The American Bar Association emphasizes that there is no single path for a legal education. Law schools accept students with a broad array of academic backgrounds. Some law students enter law school directly from undergraduate studies, while others begin their legal education later in life.

As such, The American Bar Association (ABA) does not recommend any specific undergraduate majors to prepare for a legal education. Students are accepted to law school from nearly every academic discipline.

The ABA recommends selecting a major that interests and challenges you and develops your research and writing skills. Any rigorous course of study in which you develop skills and knowledge in the following areas will prepare you for law school: problem solving, writing and editing, oral communication, research, organization and management, public service and promotion of justice, relationship-building and collaboration, and exposure to law.

As a prospective law student, you should read widely. This will help you to become well informed and more aware of style and expression. You should also take courses that are sufficiently difficult to help you develop the discipline essential for success in law school. An understanding of political institutions, economics, and historical and philosophical perspectives are also important.

Choosing A Major & Coursework

Frequently Asked Questions

At James Madison University, pre-law is not a major or a minor. It is a pre-professional advising program. By registering as “pre-law,” students indicate their interest in attending law school. Pre-law students have access to a dozen pre-law advisors located across campus who help them select courses and experiences that will prepare them for law school and a legal career.

Pre-law education has no restrictions or requirements. Unlike a major or minor, there is no checklist of courses that a student must complete.

Yes, students should seek out a range of challenging courses that develop critical thinking, writing, and research skills. The American Bar Association (ABA) indicates that there are important skills, knowledge, and experiences that students can acquire before law school that will provide a solid foundation for legal education. Pre-law students should seek out courses and extracurricular experiences that develop the skills listed below. Pre-law advisors can help students to identify specific courses.

  • Problem solving
  • Critical reading
  • Writing & editing
  • Oral communication
  • Research
  • Organization & management
  • Public service & promotion of justice
  • Relationship-building and collaboration
  • Background knowledge
  • Exposure to the law

Selected list of JMU courses useful for Pre-Law students

No, the ABA does not recommend any specific undergraduate major. Students are accepted to law school from nearly every academic discipline. The ABA recommends selecting a major that interests and challenges you, while taking advantage of opportunities to develop your research and writing skills. In fall 2020, there were about 600 pre-law students, representing 41 different majors.

The pre-law program organizes information sessions and workshops on a variety of law-related topics, such as tips for finding a pre-law internship, preparing for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), writing personal statements, and financing law school. We also organize panels with JMU alumni working in legal fields to provide students with exposure to different types of legal careers and advice on navigating law school. JMU also has a Moot Court team and a chapter of Phi Alpha Delta, a co-ed pre-law fraternity.

A 3.0 is a B average--Pre-Law students should be conscious of maintaining a high GPA from early in their academic careers.

JMU students should be aware that the University's Repeat Forgiveness policy will not be helpful to them when they apply to law school. The policy allows JMU students to re-take as many as two courses and--for the purposes of computing the GPA--substitutes the grade earned the second time for the grade earned the first time. However, both grades remain on students' JMU transcripts. Law Services, when computing a student's GPA, factors in ALL grades. For example, if a student earns two F's the first time s/he takes Constitutional Law and Legal Writing but two A's the second time s/he takes those courses, Law Services records both the F's and the A's. This, then, is to advise you to take every course seriously the first time.

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