Department of Politics and Government Pre-Law
Pacific University undergraduates who are interested in careers in law may choose to complete a pre-law track in preparation for law school. The pre-law track is not a major, because the American Bar Association has cautioned against such majors. Instead, law schools seek students who are broadly educated and have shown a strong capacity for critical thinking, clear writing, and analytical work.
Students who complete law school earn a juris doctor (JD) law degree. In order to practice law, graduates often must pass a state-level bar examination. Many graduates with law degrees do not work as practicing lawyers, though. Graduates with law degrees also are often employed as leaders in business and government.
Law is considered a competitive field with more law school graduates than available jobs. However, in 2012, the median pay for practicing lawyers was $113,530.
Program & Requirements
To be admitted to an accredited law school, applicants must complete a bachelor’s degree and take a standardized test called the Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT. Applicants also must submit letters of recommendation and personal statements. Law students take a course of study lasting three or more years, typically including subjects such as constitutional law, contracts, torts, civil procedure, evidence, wills and trusts, criminal law, and other electives related to the student’s area of interest.
Pacific University has sent dozens of students to law schools ranging from New York University to Lewis & Clark, Willamette and Gonzaga universities.
Many majors serve as excellent preparation for law school, so students are encouraged to choose a major based on their interests. A high grade point average and strong performance on the LSAT will be necessary to earn law school admissions (and financial aid packages).
Pacific University offers an active student group, the Pacific Pre-Law Society, which meets regularly to discuss and plan activities such as hosting law school recruiters, visiting law schools and professionals, and inviting practicing lawyers to discussion sessions. Professor Bob Van Dyk also works individually with pre-law students as an adviser to assist with preparation and application for law school.
Bob Van Dyk | Professor & Pre-Law Adviser