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Undergraduate Curriculum

Which classes should I take at F&M if I plan to go to law school? What is an "appropriate" major?

There is no pre-law major, no preferred major, and no particular courses that prepare for law school. In terms of subject matter, the law deals with the relation of persons to one another and of persons to things. All courses at Franklin & Marshall deal with theories, hypotheses, models, issue discernment, discrimination of differences in similarities, and identification of similarities in the apparently different. They all employ some or several modes of analysis. They all employ oral and written communication and reasoning. Skill in all of these things is what law schools are looking for, and they really do not care whether these skills are cultivated in Religious Studies, Government, Chemistry, or Drama.

There are few students who are absolutely sure that they want a career in, say, environmental law. If that is the case, they might want to major in Geosciences and take several other courses in the natural sciences. Or, there may be some students who know they want to be tax attorneys. They will undoubtedly want to take several courses in accounting. More often it is the case, however, that a few students who have majored in one of the natural sciences, for example, come to the late conclusion that they would like to go to law school.

The real question is not what major prepares for you law school. Of more interest is what major is of sufficient interest to you to enable you to do well academically. It is not advisable to meet the bare minimum of the major requirements and to load up the rest of the program with introductory courses. Law schools are not particularly hospitable to students whose transcripts display an abundance of introductory (100-level) courses. Majors, courses, and instructors who demand that students write well, think clearly, communicate effectively, and appreciate nuance should be preferred by those who aspire to the legal profession.

That being said, the American Bar Association recommends certain areas of knowledge that "maximize your ability to benefit from a legal education:"

  • A broad understanding of history, including the various factors (social, political, economic, and cultural) that have influenced the development of our society in the United States.
  • A fundamental understanding of political thought and of the contemporary American political system.
  • Some basic mathematical and financial skills, such as an understanding of basic pre-calculus mathematics and an ability to analyze financial data.
  • A basic understanding of human behavior and social interaction.
  • An understanding of diverse cultures within and beyond the United States, of international institutions and issues, of world events, and of the increasing interdependence of the nations and communities within our world.

Source: click here

  • Keiper Liberal Arts, dedicated 1937
  • Keiper Liberal Arts, dedicated 1937

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