What Undergraduate Degree is Needed To Become a Lawyer?

LawyerWhat undergraduate degree is needed to become a lawyer? Aspiring law students often ask this question before choosing a college major. Although it’s smart to begin thinking about graduate school early, the good news is that law students study every field imaginable. No specific degree is required for admission to law school or the bar, but some majors are better suited for future lawyers than others.

STEM Fields

The hard sciences are often overlooked by pre-law students, but an undergraduate degree in the natural sciences or engineering combined with a juris doctorate can lead to a lucrative career. Pharmaceutical companies, engineering firms and gas and oil companies all need lawyers who can understand the company’s business practices. Studying petroleum engineering or biology as an undergraduate helps future lawyers master the technicalities of complicated corporations. When it comes to a patent application or a drawn-out legal battle, only a handful of lawyers are able to follow the details of cases involving STEM companies, and those lawyers are well compensated for their knowledge.

Accounting

Another overlooked field for aspiring lawyers is finance. Banks, government offices and private individuals all need attorneys who understand tax codes, financial regulations and accounting practices. The finance and insurance industries pay attorneys more than any other field because they understand how valuable a finance-savvy lawyer is, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, earning an accounting degree and picking up the academic skills necessary for law school is challenging. Combining these math-heavy fields of study with a writing-intensive minor like English is highly recommended, and many students find they enjoy taking a break from their quantitative studies with the occasional literature class.

Humanities and Liberal Arts

Most lawyers study the humanities as undergraduates, and it’s easy to see why. These courses of study teach logical thinking, academic research and strong writing skills, all of which are essential for law students. Earning a bachelor’s of liberal arts provides a strong advantage for pre-law students, and in recent years, philosophy majors have had the highest rates of acceptance to law schools, according to US News and World Report. The LSAT, a test required by all law schools, draws heavily on philosophical and logical puzzles, so many pre-law students take several philosophy classes to prepare.

Paralegal Studies

For students unsure if they want to commit to the time and expense of law school, paralegal studies are an ideal way to get their feet wet. A bachelors in paralegal studies trains students to work in the legal field without requiring massive debt. This degree provides transferable skills for law student by requiring extensive writing, researching and understanding of the law. Many successful lawyers started their career as paralegals and used their training to work their way through law school.

Related Resource: Economist

Admission to law school centers on LSAT scores and undergraduate GPA more than any other factors, including field of study. Aspiring lawyers should choose a field of study they find interesting, because ultimately, the undergraduate degree needed to become a lawyer is the one that allows an applicant to excel academically and earn the high grades that law schools want to see.