First, what are the steps needed to become a lawyer? The minimum degree required to apply to law school is a bachelor’s degree in any discipline. The American Bar Association states that law school applicants have a variety of different degrees – English, economics, business, journalism, criminal justice, philosophy, and political science, as examples.
The next step is the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), whose score becomes one of the criteria admissions’ departments’ reviews before acceptance. The standardized test measures reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, writing, and logical reasoning. Students have the opportunity seven times a year to sit for the 3 1/2 hour multiple-choice test, which has a score range of 120-180. The average score is 151, according to The Princeton Review.
What do the statistics reveal?
Is the captioned question factual, or is it a supposition that many students with a bachelor’s in political science (polisci) proceed to law school? If the answer is in the affirmative for the query, then polisci should be one of the most popular for law school candidates. For the academic years 2016-2017, according to the Law School Admissions Council, 12,693 applicants had a bachelor’s degree in political science. The association of polisci and law continued into the 2019-2020 application cycle, with an increase in the percentage of law school applicants by 3.1%. Agree or disagree with the Trump administration – the controversial nature of his party has sparked an interest in politics.
During the same academic year as above, the second and third place undergraduates majored in psychology (3,778) and English (3,549), respectively.
An essential consideration in selecting a major is ensuring you can attain a high GPA. Law schools look at your GPA and do not take into account the difficulty of the coursework. Business administration can be rigorous, therefore, challenging to maintain an impressive GPA for all four years of the Bachelor’s program. In support of choosing business, it is advantageous for individuals who intend to work in corporate law or related fields.
An online article in Above the Law in February 2019 reported that 45% of law school applicants did so because of the turbulent state of affairs in the federal government. This figure is a substantial jump from the 32% who were influenced by politics in 2018 to apply to law schools. Confirming the trend is the data from a survey of 121 U.S. law schools, where 87% of admission officers stated that they attribute the increase in applicants because of politics.
The above percentages come from surveys conducted by Kaplan University, purchased by Purdue University, creating Purdue Global University. Kaplan has retained its name for continued education and national test preparation and test taking – one being the LSAT. An executive director at Kaplan cautions students about being swept up in the political maelstrom as a presidency lasts only eight years maximum. Law school debt may persist long after that timeframe!
Why political science?
The correlation between polisci and law is valid. Some institutions, The Ohio State University, for example, attest that many of its political science graduates pursue a career in law. One reason the OSU program and others appeal to future law students is a curriculum containing courses in American Constitutional Law, Civil Liberties, Politics and Decision Making, and the Supreme Court. The typical undergraduate program also includes classes in international politics, social theory, state government, judicial process, and comparative politics. A solid background in constitutional law and public policy is beneficial to one’s law studies. And more so for individuals with political aspirations and those who want to work within a state government or at the federal level.
The partnership of law and government agrees with U.S. senators as 54% of them attended law school. Also, 37% of House members have a law degree. Concerning law schools with alumni in the current 116th Congress (began January 3, 2019), Harvard has 23, followed by Georgetown University Law School with 14 alumni. Further statistics show that the top five states with the highest percentage of members of Congress with a law degree are:
- Alabama 89%
- Maryland 80%
- Colorado 78%
- Rhode Island 75%
- Connecticut 71%
There are numerous reasons to opt for polisci for your undergraduate degree; however, this needs to be tempered by what area of law you wish to pursue. Criminal defense or plaintiff law may be better suited to concentrate on criminal justice or forensic psychology. Individuals interested in estate law might explore economics or finance as a major. With so many specialties and sub-specialties in law, one is not confined to one discipline for your undergraduate degree.
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