The legal field is incredibly competitive, and knowing early on that you intend to pursue a career as an attorney can give you a critical advantage when it is time to apply for law school. Undergraduate students who would like to be better prepared than their peers sometimes form or participate in "pre-law societies."
These organizations help students make informed decisions about their legal education and career. Whether joining a pre-law society is right for you will depend on your school, the depth of involvement you are looking for, and your personal goals.
What Kinds of Pre-Law Societies and Organizations Are There?
Pre-law societies are typically either specific to your school or part of a national organization.
School-specific organizations tend to have stronger connections with the administration and faculty of the school. Pre-law society members may be intending to study law at the same school where they are completing their undergraduate degree or intend to ultimately work in an area where the school has a strong reputation or extensive alumni network. Examples of school pre-law societies include:
- Stanford Pre-Law Society
- Georgetown Pre-Law Society
- University of Minnesota Pre-Law Society
- Knox College Pre-Law Club
Alternatively, national organizations such as Phi Delta Phi, the national legal honor society, may allow for a broader network and a different set of opportunities or benefits. Phi Alpha Delta, a law fraternity, offers LSAT prep resources for pre-law students. Other organizations may offer a different set of experiences that place greater emphasis on community and socialization.
Why Join a Pre-Law Student Organization?
Membership in a pre-law society has several benefits. Nearly all pre-law societies serve the same core functions, including:
- Improving your understanding of the study and practice of the law
- Organizing networking opportunities with other students and members of the legal profession
- Providing LSAT or law school application assistance
- Giving students a chance to experience legal education before making a full commitment
Organizations seek to meet these goals by a number of different means. A pre-law organization may hold many different kinds of events in the course of a year or only a few, depending on the organization's prestige, the strength of its network, and its funding. They may include events with influential speakers or be more focused on gathering students to study for the LSAT. Your particular needs and interests should direct your involvement. Some common pre-law society activities include:
- Hosting speakers who talk about legal issues
- Conducting LSAT preparation courses
- Holding mock trial competitions
- Touring local law schools
- Organizing mentorship, internship, and community service opportunities
One benefit that participation in nearly any pre-law society provides is the demonstration of your interest in and commitment to the study of the law, which may be helpful during the law school admissions process. They can also connect you to potential mentors experienced in the field of law, who could also provide letters of recommendation when it's time to apply to law school.
Are There Any Reasons Not To Join?
There are very few reasons you might choose not to participate in a pre-law society. Your school's pre-law society might not be the right environment for you personally. You may not be interested in networking locally if you intend to study or practice elsewhere, and you may have other resources for LSAT and law school preparation that better meet your needs. Even where participation in a pre-law society might be seen as an asset, not participation is never seen as a negative in law school admissions.
Can I Form My Own Pre-Law Society?
If your school doesn't currently have a pre-law society, or you don't like the one that's there, you might consider starting your own.
You could accomplish this by speaking with the school administrator in charge of extracurricular activities or by contacting one of the national organizations and applying for the establishment of a chapter at your school. These processes would involve a considerable amount of effort to meet the requirements of the school, or both the school and a national organization, but organizing a pre-law society would also be a considerable accomplishment with its own benefits.
However you decide to proceed, you should continue to seek resources that can help you make important decisions about your law school education. FindLaw for law students provides information so that you can plan your entry into the legal career with confidence.