Undergraduate Majors and Courses
Selecting an Undergraduate Major
Contrary to popular belief, there is no pre-law major; that is, there is no specifically required or recommended undergraduate major for students planning to attend law school. Students should choose a major based on their interests and abilities.
As the data below indicate, while some majors are more popular than others, students apply to law school from a wide variety of academic backgrounds.
|Undergraduate Major||% of applicants|
|Other Majors||each < 4%|
Do not infer from the above data that law schools prefer one major over another; differences in majors' popularity are a result of students' interests rather than law schools' preferences. Once again, choose a major based on your interests and abilities.
Choosing Undergraduate Courses
There are no specifically required undergraduate courses for students planning to attend law school. However, taking certain courses will often be advantageous for preparing oneself for law school.
First, as noted in the following excerpt from the Law School Admission Council's Statement of Good Admission and Financial Aid Practices, there are several skills that are essential to succeeding in law school and as an attorney.
"It is proper [for law schools] to prefer students who have taken courses such as those that develop skills in both written and oral communications, develop analytical and problem-solving skills, or promote familiarity with the humanities and social sciences to understand the human condition and the social context in which legal problems arise." (1999, p. 2)
When deciding which courses to take, read course descriptions and, if possible, syllabi in an attempt to identify those particular courses that will be most helpful in improving the above skills as well as being interesting to you. Almost every discipline offers upper-level courses that will help prepare students well for law school.
Second, taking courses related to law may help you make decisions about law school (e.g., whether or not to attend, which areas of specialization to consider) and will provide various perspectives on law. Such courses should not be viewed as prerequisites for law school; rather, they will help you determine where your interests lie and will place the study of law in wider context. The list below identifies such courses offered at Loyola University Chicago.
Third, pre-law students are strongly encouraged to do a law-related internship, preferably during their junior year. An internship is an excellent opportunity to see first-hand the law at work in society. You can make connections during an internship, gain useful advice from practicing attorneys, and perhaps have an experience around which to craft your personal statement. Several departments have large internship programs. Contact the internship director a semester before you want to do the internship to discuss your options.
Undergraduate Courses Related to Law
The following Loyola University Chicago courses are taught regularly in the College of Arts & Sciences. See the university's Schedule of Classes for information on offerings during a particular term.
362. Roman Law. An introduction to the general principles and basic concepts of Roman civil law (law of persons, property, obligations, family, inheritance, and civil procedure), with emphasis upon the Late Republican/Early Imperial period.
252. Mass Communication Law. Cases and issues in constitutional, statutory, and regulatory law that affect the journalist and broadcaster. Special emphasis on the First Amendment and FCC regulations.
319. Communication in the Legal System. Theory, research, and practice of communication employed in the U.S. court system. Special emphasis on the effects of court rules and procedures on modes and content of argument, nonverbal communication, and the jury decision-making process.
Almost all courses are directly related to the law and the legal system.
311. Advanced Composition for Pre-Law Students. Studies in argument and exposition from a lawyer's perspective for students considering the study of law.
372. American Constitutional and Legal History to 1865. An introduction to the origins and growth of American constitutional law from colonial times to the Civil War; a survey of the English common law heritage, the ideological roots of the American revolution, and the formation of the Constitution. The transformation of American law into a tool of economic development, and changing role of the legal profession will be explored. A study of the debates over slavery, state's rights, and civil liberty will examine the coming of the Civil War.
373. American Constitutional and Legal History since 1865. Introduction to the law and the legal process in American history since 1865; constitutional law will form the central focus; civil liberties, minority rights, criminal justice, federalism and the process of adjusting political and economic power in a free enterprise system; Americans' instrumental uses of the law to effect social change.
323. Philosophy of Law. Relation of law and philosophy; philosophical prepositions of laws; law as social control; theories of origin and purpose of law; current legal problems involving value judgments.
319. Women, Law & Public Policy. The purpose of this class is to examine the formulation and implementation of public policy that governs the legal status of women and men in America. It will focus on issues of legal equality under the Constitution, equal employment opportunity, equal pay and comparable worth, sexual harassment, educational equality, and reproductive rights.
320. Constitutional Law.Due Process. The Supreme Court's role in defining substantive and procedural due process issues such as criminal procedure, individual autonomy, and economic regulation.
321. Constitutional Law.Powers of Government. The Supreme Court's role in allocating power among the three branches of the national government, and between the state and national governments.
322. Constitutional Law.Rights and Liberties. The Supreme Court's role in defining constitutional guarantees of equal protection and individual freedom.
323. Children, Law & Public Policy. The constitutional rights of children in the home, the classroom, and the courtroom, and such policy areas as public welfare assistance, child abuse and neglect, and child support enforcement.
353. International Law. Introduction to legal principles and procedures of recognized international law.
384. Judicial Process. This course will examine the judicial process at all levels of the American court system. Using a systems analysis approach, we will study the roles that lawyers, litigants, judges and the public play in the legal system. Further we will study civil, criminal and appellate procedure in the state and federal courts. Finally we will analyze judicial output from economic and political perspectives.
385. Introduction to Law. After exploring different views of the concept of law, we will examine users and objects of the legal system (people involved in legal disputes, crime victims, and those accused of crimes), roles of "gatekeepers" for the legal system (lawyers and police), and decision making by judges and juries. In the course of our examination, we will study aspects of selected substantive areas of law (e.g., constitutional law, criminal law, family law).
372. Psychology and Law. Reviews the overlap between the fields of psychology and law, including such areas as repressed memories, eyewitness testimony, scientific jury selection, insanity defense, crime causation, battered spouse defense, and death-qualified juries.
212. Patterns of Criminal Activity. Analysis of a wide range of activities that are defined as criminal from the perspectives of the society, offenders, and victims. Kinds of crimes covered include violent and personal, occupational, political, contentional, organized, professional, and property crimes. Attention will be paid to how these crimes are similar, how they differ, and how society responds to them.
215. Law and Society. The law as a social institution and the lawyer as an occupation will be examined. Attention will be given to the development and change in definitions of what is legal and illegal, the growth of the many facets of the legal system (courts, regulatory agencies, criminal and civil divisions, etc.), the social control functions of law, and the impact on society of an ever growing and more specialized legal system.
Legal Environment of Business
315. Law and the Regulatory Environment of Business I. This course is designed to familiarize the student with the American legal system. Intended primarily for students who have not previously studied law, the course includes a review of the concept of law, the function of courts, and the dual judicial system of the U.S. Also included are an analysis of contract law and a survey of other topical headings.
351. Law and the Regulatory Environment of Business II. This course is designed to familiarize the student with the legal concepts supporting the major forms of doing business, such as partnerships, limited liability companies, and corporations. The regulations concerning federal bankruptcy and the use of negotiable instruments as a substitute for money and a representation of credit are also treated.
399. Selected Topics in Legal Studies.
308. Children, Families and the Law.
An analysis of children and families from a socio-legal perspective. The emphasis will not be on the changing details of the law but on basic legal principles, institutions, and processes which affect children and families, and which are important for helping professionals to understand and advocate for children and families.