12 Best Pre-Law Schools for Future Lawyers

Mixed race businesswoman reading at desk in law library
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If your career goal is to become a lawyer, you're going to need to earn a bachelor's degree followed by a Juris Doctor degree. While you'll want to earn your JD from one of the country's 203 law schools accredited by the American Bar Association, you can earn your undergraduate degree anywhere. The nation's best law schools admit students from regional public universities as well as prestigious Ivy League schools.

The best pre-law schools for aspiring attorneys are those that have strong academic advising for students interested in legal professions, impressive placement records for top law schools, and a rigorous undergraduate curriculum that will both develop essential lawyering skills and lead to success on the LSAT.

Keep in mind that the best colleges for pre-law are not necessarily schools with a pre-law major. In fact, most do not offer a bachelor's degree in pre-law. Successful law school applicants can major in anything, and the data for law school admissions reveals that the best pre-law majors are not predictable fields such as pre-law or criminal justice. English, philosophy, and math majors have a stronger placement record.

The schools below are presented alphabetically rather than forcing them into any kind of artificial ranking. Comparing a comprehensive university to a small liberal arts college would be a dubious exercise. All the schools below, however, have excellent support for pre-law students and strong records of placing students into law schools.

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Amherst College

Amherst College
Amherst College. Photo Credit: Allen Grove

Located in Amherst, Massachusetts, Amherst College is one of the nation's top liberal arts colleges, and it is also an excellent choice for students interested in studying law. Political Science, Economics, and LJST (Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought) are the most popular majors for pre-law students, but Amherst's rigorous and highly flexible curriculum makes any major a fine choice.

Amherst's Loeb Center for Career Exploration and Planning has excellent resources for assisting students who wish to attend law school. Also, the school's $2.5 billion endowment that supports just 1,800 students means the college has more resources per student than Harvard. More resources means more opportunities for building an impressive resume.

Rankings of top pre-law schools tend to emphasize those that send the most students to law school. Such a system will always favor large universities and fail to capture the likelihood of an individual student being admitted to a good law school. When law school applicant statistics are adjusted for the size of school, we find that many liberal arts colleges do just as well, if not better, than large universities with greater name recognition. Amherst College is a prime example, for this small school outperforms most of the Ivies with the number of students per capita who go to law school.

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Barnard College

Barnard College from Broadway
Barnard College from Broadway. Photo Credit: Allen Grove

One of two women's colleges on this list, Barnard College has a range of advantages for producing strong law school applicants. Its location in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan means students have ready access to internship and shadowing opportunities in the city. Also, the college's affiliation with Columbia University means that students have the advantages of both a large comprehensive university and a small liberal arts college.

Barnard's Athena Pre-Law Society is a student organization whose primary mission is providing resources, events, and learning opportunities to help Barnard women succeed on their paths to law school. Highlights include networking events, LSAT workshops, and a program that pairs pre-law students with mentors in the Columbia Law School.

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George Washington University

George Washington University
George Washington University.

 Ingfbruno / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

George Washington University's location in the nation's capital means that students are just a short walk from the very place where U.S. law is made. Like most schools on this list, GW does not have a pre-law major, but it has something far more important: a robust pre-law advising system. The university has a Pre-Law Advising Team to help students identify the best law schools for their interests and put together a winning law school application. The university also recruits strong undergraduates to serve as Pre-Law Ambassadors who provide outreach to prospective pre-law students and help support a range of events, seminars, and workshops.

GW ranks high nationally both for the raw number of students who attend law school as well as the per capita number of pre-law students.

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Georgetown University

Georgetown University
Georgetown University. Kārlis Dambrāns / Flickr / CC by 2.0

Another university in Washington, D.C., Georgetown University has broad strengths. Along with its excellent track record of placing students in top law schools, the university ranks among the nation's best Catholic universities and best pre-med schools. Its political science major is also one of the highest ranked in the country.

Georgetown's Cawley Career Education Center supports students with pre-law advising as well as resources to help students craft stellar personal statements and succeed on the LSAT. Another Georgetown perk is the Early Assurance Program (EAP) that allows juniors to apply for early admission to the university's top-ranked law school. Finally, the Georgetown Pre-Law Society is a student organization that hosts events and creates partnerships to help students learn about the legal profession and prepare for law school.

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Harvard University

Annenberg Hall at Harvard University
Annenberg Hall at Harvard University. Jacabolus / Wikimedia Commons

Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is home to one of the nation's very best law schools, and it also wins high marks for placing students in top law schools. According to the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), Harvard tends to be top in the nation for the scores its students earn on the LSAT.

Law is such a popular career path at Harvard, that every one of the university's 12 residential houses has one or more pre-law tutors who are trained to help students maximize their chances of getting into a prestigious law school. Harvard's Office of Career Services also runs several Law School 101 sessions each fall to introduce students to the application process.

Not surprisingly, Harvard is also home to several student organizations focused on the law. These include the Harvard College Black Pre-Law Association, Harvard College Law Review, Harvard Undergraduate Legal Committee, and Small Claims Advisory Service, a group of over 100 volunteers who help Massachusetts citizens navigate the state's small claims system.

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Morehouse College

Graves Hall at Morehouse College
Graves Hall at Morehouse College.

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In an AccessLex Institute ranking of the number of applicants per capita who apply to American Bar Association accredited law schools, Morehouse College ranked first in the country. One of the top historically Black colleges in the country and one of just a few all-male institutions, Morehouse creates a robust pipeline of qualified applicants to JD programs.

Morehouse's pre-law program is run by the Department of Political Science, and students are encouraged to take several courses in preparation for law school: Legal Environment of Business, Critical Thinking, and Advanced Composition. On the student front, Morehouse collaborates with Spelman college through the Morehouse-Spelman Prelaw Society, a group that facilitates events and networking opportunities for future lawyers.

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Spelman College

Spelman College
Spelman College.

Broadmoor / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Sitting next to Morehouse College is Spelman College, a historically Black women's college in Atlanta, Georgia. Spelman ranks among the best historically Black colleges in the country, the top women's colleges, and it is also recognized as a leader for fostering social mobility. The success of Spelman graduates in legal professions is one significant reason for that accolade.

Along with Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University, Spelman has a 3+3 admissions agreement with Syracuse University College of Law that allows students to complete their law degree a year early.

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UC Berkeley

The University of California Berkeley
The University of California Berkeley. Charlie Nguyen / Flickr

The University of California at Berkeley, one of the nation's top public universities, sends more students to top law schools than Harvard University. Berkeley's Career Center provides a wealth of resources for students planning to attend law school, and they host an annual Law School Fair each fall.

Students can gain experience and skills to strengthen their law school applications through undergraduate research opportunities, the UC Berkeley Public Service Center, the UCDC Program, and Art of Writing, a selection of small seminars designed to improve non fiction writing skills.

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University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
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UCLA typically ranks #1 in the country for its sheer number of law school applicants—over 600 of them each year. The university's Career Center runs Law JumpStart annually. Through this program, students learn about the application process and legal profession from panels of law school admissions folks and professionals working in legal careers. Another program, Get JD, runs a series of workshops to help students plan for law school, research law schools, and write a personal statement.

Another resource available to UCLA students is the Pre-Law Society, an organization that arranges guest speakers, runs the Annual Law Forum, and runs numerous events to help students understand the admissions process. The UCLA Pre-Law Transfer Society provides further support for students from underrepresented communities and non-traditional backgrounds. Activities include information sessions from law school admissions staff, panels with legal professionals, in networking opportunities, and LSAT preparation events.

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University of Chicago

Quad, University of Chicago
Bruce Leighty / Getty Images

The University of Chicago is one of the most selective universities in the country, and it is also a powerhouse when it comes to preparing students for law school. Roughly ten percent of all undergraduates apply to law school. Some students stay at UChicago thanks to the Law Scholars Program that gives students an early decision on admissions decisions, as well as the possibility of receiving significant merit scholarships.

UChicago pre-law students have numerous experiential learning opportunities, including job shadowing with alumni in legal careers and treks to large law firms, public defenders offices, government offices, and nonprofits. The university also hosts career exploration panels in which students can learn about different areas of law from practicing attorneys. Finally, the Jeff Metcalf Internship Program allows students to work with lawyers, and the university has grants available to support students who wish to conduct an unpaid internship.

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University of Florida

Auditorium and Century Tower at the University of Florida
irinka-s / Getty Images

Well over 500 University of Florida students apply to law school each year. The campus in Gainesville is home to three honor societies for pre-law students: Criminology & Law Honor Society, Pre-Legal Honor Society, and Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity. Like most schools, the university does not have a pre-law major, but it does have robust pre-law advising as well as tracks within majors that have a legal emphasis. For example, students in the Heavener School of Business can earn a Bachelor's in Business Administration with a Pre-Law area of specialization, and students working towards a Bachelor's in Forest Resources and Conservation can select an Environmental Pre-Law specialization.

At the UF Academic Advising Center, students will find at wealth of pre-law resources including specialized advising services and assistance finding relevant internships, community service, and study abroad opportunities. The center also runs workshops to introduce students to the law school admissions process and help them with their personal statements.

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University of Texas at Austin

University of Texas at Austin
University of Texas at Austin. Amy Jacobson

The University of Texas at Austin ranks second in the country for the number of students who apply to law school. UT Austin is one of the nation’s top public universities, and the school’s Liberal Arts Career Services (LACS) offers plenty of support and guidance for students interested in law school. Students can make an appointment with a law school admissions coach to discuss any piece of the law school preparation and application process. Pre-law students learn about relevant workshops and internship opportunities through the university’s pre-law listerv. LACS also organizes a range of pre-law information sessions, workshops, and panels.

Student life at UT Austin provides plenty of ways for aspiring lawyers to get involved. The university is home to the Texas Undergraduate Law Review as well as organizations such as Minority Women Pursuing Law and Phi Alpha Delta, the co-ed pre-law fraternity.

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Grove, Allen. "12 Best Pre-Law Schools for Future Lawyers." ThoughtCo, Feb. 17, 2021, thoughtco.com/best-pre-law-schools-5080090. Grove, Allen. (2021, February 17). 12 Best Pre-Law Schools for Future Lawyers. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/best-pre-law-schools-5080090 Grove, Allen. "12 Best Pre-Law Schools for Future Lawyers." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/best-pre-law-schools-5080090 (accessed June 6, 2023).