Pre-Law Advising Guide

Pre-Law Advising

Our goal is to help Wilson students and alumnae prepare for law school and guide them through the admissions process. Wilson College provides excellent preparation for any student wishing to attend law school. Its strong liberal arts curriculum with an emphasis on writing and speaking is highly valued by law schools. Wilson students have the unique opportunity to take advantage of the college’s admissions agreement with Vermont Law School. Under this agreement, Vermont Law School will automatically admit any Wilson student to its JD, MSEL or joint JD/MSEL programs so long as the student meets a reasonable set of criteria. This is a very exciting and distinctive opportunity for our student body! Check out the Vermont Law School Wilson College Agreement tab below. There is no pre-determined major or course of study law school applicants need to pursue in order to be successful. While law schools do consider the academic rigor of your chosen course of study, they view majors equally, from Veterinary Medical Technology to English to Political Science. Any of Wilson’s broad range of majors, and the academic rigor required therein, will help students gain the skills they need to succeed in the legal profession. If you are a prospective Wilson student, you are encouraged to email the pre-law advisor with any questions you may have about Wilson’s pre-law advising program. If you are a Wilson student or alumna who is planning to attend law school, please email the pre-law advisor to set up an appointment to discuss your future plans. The following links will be useful to students throughout the pre-law advising process. Issues and questions addressed include: Is law school right for me? What should I be doing to prepare for law school? Are there any classes I should take? What is the timeline for the application process? Are grades and LSAT scores the only criteria that matter in admissions? What’s a personal statement and what are law schools looking for? How should I go about getting letters of recommendation? How should I decide where to apply? Wilson College values personalized, one-on-one advising between faculty and students. This personalized advising is certainly available to you throughout the pre-law advising process, and we encourage you to take advantage of it.

Preparing for Law School: 10 Things to Do

If you are a freshman or sophomore, you may be asking yourself, “Are there things I should be doing to prepare for law school?” The answer is yes, though they are not necessarily law school-specific. Here is a list of 10 things you can do to make yourself a stronger candidate for law school admission.

#1 Pick a major you like and excel in it
Once again, law schools are not interested in whether you pursued a law-related major. However, they are interested in how well you do in your major, so pick something tailored to your abilities and talents, as well as your interests. A double major and a long list on minors will not necessarily help you.

#2 Build and maintain a strong GPA
It is important to get good grades during your first and second years of college. If you do not, it will be very difficult for you to make up for it during your remaining years. Since GPA is one of the most important considerations in admissions, building a strong one early cannot be underestimated. 

#3 Pursue activities and take on leadership roles
Law schools are interested in your extracurricular activities, as they do seek well-rounded candidates. Pick several activities in which you can get really involved and take on leadership roles, but do not overwhelm yourself to the extent that your grades suffer. Schools will also be interested in your summer jobs and service activities.

#4 Take a wide range of classes that allow you to develop writing, research, and analytic skills
It cannot be emphasized enough that these skills are exceedingly important for your success in law school and the legal profession. You should take classes that will hone these skills. Also, law schools will consider the variety and depth of the courses you took. For example, if you didn’t leave the art department in your years at Wilson, this will cause admissions councilors to question your interest, motivation, and intellectual curiosity.

#5 Take a couple of law-related classes
While undergraduate law-related classes do not necessarily reflect the content of law school courses (in difficulty, depth, or method) it would not hurt to take a couple of such courses. If you discover you absolutely hate reading cases and doing legal research, or develop a strong distaste for the subject matter in general, you may want to reconsider your reasons for going to law school.

#6 Get to know a few faculty members well
The purpose of getting to know faculty members is so that they can write you good letters of recommendation when the time comes. A letter from a professor you know only superficially will not be very helpful to you. So, take smaller classes with these faculty members, participate in their classes, and stop by their office hours.

#7 Talk to friends, relatives, and Wilson alumnae who are in the legal profession
This is a fantastic way to get the inside scoop on the legal profession and learn what the glossy law school brochures won’t tell you. Be sure to come up with specific questions and ask them to be perfectly honest in their assessments.

#8 Purse an internship at a law firm or legal organization
This is another fantastic way to really get to know the legal profession from the inside. I cannot think of a better way to help you determine whether this profession is right for you. On the one hand, it may reinforce your law school ambitions. On the other hand, this experience may shatter your preconceived notions about what the profession is like.

#9 Research job titles and descriptions
Students who express interest in applying to law school are often not aware of the range of jobs that will be available to them. Do research and discover possible, specific jobs you may like to pursue.

#10 Keep it clean and stay out of trouble
For law school and for life, be sure to keep the information about you on the Internet unobjectionable. So, clean up your MySpace, Facebook, blogs, and whatever else may be out there. Law schools do check these places and do make admissions decisions based on what they find there. You should give them no reason to question your character. Also, stay out of trouble with the law. Any offenses on your record— underage drinking, DUIs, reckless misconduct, and so forth—you will have to report on your application. And you will have to be honest here, as your law school applications will be examined when you fill out your background check information for the bar exam. In many cases, academic misconduct (plagiarism, honor violations) and any other university-related disciplinary actions will also be submitted to law schools in the form of Dean’s reports.