Pre-Law Advising

Student Union

Philosophy is an excellent major for students who intend to go to law school, and the department offers both a wide range of courses for pre-law students and three resident pre-law advisors, Dr. Rita Manning, Dr. William Shaw and Dr. Anand Vaidya.

Why should a Pre-Law student major in philosophy?

Average LSAT scores of the eleven most popular pre-law majors

Average LSAT scores of the eleven most popular pre-law majors
Major LSAT Score Compared to average Popularity of Major Number of Students
Philosophy 157.0 +4.7pts 11 1,447
Economics 156.2 +3.9pts 6 2,575
History 154.5 +2.2pts 2 5,107
English 153.5 +1.2pts 3 4,968
Psychology 151.7 -0.6pts 4 3,758
Political Science 151.5 -0.8pts 1 13,229
Accounting 151.5 -0.8pts 7 2,098
Sociology 149.4 -2.9pts 8 1,888
Communications 149.4 -2.9pts 9 1,780
Business Administration 148.2 -4.1pts 10 1,758
Criminal Justice 145.4 -6.9pts 5 3,185

Average LSAT scores of the ten most popular pre-law Arts & Humanities majors

Average LSAT scores of the ten most popular pre-law Arts & Humanities majors
Major LSAT Score Compared to Average Popularity of Major Number of Students
Philosophy 157.0 +4.7pts 11 1,447
Religion 156.6 +4.3pts 10 200
Literature 154.5 +2,2pts 5 348
Music 155.0 +1.7pts 7 245
French 153.9 +1.6pts 8 224
English 153.5 +1.2pts 1 4,968
Foreign Languages 153.3 +1.0pts 9 203
Journalism 151.9 -0.4pts 4 793
Liberal Arts 150.8 -1.5pts 6 320
Spanish 149.1 -3.2pts 3 827

More good reasons why prelaw students should major in philosophy:

From the American Bar Association, Law as a Career:

An undergraduate should be aware that there is no particular course of study that is required or preferred by law schools. Accordingly, students from a wide variety of majors (e.g., philosophy, physics, political science, engineering, and business) are admitted to law schools each year. There is no true prelaw curriculum. Generally, a broad-based education that is rigorous and that stresses analytical and verbal communication skills will be useful.

From the Law School Admission Council's Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools:

While no single curricular path is the ideal preparation for law school, you should choose courses that sharpen analytical reasoning and writing skills. Law schools prefer students who can think, read, and write well, and who have some understanding of what shapes human experience.

From Richard Posner (federal appellate judge and former law professor), Overcoming Law. (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 1995):

The methods of analytic philosophy and of legal reasoning--the making of careful distinctions and definitions, the determination of logical consistency through the construction and examination of hypothetical cases, the bringing of buried assumptions to the surface, the breaking up of a problem into manageable components, the meticulous exploration of the implications of an opponent's arguments--are mainly the same. (p. 9)

From the American Philosophical Association:

Intermediate to advanced courses in logic and in the general area of ethics, for instance political or social philosophy, philosophy of law, medical ethics, and business ethics, are very useful. Epistemology, which examines standards of evidence, philosophy of mind, which bears on moral and legal responsibility, and philosophy of language, may also be of special benefit. Philosophy of science is particularly valuable for those intending to practice in the technological or scientific sectors.

Many philosophers and students of philosophy go to law school, and there are now many successful philosopher-lawyers. On the basis of information from law school faculty, from philosophers who have kept track of their students who have gone into the law, and from independent studies, it is clear that philosophical training tends to be of great value both in law school and in legal practice. Further, philosophers tend to do very well on the LSA T examination. A philosopher at a distinguished university noted that even their average graduate students in philosophy who transferred to law school usually did outstanding work as law students...The law is not only a career that interests many philosophers and philosophy students; it is also a field for which philosophical training is generally excellent preparation.