Why Go Into Law?
Denison graduates are successful in gaining admission to law schools across the country. Students' performance on the Law School Admission Test and their academic records are the major determining factors in the admissions decision. The acceptance rate of Denison graduates is consistently well-above the national average.
Law school—and the legal profession—is for people who like debating, assembling and developing facts, expressing ideas clearly, probing issues and problems to basic premises or solutions, conducting interviews to obtain information, and the art of negotiating. If you enjoy reading and studying, analyzing logically and precisely, disputing and arguing, and both speaking and writing, then you will probably enjoy the rigorous study of law as well as a career in the practice of law.
Explore the field of law by completing a Denison Internship or spending a full summer working in a law firm or another legal environment. See if you like thinking and writing as a lawyer. Find out if you feel comfortable in a legal setting. Representatives from a number of schools regularly visit the campus. Attending career panels, programs and completing internships in legal settings helps students make informed career decisions.
Before launching into the law school application process, spend some time examining your motivation to develop a career in law. Self-assessment is an important first step. Ask yourself questions like:
- What is it about the practice of law that attracts me?
- What skills do I have that would make me a good attorney?
- What are my values and ideals and how will they relate to a legal career?
- What, in fact, do lawyers do?
- Is that really what I want to spend my life doing?
- Are there other careers which would be more appropriate for my skills, interests, attitudes, and values?
- Talk with Denison alumni or attorneys in your community who are practicing law. Ask them what it is about the legal profession that they find satisfying and unsatisfying. Get in touch with J.D.'s who are using their legal degree outside the more traditional law firm environment. Talk with those who have left the practice of law for other career fields, and ask them why they have taken another direction. Read books and articles about careers in law. Find out about the job market and salary ranges of attorneys. Consider how you will finance your legal education.
Preparation for Law School
While the American Bar Association does not recommend nor do law schools require certain majors, graduates of liberal arts institutions are well prepared for the study of law. A recent statement by the ABA identifies important skills and values as well as significant bodies of knowledge that are thought to provide a solid pre-legal education. It is significant that these skills and values are the hallmark of a liberal education.
Denison graduates who have chosen the legal profession represent a broad array of majors: chemistry, English, philosophy, religion, political science, history, psychology, sociology/anthropology, economics, Black Studies, and Women's & Gender Studies.
Among the core skills and values considered by the ABA to be essential for competent lawyering are the following:
- Analytic and problem-solving skills
- Critical reading abilities
- Writing skills
- Oral communication and listening abilities
- General research skills
- Task organization and management skills
- The value of serving others and promoting justice
Denison's general education requirements and academic majors, minors, and concentrations all help the pre-law student to develop these skills as well as some of the following basic areas of knowledge deemed important as preparation for law school:
- A broad understanding of history, particularly American history, and the various factors (social political, economic and cultural) that have influenced the development of the pluralistic society that presently exists in the United States;
- A fundamental understanding of political thought and theory, and of the contemporary American political system;
- A basic understanding of ethical theory and theories of justice;
- A grounding in economics, particularly elementary micro-economic theory, and an understanding of the interaction between economic theory and public policy;
- Some basic mathematical and financial skills, such as an understanding of basic pre-calculus mathematics and an ability to analyze financial data;
- A basic understanding of human behavior and social interaction; and
- An understanding of diverse cultures within and beyond the United States, on international institutions and issues, and of the increasing interdependence of the nations and communities within our world.
If you are interested in the complete statement on Preparation for Legal Education approved by the ABA section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, visit the link[aba].
In addition to academic course work, it is recommended that the pre-law student explore the legal profession by completing an internship in a law firm or a legally-related environment. Denison's link[internship] provides opportunities for students to apply for legal internships or to design their own. A three-week or summer-long internship may help to confirm your career direction and even to define your focus on a particular application of the law.
The Application Process
Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) will be administered in October, December, February and June. Registration booklets for the LSAT are available in Career Exploration & Development. While it is highly recommended to take the June test prior to the senior year, you may sit for the September test, with scores being released in late October. December test takers receive their scores in early January and need to be particularly aware of early application deadlines. Details regarding the LSAT are available through the Law School Admission Council Law School Admissions Counselor.
Preparation for the LSAT
Denison has a new resource through the Ohio link library and the new website has three free, timed practice exams for the LSAT, GRE, GMAT and MCAT. The website is www.learningexpresslibrary.com/ and you need to create a free account and be logged in at Denison's webpage. With LearnATest.com's practice tests, you'll get:
- An online practice test in the various categories, just like the official exams
- Instant online score and detailed answer explanations
- A personalized analysis that identifies your strengths and weaknesses so you'll know how to prepare.
Preparation for the LSAT is an individual matter. The Triple Prep Test Plus publication of the Law School Admissions Council is an excellent resource for self-study. You may secure this book and other practice tests with your LSAT registration or borrow copies from the Career Resource Library.
An additional option is to enroll in the Kaplan Test Preparation course or the Princeton Review course offered at centers across the country throughout the year. Both also offer courses during the Fall semester at Denison. Call 1-800-KAP-TEST for details. Information for the Princeton Review courses is at http://www.princetonreview.com.
Subscribe to the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS) a service which forwards your LSAT scores and your transcript analysis to the schools to which you are applying. Details on the LSDAS subscription are available through the Law Schools Admission Council.
Arrange an individual appointment with Career Services to discuss the entire application process including the decision regarding where to file applications. For selection of law schools appropriate for you, use resources in the career resource library.
Financial Aid Information for Pre-Law Students
Several institutions and private loan companies have developed websites to address the concerns and questions students have about securing financial aid. The following is a list of financial aid resources:
Selecting a Law School
The official guide to US law schools provides a fairly comprehensive two-page narrative profile of all 199 ABA-approved U.S. law schools, usually including a grid reporting previous year's acceptance profiles. Searchable links of over 199 ABA approved U.S. Law Schools and applications for all law schools is available through the Law School Admissions council website at http://www.lsac.org.
Home pages of ABA-Approved law schools, Law School Admissions Council, providing current information on curriculum, admissions, financial aid, placement and other details of importance to you in selecting law schools for your application process.
The Ohio State University Union on High Street will host a number of law school representatives. Take time to visit tables of those schools to which you are most interested in applying. Pick-up application materials and other law school publications.
Complete applications and personal statements well ahead of the stated deadlines. Most schools consider applications as they are completed, so it is advantageous to get yours in earlier than the stated deadline. See Career Exploration & Development for selected resources on writing the Personal Statement.
Websites for Prospective Law Students
Pre-Law page of the National Association for Law Placement (NALP)
NALP is a nonprofit educational association established in 1971 to meet the needs of the participants in the legal employment process which includes legal employers, law schools, law students, and graduates for information, coordination, and standards. NALP's membership includes virtually every ABA-accredited law school and more than 800 of the nation's largest legal employers. NALP is committed to providing leadership in the areas of legal career planning, recruitment and hiring, and research related to the employment market for law graduates. Education Resource page of the American Bar Association (ABA).
ABA approved law schools; frequently asked questions about law school accreditation; preparation for a legal education; admission to the bar; careers in the legal profession.
The Council on Legal Education Opportunity (“CLEO”) was founded in 1968 as a non-profit project of the American Bar Association Fund for Justice and Education to expand opportunities for minorities and low-income students to attend law school and become members of the legal profession by providing pre-law recruitment, counseling, placement assistance and training.
Pre-Law page of the Internet Legal Resource Guide
The Internet Legal Resource Guide (ILRG) purports to be a comprehensive resource to the information available on the Internet concerning law and the legal profession. The link above will take you its pre-law page, where you will find numerous links to information on law schools, LSAT preparation, application strategies, rankings, and pre-law guides from various colleges.
Pre-Law page of Hieros Gamos
Hieros Gamos is an even more comprehensive legal research web site than the ILRG, with links to sites for law schools, law firms, bar associations, legal journals and much, much more. The link above will take you to their pre-law page, where you will find links similar to those on the Internet Legal Resource Guide.
Admissions page of Jurist
JURIST is the Internet's legal education portal, the university-based academic gateway to authoritative legal instruction, information and scholarship online. JURIST is edited by a team of Net-literate law professors from law schools across the United States and around the world. It's designed for people learning, teaching or researching law - legal scholars, law students, law librarians, lawyers and judges, journalists, and interested citizens.
Welcome to the Legal Division (LGD) of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC)
Comprised of 25 attorneys and 3 administrative support personnel, the LGD is responsible for delivering professional, comprehensive legal training to over 70 federal law enforcement agencies, including the United States Secret Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and the Internal Revenue Service, among others.
- 2015 LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools
The American Bar Association (ABA) defines paralegals as:
“persons who, although not members of the legal profession, are qualified through education, training or work experience, are employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, governmental agency, or other entity in a capacity or function which involves the performance, under the direction and supervision of an attorney, of specifically delegated substantive legal work, which work, for the most part, requires a sufficient knowledge of legal concepts, such that, absent that legal assistant, the attorney would perform the task.”
The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) in 1987 defined the paralegal as:
“a person qualified through education, training, or work experience to perform substantive legal work that requires knowledge of legal concepts and is customarily, but not exclusively, performed by a lawyer.”
No matter what the definition, paralegal or legal assistant career opportunities continue to be popular. If you are interested in learning more about paralegal opportunities, come to the Career Resources Library where you will find two extremely helpful books:
- Paralegal: An Insider's Guide to One of the Fastest-Growing Occupations of the 1990s (Second Edition), Barbara Bernardo, Peterson's Guides, Princeton, NJ, 1993
- How to Land Your First Paralegal Job, Andrea Wagner, Estrin Publishing, Santa Monica, CA, 1992
Students with an undergraduate degree can apply directly to law firms and other agencies and organizations seeking paralegals, in which case in-house training is offered. A second option is to complete a formal Paralegal Training Program. For an extensive listing of paralegal training programs, visit the web-site noted in the index, National Federation of Paralegal Associates.