Law School - Academic Preparation

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What major should I select if I wish to attend law school?

There is no officially recommended pre-law major here at Cal and law schools do not require or prefer any particular major; they look for an undergraduate educational background that sharpens analytical reasoning and writing skills.

So, you can study any major and still apply to law school. However, it is recommended that you choose a major that reflects your own interests, skills, and ability. Since your GPA is a major factor in law school admission, choose a major that you enjoy. It stands to reason that the more you enjoy your major, the better you will perform in terms of grades.

What types of courses should I take to prepare for law school?

While there are no required majors or courses for law school, admissions officials look for solid academic courses taken as part of a rigorous undergraduate program. A solid knowledge of the English language and good writing skills should be developed. Likewise, courses that stress the ability to reason logically, systematically, and analytically are necessary. Courses that provide a general understanding of the business world and economics are quite helpful. A broad understanding of human institutions will provide knowledge of the social context of legal problems as well. Classes that inspire debate or require oral presentations will provide additional preparation.

How important is a good GPA?

Your GPA is one of the top two determining factors for admission to law school. It is usually given the same or slightly less value than the LSAT. Admissions committees not only look at your cumulative GPA from all undergraduate colleges and universities you attended, but also consider a year-to-year GPA breakdown. All courses taken for a letter grade are considered in this breakdown; in other words, the GPA in the major is not typically considered as a separate element. Because law schools examine your GPA year-to-year, substantial and continuing academic improvement will work to your advantage; improvement in grades reflects not only your ability to work hard, but also your ability to maneuver through college while grasping more difficult material.

Should I take courses for a Pass/Not Pass (P/NP)?

Although you may take some courses P/NP, you should realize that the Credential Assembly Service (CAS) converts a NP to an "F" and calculates it into your GPA as a zero. The "P" is given no value and is not factored into the GPA. Therefore, if you are considering applying to law school, be selective when using the P/NP grading option. Whenever possible, choose courses that engage your interests and take them for letter grades.

On the Law School Statistics page, some of the average GPAs are greater than 4.0. How is this possible?

Because of the wide range of grading systems used by US colleges and universities, the CAS converts records into a standard format. Your CAS GPA may be different from your Cal GPA. For example, the CAS assigns an A+ a value of 4.3, while at Cal, an A+ is equivalent to 4.0. Since the CAS also takes into account all undergraduate coursework taken at other institutions, your CAS GPA will probably be different from your Cal GPA if you took classes at other colleges or universities. Detailed information about CAS GPA calculations can be found on the LSAC website.