“The life of the law has not been logic: it has been experience.”
-Justice Oliver W. Holmes
How does one begin to prepare for a life in law? Preparing as an undergraduate can mean different things for different students. There is no required major, or course of study, that will best prepare you for success in law school or as a practicing attorney. But a judicious approach to the study of law now can provide experiences and build skills that are valued both in law students and attorneys: clear and persuasive communication, both in writing and in oral argument; strong analytical reading and writing skills; pragmatic and purposeful problem-solving; coalition building and leadership.
The information provided via links above can be a prudent starting point for thoughtful law school preparation. Indeed, taking the time to click on each of these links (and the links embedded therein) will answer the majority of your general questions about preparing for law school as an undergraduate student! However, these are only starting points, guideposts and suggestions, *not* a required curriculum. Law Schools prefer to admit and teach students who bring with them integrity, maturity and a truly interdisciplinary skill set. As such, it is imperative that you understand, the majority of the application process depends on YOU. YOU should major in a subject you love to read, write and talk about; take courses that best suit you, your skills and your goals. YOU are in charge of creating experiences in and out of the classroom that will prepare you for a life in law; and of course, you are responsible for achieving your best GPA and doing well on Law School entrance exams such as the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) or GRE.
The links above and to the right are intended to provide helpful information to consider when exploring a legal career and applying to Law School. It is also strongly recommended that after you have taken the time to explore the resources provided on this website, you make an appointment with Vanderbilt’s pre-law advisor, Professor Carrie Russell, JD, PhD (via Calendly) for individually tailored assistance.
To stay up to date on pre-law programming, internship opportunities and other helpful announcements, please sign up for the Pre-Law listserv and join the Vanderbilt Pre-Law LinkedIn Group to receive the most up-to-date information about Vanderbilt's pre-law program and connect with alumni.
To subscribe to the list-serv, send an email from your vanderbilt.edu address with PRELAW in subject line to email@example.com
You can also join the Vanderbilt Pre-Law LinkedIn group (exclusive to current Vanderbilt undergraduate students and recent graduates/current law students and young associates) by clicking here.
Meet the Pre-Law Advising Team
Dr. Carrie Archie Russell, JD, PhD, Director of Pre-Law Advising
Carrie Russell earned her bachelor’s degree from Rhodes College in Memphis, her law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law and her PhD from Vanderbilt University. She has served Vanderbilt in the roles of Program Director for the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, Pre-major Academic Adviser for the College of Arts and Science and as the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Political Science. Carrie currently serves as a Vanderbilt Visions leader, Faculty Adviser to mulitple student organizations, Faculty member in the Department of Political Science, and Assistant Dean in the Office of Undergraduate Education for the College of Arts and Science. Before earning her PhD from Vanderbilt, Carrie worked as a Judicial Clerk for Davidson County Tennessee’s Twentieth Judicial District