For students interested in a legal career, choosing to major in “pre-law” seems the logical course — except that the major often doesn’t exist.

There actually are no prerequisite courses needed to apply to law school. The general criteria are an undergraduate degree from an accredited school, the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) or the GRADUATE RECORD EXAMINATIONS® (GRE®) test and requirements specific to each school you are applying to. Some colleges may offer a concentration of pre-law classes you could take in addition to another major like political science, English or history, but some schools don’t offer anything specifically designated for lawyers-in-training. If you’re looking for a major that’s on the path to law school, the options are wide open and can seem overwhelming.

To help you with that decision, five lawyers share what they majored in and how the choice helped them — or didn’t — in law school and beyond.

1. Journalism

“Majoring in journalism allowed me to do a lot of writing and work on my communication skills. So, it was really helpful in preparing me for the legal profession, especially since I’m a contract lawyer. Plus, as a journalism major, I had to read a lot, which prepared me well for law school.”

Christy Foley, contract attorney

2. Business Administration

“In college, I earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in business management from the University of Kentucky. As a business owner, my degree has had direct relevance to what I do now in owning and running my own law firm — everything from accounting to finance, marketing and leadership I can attribute to skills I learned from college.”

Karl Truman, personal injury lawyer

3. Philosophy

“Being a philosophy major helped me in law school because law school is all about logic. Philosophy taught me how to build strong arguments and find flaws in weak arguments.”

Jory Lange, food safety lawyer

4. Economics & Political Science

“My undergraduate is in political science and economics. Critical thinking, a curious, open mind along with communication and writing skills are the foundation of any legal career — but beyond that, my courses from urban land economics to Russian cinematography to political theory did not in any way come up during my 11-plus years of practicing corporate law.”

Kelly Hoey, author and lawyer

5. Biology & Political Science

“At Maryville College, I was a double major in biology and political science. As a trial lawyer who focuses on representing personal injury clients, my science background has been beneficial in understanding the injuries and medical treatment my clients have undergone.”

Morris Lilienthal, personal injury attorney

Whether or not you become an attorney, you’ll likely find that some of what you learn in college is useful in your career and some is not. You may not know how your classes or major will serve you until long after you’ve made your selection and are well into your career. The best advice is to focus on what course of study interests you and follow that path. Taking classes that appeal to you and are challenging will be enriching, regardless of where your professional future takes you.

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