Preparation for Law School

The professional training of an attorney requires a minimum of three years from an American Bar Association (ABA) approved law school to earn a Doctor of Jurisprudence (JD) degree. Law school graduates can choose from adoption law, agricultural law, antitrust law, arbitration law, bankruptcy law, civil law, communications law, constitutional law, contract law, corporate and securities law, criminal law, dispute resolution law, employee benefits law, entertainment law, environmental law, family and juvenile law, geriatric law, health law, holistic law, human rights law, immigration law, information technology and privacy law, intellectual property law, international and comparative law, internet law, labor law, maritime law, mental health law, municipal law, native law, patent law, personal injury, poverty law, public interest law, real estate law, tax law, telecommunications law, trial law, and trust and estate law. This list is frequently updated to be as inclusive and accurate as possible.

There are no required courses or specific majors to be admitted into law school. Selection of a major should be based upon an area of interest and not upon consideration of law school. Courses listed below may assist students in developing the skills, values, and a knowledge base that could help them be successful within a law school curriculum. Appropriate skills could include use of the Socratic Method, critical thinking, problem solving, and debate, persuasion, advanced writing, research, listening, and effective communication. Coursework that explores societal morals and values is necessary for developing cultural awareness and appreciation. A general knowledge base of humanities, social sciences, and business academic areas are needed to comprehend the pluralistic society within and outside of the United States. The following courses might be of interest to students.

  • Agricultural Education and Studies (AGEDS 451)
  • Business (ACCT 215, ACCT 316, Mgmt 370, Mgmt 371, MGMT 414, MGMT 471, and MGMT 472)
  • Communication Studies (COMST 101, COMST 102, COMST 218, and COMST 310)
  • Construction Engineering (CON E 380)
  • Criminal Justice Studies (CJ ST 240, CJ ST 320, CJ ST 332, CJ ST 340, CJ ST 341, and CJ ST 402)
  • Economics (ECON 101, ECON 102, ECON 301, ECON 302, ECON 320, and ECON 321)
  • English (ENGL 302, ENGL 309, ENGL 310, ENGL 313, and ENGL 418)
  • History (HIST 221, HIST 222, HIST 453, and HIST 472)
  • Human Development and Family Studies (HD FS 380)
  • Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS 350D)
  • Philosophy (PHIL 206, PHIL 207, PHIL 230, PHIL 332, and PHIL 334)
  • Political Science (POL S 215, POL S 319, POL S 320, POL S 362X, POL S 420, POL S 421, POL S 422, POL S 476, and POL S 483)
  • Speech Communication (SP CM 312, SP CM 322, SP CM 323, SP CM 324, and SP CM 327)

As students start their preparation for law school, they need to be aware of the following points:

  • All law schools require submission of LSAT scores. This test is typically taken 12-16 months before starting law school. ISU students usually score well on the LSAT. A competitive applicant for most law schools will score 155 or above on the LSAT. Information about the LSAT can be found at www.lsac.org. Law school information is available through www.las.iastate.edu/academics/prelaw/index.shtml.
  • Bruce Allen, ISU Pre-Law Adviser, can be contacted at allenbs@iastate.edu or by phone at 515-294-4831.
  • Gaining admission to law school is a very rigorous process. Most applicants have a 3.50 GPA and above.
  • Law schools usually require three letters of recommendation. Students should get to know their professors, instructors, academic advisers, employers, and volunteer coordinators, as these recommenders will be able to speak about the students’ skills, personal characteristics, and abilities that would make them a competitive candidate for law school.
  • The LSAT score and accumulative GPA make up approximately 60-70% of the law school admission decision. A law school applicant’s personal statement, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular activities are the remaining admission criteria that are included in the law school admission process.
  • Since a personal interview is not usually part of the admission process, students should directly contact their law schools of interest and speak with an admissions representative to have questions answered and/or concerns addressed. Many law schools have a rolling admission policy and students should apply early. Students should also research their law school websites early for scholarship deadlines.

The LAS 290C Fall semester pre-law seminar class entitled, “Preparation for Law School”, is available to all ISU students. Participation in the ISU Pre-law Club is beneficial for all ISU pre-law students.