When I applied to law school over a decade ago, I remember being told that there is no perfect major that guarantees acceptance into a program. I remember hearing that certain majors were more popular than others for students applying to law school. But, there was no such thing as a law major back in my day. In fact, when I entered law school I had never taken a single law class in my entire academic career in both undergraduate and graduate school. Most of my friends in law school were learning law for the first time right alongside of me. Fast forward to present day where I am now a college professor teaching at a four year undergraduate institution. The undergraduate academic world I experienced is a different landscape in terms of courses being offered today. The state of undergraduate legal education is growing and it is growing quickly.
The American Bar Association still does not mandate that an individual has to have a certain major or taken law classes. However, there is a large number of undergraduate law classes being offered to students. Personally, I have taught the following classes to undergraduate college students: introduction to law, justice, and advocacy; conflict resolution; appellate advocacy; business law; communication law; and even a public speaking course focused on the First Amendment. All of these classes are offered at my private mid-size university. Imagine the legal course offerings for a larger state school.
You may be wondering why this information is of significance to the legal profession. The answer to that is one word — diversity. Long gone are the days when only history or English majors were accepted to law school. Nowadays, students are majoring in a wide range of fields and many of these majors include a law course. For example, an environmental science major may be required to take environmental law. At my school, all business majors are required to take business law.
Early exposure to law at the undergraduate level may spark an interest in some students that never would have previously considered a career in law. This will prove beneficial to law schools as they will be able to attract a wider range of majors, more diverse students, and have the added bonus of accepting students that already have some exposure to the academic content.
Additionally, the current generation of college students is ethnically more diverse than ever before. With increase diversity of the student body population and a wide range of classes, the future of the legal profession is a bright one. It will have an influx of individuals with a variety of interests and backgrounds. There will be the potential for new ideas and creative solutions to existing problems. Pro bono hours will be achieved at a greater level.
Our future lawyers are getting an early start with their legal education. With a law class being available in almost every discipline or field, the potential for an influx of a wide range of talented individuals is inevitable. This is great news for a profession that has a long history and one that is facing new challenges moving forward into the future.