At Vassar, pre-law is handled by the Center for Career Education, with faculty support from Jamie Kelly, Assistant Professor of Philosophy. Students and alums are supported at all stages of the pre-law advising and law school application process.
The Center for Career Education has a variety of resources available to help students determine their interest in the study of law, identify schools that fit, and find opportunities open to them after law school. Our Pre-Law at-a-Glance publication provides more detail on these resources.
Although Vassar has special offices for assisting students interested in law school and a legal career, it does not recommend a special pre-law curriculum. Unlike medical school, there are no specific courses required or suggested for entry into law school. Instead, law schools want students with a broad liberal arts education and a demanding major, not those who have taken a particular series of courses. We recommend that students study fields that genuinely interest them rather than those they think law schools would like to see. The key to a successful pre-law study is to take a wide range of courses, develop a sophisticated understanding in one area of concentration, and do well in all subjects. Vassar does offer courses that can help students determine how interested in law they are, but these courses should not be seen as necessary for entrance into law school.
Key Skills for Gaining Admission to Law School
There are certain skills that the American Association of Law Schools states are most important for preparation for law school. They are:
Creative power in thinking—the ability to do creative research, reasoning, and analysis;
Comprehension and expression in words—the ability to read, write, and speak clearly; and
Critical understanding of the human institutions and values in which the law deals—comprehending the social and economic, cultural, and political context of law and the legal system.
Vassar students interested in law should try to develop these skills through coursework. Any broad-based, liberal arts curriculum and demanding major will impart these skills. You should look for the more challenging courses which ask you to participate actively in research, writing, and speaking in class.
Law School Admissions Standards
Most important to your gaining admission to law school is the formation of good study habits, excellence in your academic work, and scoring well on the standardized Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Grades provide a short-hand indication of the quality of your work, and the higher your grade point average, the better your chance of gaining admission. Law schools also strongly emphasize scores on a standardized test similar to the SAT called the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). This test is meant to test your preparedness for law school by determining how well you read and how well you reason; it measures skills developed over a long period of time.
Law School Recruitment
Each fall, several law schools visit the campus and speak with students planning to apply to law school. Since interviews are not granted to applicants at most law schools, these visits present an opportunity for students to have personal contact with admissions officers. Admissions officers can get to know Vassar students, and students can learn more realistically if a particular institution is the best place for their law studies.
Pre-Law Workshops and Appointments
From time to time, the CCE holds information and advising sessions; students should read the CCE correspondence to stay abreast of relevant events and workshops. Students are also encouraged and urged to speak with the Center for Career Education or Assistant Professor Kelly about their interest in law school and/or the application process. As many law schools operate on rolling admissions, it is important to understand deadlines and plan efficiently and effectively.
Pre-Law Mailing List
To receive updates regarding pre-law at Vassar and law-related events of interest, complete your profile in Handshake and update your “Career Interests.” We recommend filling out all of the sections, but to receive pre-law emails you should select ‘Legal & Law Enforcement’ in the ‘Which industries interest you?’ section.