|Although there is no single set of required courses for admission to law school, it is recommended that potential applicants choose courses that emphasize writing. This includes a year of humanities or civilization studies and a year of social science, plus relevant major and elective courses. In addition, consider courses that develop close reading, analysis, argument, and quantitative skills, which include, but are not limited to American history and government, economics, mathematics, statistics, world politics, literature, linguistics, foreign languages, and philosophy.
Breadth in the undergraduate curriculum is equally important. Beyond whatever major you chose, you must also maintain diversity in your curricular choices. The reasons are obvious. By maintaining breadth, you become an educated person who learns "how to learn" for a lifetime. You gain exposure to a variety of disciplines throughout your undergraduate career, a useful exercise as you either solidify the choice of law school or dismiss law school in favor of another discipline you gained exposure to while maintaining curricular breadth.
But curricular breadth requires further definition, and St. Bonaventure’s Clare College core curriculum is a useful model. In selecting university courses, you should choose courses in which you: 1) learn to think and write clearly and effectively; 2) achieve depth in one or more fields of knowledge; 3) develop a critical appreciation of the ways in which we gain and apply knowledge in the areas of literature, the arts, history, social science, mathematics, and the physical and biological sciences; 4) develop an understanding of the moral and ethical problems of our time; and 5) develop an appreciation of other cultures and other times.
Finally, communication skills are extremely important. Whatever else law involves, it involves sophisticated communication. Although higher education and most of the professions have entered the computer age, the tools of the lawyer are still the written and spoken word. It is, therefore, impossible to overemphasize the importance of developing verbal and written fluency.
A good approach is to choose challenging courses from demanding professors. Follow up your Clare College courses with upper level seminars and research courses. Try to get as much practice as you can in critical thinking and writing.
Strong writing skills are essential for success in law school and as a lawyer. You should make sure that you take at least a few classes in which you will get honest, detailed feedback on your writing. Seek out courses, in addition to your junior writing requirement, where you will be expected to write several papers. Don't put this off until your junior or senior year -- good writing skills will serve you well regardless of whether you ultimately go to law school, and developing those skills should be a priority during your undergraduate career.
Finally, students who choose to pursue study of a foreign language in college will benefit from analysis of the basic elements of verbal and written communication and from cross-cultural insights. For these reasons students are encouraged to study abroad for at least one semester.
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