Pacific University undergraduates who are interested in careers in law may choose to complete a pre-law track along with their bachelor's degree 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. Pacific also offers several other pre-professional tracks.
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.
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.
The best preparation for law school is a liberal-arts education. You need to be able to read difficult material well, think clearly, and write cogently. Philosophy, History, English, and even Mathematics, are outstanding majors for law students but are not the only options. 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).
Useful Pre-Law Coursework Offered at Pacific University
- BA 306: Business Law
- CJLS 101: Introduction to Law and Society
- POLS 140: Introduction to US Politics
- CJLS 300: Criminal Justice
- PHIL 315: Philosophy of Law
- POLS 325: American Constitutionalism I: National Powers
- POLS 326: American Constitutionalism II: Rights and Liberties
Strengthening Your Law School Application
Pacific University has a 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 Paul Snell also works individually with pre-law students as an adviser to assist with preparation and application for law school.
Download the guide: Preparing for Law School A Guide to Pre-Law at Pacific University
Law schools want well-rounded applicants. Get involved in extracurricular activities that interest you. They may be law-related, but they do not have to be. You would benefit from looking at internships in the areas of law you think you want to specialize in. Consider volunteering at an organization where you can learn more about the topics or issues you are interested in.
Explore a variety civic engagement opportunities at the policy level, such as participating in lobby days, joining letter-writing campaigns, and volunteering for candidates or ballot measure campaigns. Seek focused civic-engagement opportunities at the policy level, such as interning or volunteering with non-profits that do advocacy, lobbying, legal aid, or policy work or with elected officials or governmental agencies.
More information | Law School Admissions Council