General Guide for Freshmen & Sophomores
(The following general information is presented in brief. For a detailed discussion of undergraduate preparation for law school, see Preparation for the Study of Law.) Suggested readings referred to below may be found at Prelaw Publications.
Investigate pre-law resources
A good place to start is IUB's Health Professions and Prelaw Center (HPPLC) in Maxwell Hall 010. Read Services Available to Prelaw Students at HPPLC. Sign up for HPPLC's prelaw email listserve by clicking here. The prelaw list informs you of upcoming prelaw events, programs, LSAT and law school admission workshops, and visits to IU by admission officials from around the country.
Make an appointment to meet with a Prelaw Advisor: Our advisors are happy to meet with you to talk about your individual situation, timeline, preparation for law school, or whatever you'd like to discuss. Just call 812-855-1873.
Stretch yourself academically
Take a variety of classes that require you to read, write, research and analyze. Read Law School Admissions—Questions and Answers for Freshmen and Sophomores, The Prelaw Curriculum, and Expert Advice on Undergraduate Preparation for Law School.
Choose the "right" major
The "right" major for a pre-law student is any major that you love to study, one in which you can excel, and one that will give you another career or graduate study option if you change your mind about law school. At IUB and at most colleges around the country there is no "prelaw" major! Virtually any major can prepare you quite well for the study of law, and law schools absolutely do not prefer one major above others. Do NOT choose a major because of how you think law schools will react to it. Law schools look for diversity in their entering classes. That diversity includes diversity of undergraduate major. See Selecting a Major for Law School, and Law School Admissions—Questions and Answers for Freshmen and Sophomores.
Get to know professors, at least one per semester
Go to office hours even if you don't have questions about the material. Prefer smaller classes to larger ones; consider repeating a professor with whom you've done well, and whose teaching style you enjoy. When the time is right, ask for a letter of recommendation.
Get letters of recommendation
You will need at least two letters when you apply to law schools. Normally junior year is the optimal time to ask, but sophomore (and occasionally even freshman year) may not be too early, depending on the circumstances. Ask while the impression you have made is fresh. Whenever you are ready, open a file with the HPPLC Recommendation Service. Most applicants will benefit from having at least two letters by the end of their junior year. While law schools prefer academic letters (from professors or AI's), employers, internship or volunteer supervisors, coaches, or anyone with whom you have a professional relationship may be appropriate as well.
Consider getting involved in the community
Don't over-extend yourself freshman year, but plan on getting involved at least as a sophomore. As with choosing a major, seek out opportunities that interest you, not what you think law schools "want to see," because law schools, as stated above, look for diversity of experiences. Step out of the "college comfort zone" and find opportunities that put you together with people who are "not like you." Read What Law Schools Look for in an Applicant, and Law-Related Volunteer Opportunities.
Investigate legal careers
Sign up for the prelaw email list to receive notice of prelaw events at IUB by clicking HERE. Visit the IUB and other law schools-ask for a tour and to sit in on classes. Talk to attorneys and consider scheduling informational interviews. Read about the profession. Click HERE for a reading list.
Self-assessment: know why you want to be a lawyer
a. Be very specific-you'll need more than: "I've wanted to be an attorney since high school/middle school/kindergarden" or "I want to help people and serve the community" or "my parents always said I like to argue."
b. If you don't intend on practicing law, determine whether alternative credentials might more efficiently help you accomplish your goals.
c. Complete a Prelaw Self-Assessment Questionaire by clicking HERE.
Get a resume and keep it updated
If you need or would like professional assistance in setting up a resume, make an appointment with the Career Development Center. Know the difference between a job-search resume and the kind you send to law schools. See the HPPLC publication Resumes for Law School Applications.
Keep a mini-journal
The personal statement can be crucial to your success. Find out about it by reading HPPLC's webpages HERE, plus the HPPLC publications: Writing an Effective Personal Statement for Law School, and The Personal Statement.
As relevant experiences, events, and ideas take place, jot down notes about them for your possible use later. Any event or experience that is meaningful to you personally, as well as academically or professionally, is potential raw material for this essay. Pay particular attention to experiences that influence your decision to pursue a legal career. To investigate the actual process for drafting this document, click here.
Students with heavy debt loads (educational and credit card) may have more difficulty getting government and/or private loans for law school and may unintentionally limit their job options upon graduation from law school. For information about financial aid for law school, see HPPLC's "Financial Aid for Law School Basics" webpage, and, for details about specific loans that are available, repayment calculators, etc., see www.accessgroup.org.
Stay out of trouble
You'll have to disclose and explain any brushes with the law, including speeding tickets and even incidents that have been dismissed, expunged from your record, or subject to Pretrial Diversion--no exceptions! While such incidents seldom have a negative impact on your chances for admission, clean records are best, as there is nothing to explain. Your Prelaw Advisor can help you with the explanatory statement.