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What is the Pre-Law Concentration?
There is no “pre-law” major at DePaul. The pre-law concentration is a program focused on Legal History and is suitable for anyone with an interest in that subject. The flexible curriculum of this concentration is designed to allow students to shape a plan of study building on two specific and two student-selected legal history courses. DePaul’s pre-law concentration in History is intended to help students understand the law as a part of history, subject to change over time and a part of the social, cultural, and political processes. Students may focus on specific areas of interest within the broad parameters of the program, but this concentration does not require students to focus on the United States or a particular geographical region.
Will a concentration in Pre-Law help me gain admission to law school or prepare me for law school better than a Standard concentration within History?
No. Law school admission is based on (in order of importance): 1) LSAT scores, 2) GPA in a rigorous course of study (e.g., History), 3) letters of reference, 4) personal statement, and 5) other activities. By doing well in History or another rigorous program that requires copious reading, writing, and critical analysis of sources, regardless of concentration, you increase your chances of gaining admission. For those who are admitted to law school, the study of History equips students with the most important skills for success in law school—close reading of sources, critical analysis, and clear writing—at least as well as any course of study and better than many.
Why should I choose a Pre-Law Concentration?
You should pursue a History major with a pre-law concentration if you are interested in understanding the role of the law in shaping U.S. and world history and in understanding how the law has been shaped by society. You will take classes with other students who are interested in a career in law. You will develop relationships with instructors who may be able to advise you on admissions to law school and/or write letters of reference.
What can I do now to improve my chances for admission to Law School?
Go to the Law School Admissions Council Website (http://www.lsac.org/). This is not just a suggestion; you probably cannot gain admission to law school without going to this site. There you will find specific information about dates for administration of the LSAT and the procedure for applying to specific schools including forms you need to download. E-mail Prof. David Barnum in Political Science and ask to be added to his pre-law information list. Prof. Barnum provides information about scholarships, internships, and regular meetings on how to get into law school.Beyond the above sources, be wary. Admission to law school is a bewildering, veiled process. Rumors and dubious, often contradictory, advice fill the place of hard information. Even some law schools publish misleading information, especially regarding financial aid and scholarships. You should maintain healthy skepticism whether looking on the Internet, talking to your peers, or someone who went to law school more than two years ago.You can plan now to study for the LSAT. DePaul does not endorse any of the study courses, but several are offered on DePaul campus through unaffiliated organizations. Additionally, several books are available to help you with the examination.
What classes should I take?
Beyond taking courses to fulfill your requirements, take courses that enhance your reading, writing, and critical analysis skills. Also, take courses that interest you and that you can do well in.
What classes must I take?
The requirements of the pre-law concentration are the same in structure as the standard concentration. The core requirements and lower division (100-200 level) requirements are identical. The difference appears in the upper division (300+). As in the standard concentration, pre-law students are required to complete a practicum course (it can be a legal history course but that is not a requirement). Among the remaining 6 upper division courses, however, pre-law students have to take two specific courses and two courses from a list. History 388 “The History of the United States Supreme Court and Bill of Rights,” and HST 395 “Issues in Non-United States Law” are the two required specific courses, and two 300+ Legal History courses are required.
The department will not make substitutions for HST 388. HST 388 is offered nearly every year and if you are considering a pre-law concentration you should try to enroll in it as soon as you are eligible. If you cannot fit it in your schedule, you need to change your concentration.
Substitutions may be made for 395. For the other two upper division legal history courses you must either take the pre-approved courses or make an advisor approved substitution of a course with a legal history component. The pre-law director will monitor the schedule of offered courses to determine which upper division courses would be appropriate as substitutes for 395 and for the legal history courses and pass those observations along to faculty advisors. Whether you are substituting for 395 or for one of the list of courses, your advisor makes the actual substitution, so be sure to contact your advisor if you intend to substitute a course for HST 395 or for one of the two required legal history courses.