Pre-Law Advising

Roanoke College Pre-Law Advising

As the Roanoke College Pre-Law Advisor, it is my job to provide information and guidance as you decide whether to attend law school. On average, law students spent over $75,000 on tuition and books during their three years of law school. Thus the decision to pursue a law degree should not be made without careful deliberation. If you don't know what you want to do after graduation from Roanoke College, then work for a year. Backpack across Europe. Wait Tables. Join the Peace Corps. In other words, don't spend $25,000.00 on one year of law school tuition because you aren't ready to enter the "real world."

On the other hand, don't rule out attending law school because you don't want to be the next Perry Mason. A law degree is a marvelously versatile tool, and not all law school graduates become courtroom attorneys. Many lawyers combine their legal training with business and financial skills, focusing on corporate, tax, telecommunications or real estate law. Some law school graduates never practice law, instead become politicians, government employees, lobbyists, mediators, journalists, academics or authors.

Despite what you may have been told, there is no such thing as a pre-law "major." Law schools want students who possess solid analytical, writing, and public speaking skills. You should select a major which focuses on critical reasoning and crisp, clear writing. Although not all majors offer the added benefit of improving your ability to speak in public, you can hone your oral advocacy skills through a variety of extra-curricular activities (such as student government or mock trial).

Moreover, don't sacrifice a well-rounded college career in pursuit of a perfect grade point average. Yes, grades matter. Law school admissions officers, however, also want to see a well-rounded applicant who has been involved in campus activities. The discipline needed to play basketball or run a student organization while simultaneously maintaining solid grades is a better predictor of law school success than the ability to cloister yourself in the library for 20 hours a day.

While there is not a pre-law major, there are steps you should take during your sophomore or junior year in preparation for applying to law school. Almost all law schools require applicants to take the LSAT, a three hour multiple choice test that is "a standard measure of acquired reading and verbal reasoning skills that law schools can use as one of several factors in assessing applicants" (LSAC). The LSAT is a challenging test, and many individuals take LSAT "prep courses" during their junior year. I would strongly encourage you to do so.

Students should also consider the myriad internship opportunities available through the Public Affairs Department. In the last few semesters, Roanoke College students have interned for federal and state judges, state prosecutors, and private attorneys. The internship experience will enhance your resume and, more importantly, give you a small but important glimpse into the American legal system.

I will be happy to meet with you and discuss the law school application process. Below are some websites that you might also wish to consult.

Rankings of the top law schools

Information on the Law School Admissions Council and the LSAT

Information on LSAT preparatory courses

University of Chicago Pre-Law Information Center

American Bar Association

The Boston College Career Office offers a wealth on information on law schools, including the law school locator (which takes your GPA and LSAT scores and finds those law schools at which you are competitive)

Homepage of the federal judiciary

Multimedia information site on the United States Supreme Court