).

Full Disclosure: The New Lawyer’s Must Read Career Guide

Law Services. Financing Your Law School Education (Law School Admission Council).

Law Services. The Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools (American Bar Association, Law School Admission Council).

Law Services. Out and In, Information for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgendered Law School Applicants (Law School Admission Council).

Law Services. So You Want to be a Lawyer: Practical Guide to Law as a Career, Revised edition (Law School Admission Council).

Law Services. Thinking About Law School: A Minority Guide (Law School Admission Council).

Montauk, Richard W.  How to Get Into the Top Law Schools  (Prentice-Hall, 2001).

 

7. Useful Links

Law School Admissions Council – www.lsac.org

All ABA approved law schools - www.abanet.org/legaled/approvedlawschools/approved.html

Law schools in the Rocky Mountain Region

Colorado
           
University of Denver College of Law – www.law.du.edu
University of Colorado School of Law – www.Colorado.edu/law 

Montana

University of Montana School of Law – http://www.umt.edu/law/

Utah

Brigham Young University, J. Reuben Clark Law School – www.law.byu.edu
University of Utah College of Law – www.law.utah.edu

Wyoming

University of Wyoming College of Law – http://www.uwyo.edu/law/

Financial Aid Resources
            Access Group - www.accessgroup.org
            Admissions Dean - www.admissionsdean.com
            Association of American Law Schools – www.aals.org
            Equal Justice Works - www.equaljusticeworks.org
            Federal Student Aid - www.studentloans.gov and www.studentaid.ed.gov
            Free Application for Federal Student Aid – www.fafsa.ed.gov
            The Smart Student Guide to Financial Aid – www.finaid.org
            National Association for Law Placement – www.nalp.org
            National Association for Public Interest Law – www.napil.org

Pre-Law Information Sources
            American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) – www.aallnet.org/index.asp
            Association of American Law Schools (AALS) – www.aals.org
            American Bar Association - Preparing for Law School -This site also includes links to the ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools, and other information.
            Council on Legal Education Opportunity - www.cleoscholars.com
            Editorial Services for Personal Statements - www.accepted.com and www.essayedge.com
            Internet Legal Resource Guide, Pre-Law Student Services - www.ilrg.com
            Law 360 - www.law360.com
            Law Preview - www.lawpreview.com
            National Association for Law Placement (NALP) - http://www.nalp.org/Prelaw/
            National Conference of Bar Examiners - www.ncbex.org
            Princeton Review http://ww.princetonreview.com
            Recruit for Law School - http://www.recruitforlawschool.org/--Be sure to click on the tab, 'Applying to Law School' which includes, among other topics, advice about personal statements and letters of recommendation among other topics.
            State by state requirements to become a lawyer - www.lawyeredu.org  

Pre-Law Organizations/Information                                                                                                                  
            Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity, International – www.pad.org
            Pre-Law Advisors National Council (PLANC) – www.planc.org
            Midwest Association of Pre-Law Advisors (MAPLA) – www.mapla.org
            Northeast Association of Pre-Law Advisors (NAPLA) – www.napla.org
            Southern Association of Pre-Law Advisors (SAPLA) – www.saplaonline.org
            Southwest Association of Pre-Law Advisors (SWAPLA) – www.swapla.org
            Western Association of Pre-Law Advisors (WAPLA) – www.wapla.org

Legal Organizations/Associations
            American Law Institute – American Bar Association – www.ali-aba.org
            Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA)– www.hnba.com
            NAACP Legal Defense Fund – www.naacpldf.org 
            National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) – www.napaba.org
            National Bar Association (NBA) – www.nationalbar.org
            Native American Rights Fund (NARF) – www.narf.org

Other useful sites with links to additional information (These are provided for your information and research, but UW does not endorse any site or its products/services)

HierosGamos, the Comprehensive Legal Site www.hg.org/schools.html

Kaplan’s Guide to Law School and the LSAT www.Kaptest.com

Free LSAT practice tests.  http://www.testclub.net/lsat/

The Law School Admission Test and Preparation (LSAT)

The Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) is a half-day standardized test that is required for admission to all member law schools of the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). It provides a standard measure of reading and verbal skills that law schools use as one of several factors in assessing applicants. These skills include: 

  • Reading and comprehension of complex texts with accuracy and insight.
  • Organization and management of information and the ability to draw reasonable inferences.
  • The ability to reason critically.
  • Analysis and evaluation of the reasoning and argument of others.

The LSAT is given four times each year (June, September/October, and February) at numerous locations within and outside the United States. A packet of information about the test, test dates, testing sites, and an application form may be obtained: 

  • From the Law School Admission Council at www.lsac.org
  • By mail from LSAC at Box 2000, Newtown, PA 18940-0998 (automated system phone number  is 215-968-1001; or 215-968-1001 weekdays)
  • From the UW School of Law or the UW pre-law advisor listed above. 
  • UW Testing Center, Knight Hall, Room 4, 307-766-2188.

There are a number of ways to prepare for the LSAT. The Law School Admission Council offers several preparation tools, including copies of recently administered tests. You can visit LSAC website at www.lsac.org or contact the LSAC at (215)-968-1001 for more information about test preparation aids.

Among many others, the private companies that also offer preparation help are:

The Law School Data Assembly Service (LSD)       

Almost all ABA-approved law schools and several non-ABA-approved schools in the United States will also require that you subscribe to the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSD). The LSD is a five-year subscription that prepares and provides a report for each law school to which you apply. The subscription comes with one law school report and there is an additional cost with each additional report you will require for the number of law schools to which you apply. This law school report provides a means of centralizing and standardizing undergraduate academic records to simplify the law school admission process and contains the following information:

  • An undergraduate academic summary
  • Copies of all undergraduate, graduate, and law school transcripts
  • LSAT scores and writing sample copies
  • Copies of Letters of Recommendation processed by the LSAC

You may want to subscribe to this service at the same time that you register for the LSAT to simplify the paperwork, but you do not have to. The important thing is to understand that this service will coordinate your academic and biographical information, as well as your test score, for the law schools to which you apply and that you will have to subscribe about a year before you plan to apply to law schools. LSD needs to have enough time to process your transcripts before your applications arrive at the law schools. The law schools to which you apply will obtain a copy of the report directly from the LSD.  The forms you will need to use for this service are in the current year’s LSAT/LSD Information book or downloaded from www.lsac.org.

You may also send letters of recommendation to be kept on file. Up to three letters received by the LSD will be sent to each school to which you apply. All letters of recommendation should be sent to the LSD as soon as possible after you register for the service. This can be done even before you decide on the specific law schools.

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