Dr. Paul Chen
Department of Political Science
Arntzen Hall 436
Prof. Julie Helling, J.D.
Fairhaven College FA 311
Download: Pre-Law Professional Pathway Guide
Lawyers, or attorneys, research the intent of laws and judicial systems and apply the law as advocates and counselors to their clients' specific circumstances. In doing so they may present evidence and argue in court, counsel clients about legal rights and suggest courses of action in business and personal matters. Additional job aspects and frequency of details depend upon fields of specialization and position.
Lawyers may be self employed as partners in a firm or in solo practice, be employed full time by a single client such as a corporation, work in various levels of government, work for legal aid societies and associations, and even teach.
Law schools require a baccalaureate degree. They do not require a specific undergraduate major, but do seek students who are broadly educated, particularly in reading, writing, and critical thinking. Admission is extremely selective based primarily upon GPA, Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) scores, a personal statement and letters of recommendation. Applicants should excel in oral and written communication; understand economic, political and social institutions; and have well-developed objective and critical thinking skills.
These skills can be developed from any number of majors and minors. In addition, Western's General University Requirements (GUR) will aid in honing these skills.
Because the GPA is an important admission factor, students are encouraged to pursue a major that they enjoy and believe they can excel in academically. If you know what type of law you would like to practice, your choice of major might provide a logical parallel such as:
- Accounting for Tax Law
- Economics or Business for Corporate Law
- Environmental Studies, Geography or Natural Sciences for Environmental Law
- Anthropology, Human Services, Natural Sciences or Sociology for Medical Law
- Art, Music or Theatre for Entertainment Law
- Cultural Studies, Human Services or Sociology for Human Rights Law
Western grads admitted to law schools have come from varied academic backgrounds. Recent majors have included Communications, Economics, History, Philosophy, Political Science, and Psychology as well as interdisciplinary studies. Students enrolled in the Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies may pursue a Law, Diversity & Justice concentration offered through the Center for Law, Diversity & Justice, www.wwu.edu/fairhaven/cldj.
Each November, Western hosts a Law School Info Fair that draws 50+ law schools to the campus. Students meet directly with school representatives to discuss requirements, academic preparation and application procedures. This event is co-sponsored by the Career Services Center and the A.S. Legal Information Center.
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