Experiential learning opportunities, enhanced mentoring, and professional skills development – key features of the McDaniel Commitment – combined with the flexibility of the McDaniel Plan curriculum make McDaniel an ideal place to pursue pre-law.
McDaniel has a strong history of success in preparing students for legal careers. In recent years, McDaniel students have been admitted to elite law schools across the county, including Boston College, Cornell, Emory, Notre Dame, William & Mary and many others. McDaniel students have done particularly well gaining admission to the many excellent law schools in nearby D.C., including American University, Georgetown, George Mason and George Washington. Overall, 87% of McDaniel students who apply to law school are accepted.
McDaniel College is committed to helping you pursue a legal career in three key ways: deciding if law school is the right choice for you, getting into law school and gaining the skills to succeed in law school.
McDaniel offers academic and real-world exposure to legal fields. McDaniel is uniquely located near seats of local, state and national government. You will have the opportunity not only to study lawmaking and litigation in the classroom, but also to observe the law in action at Maryland’s 5th Circuit Court in Westminster, the Maryland General Assembly in Annapolis, the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., and more. Moreover, McDaniel’s 150-year history has built a large network of alumni and associates, including sitting judges and civil rights lawyers, who frequently offer lectures, events and classes at the college. In 2016, the campus hosted talks by then NAACP President and Civil Rights Attorney Cornell William Brooks on the Black Lives Matter movement and by Maryland Appeals Court Judge Lynne Battaglia on gender, sexuality and the law. In 2017, lectures were presented by celebrated civil rights attorneys Victor McTeer (McDaniel class of ’69) and James Bell, as well as Judge Mary Ellen Barbera, the first female Chief Judge of Maryland’s highest court.
We support you in building your academic record, preparing for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and assembling your application materials to get you accepted to law school. Law school admissions are primarily concerned with applicants’ LSAT scores, GPA and letters of recommendation. At McDaniel, pre-law students do not take a fixed curriculum and can pursue their academic interests and strengths, allowing them to maximize their GPA. To aid LSAT preparation, McDaniel provides advising, workshops and practice testing to help students maximize their LSAT scores. McDaniel’s small liberal arts environment prioritizes close relationships between faculty and students, meaning our professors are able to write highly effective, personalized letters. Finally, our pre-law advisors provide individual counseling and group workshops on the application process, and are happy to assist students in selecting prospective law schools and to provide feedback on personal statements and other application essays.
We ensure that you leave McDaniel with the academic skills needed to succeed in law school. Law schools consistently report that the best preparation for law school is a broad liberal arts education that focuses on developing skills in critical thinking, logical reasoning, verbal and oral communication, as well as exposure to the politics, history and the values that underlie American legal institutions. The McDaniel Plan ensures students this exposure, and the Pre-Law program provides an additional list of recommended courses that will expose students to legal writing and research, debating, court opinions, international law and other legal topics.
McDaniel’s Pre-law program is run by its two Pre-Law Advisors who provide personalized counseling at each step of the pre-law process, from planning LSAT preparation to reviewing application essays. Dr. Kathryn Dobson teaches Legal Writing in the English Department and has worked as a consultant for D.C. area law firms. Dr. Matthew Mongiello teaches Constitutional Law in the Political Science and International Studies Department. He is a member of the Northeast Association of Pre-Law Advisors.
McDaniel’s Center for Experience and Opportunity (CEO) offers a wide array of services, including panels with legal professionals, networking events, internship matching, job shadowing, visits to area law schools, scholarship information, mock interviews and more. As part of the McDaniel Commitment, the CEO guarantees students will be provided with experiential learning opportunities that can help prepare students for law school.
The Pre-Law program offers workshops on LSAT preparation and the Law School Application process. The program also coordinates a practice-LSAT test to help students improve their test-taking comfort and efficiency. In addition, McDaniel serves as an official test site for the LSAT 6 times a year, which helps our students perform their best on test days.
McDaniel’s Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Society allows students interested in legal careers to network, stay up to date on law-related events and organize group study.
The Financial Aid Office offers students exit counselling to help them understand what professional school means for their undergraduate financial aid.
McDaniel College does not mandate a specific curriculum for Pre-Law students; you can major in any subject. This is by design. The American Bar Association (ABA) has noted that in the United States, “there is no single path that will prepare you for a legal education.” In fact, law school admissions staff and faculty generally discourage colleges from offering “Pre-Law” as a defined major. Instead, there are certain “core skills, values, knowledge, and experience[s]” that will enable you to succeed in law school and beyond. These include “problem-solving, critical reading, writing and editing, oral communication and listening, research, organization and management, public service and promotion of justice, relationship-building and collaboration, and exposure to the law.”
We have compiled a list of courses that may be of interest as you prepare yourself for law school. Your professors have recommended these courses either to help you gain insight into the legal system and/or to cultivate skills relevant to the study and practice of law. Courses with an “*” are especially recommended. Although this list provides a good starting point, it is by no means exhaustive. While majors like Political Science and History are popular among pre-law students, law schools are just as willing to accept majors from Music to Chemistry. If you are interested in a specific type of law, courses in a particular major might be recommended. For example, an Environmental Studies major will help prepare you for Environmental Law, while science majors can help prepare you for Biotech Patent Law. Finally, keep in mind that taking multiple courses with the same professor can make it easier to obtain a strong recommendation.
Courses Providing Exposure to Legal Issues, Analysis and Writing
*ENG 3308: Writing in Law and Policy
*PSI 3308: American Constitutional Law
*PSI 3319: American Civil Liberties
BUA 2205: The Legal Environment of Business
REL 2219: Religion and American Law
PSI 2203: International Law and Organization
PHI 2205 - Law, Morality and the Cinema
PHI 2226: Philosophy of Law
SOC 3348: Legal Forensics
SOC 3225: Criminal Deviance
Courses Building Critical Thinking, Logical Reasoning, Communication and Research Skills (Writing intensive English courses, Research/analysis/logic intensive social science course and logic/analysis intensive philosophy courses are generally recommended)
*PHI 1102: Critical Thinking
*PHI 2233: Elementary Logic
*ENG 2212: Professional Communication
*COM 2205: Public Speaking
ENG 3309: Approaches to Everyday Discourse
ENG 3312: Writing for Nonprofit Organizations
COM 1102: Introduction to Communication: Interpersonal
COM 2202/2204: Qualitative Procedures
THE 1113: Acting
PSI 2207: American Public Policy
ENV 2215: Environmental Policy
Courses Covering the Background Values and Institutions of the U.S. Legal System
(U.S. History courses, American Politics courses and Philosophy/Political Theory courses are generally recommended)
*HIS 1109: Survey of Modern U.S. History, 1865-2000
*PSI 2201: American Political Institutions
*PSI 2206: American Political Thought
*ECO 1103: Introduction to Economics
*PHI 1101: Introduction to Philosophy
PHI 1105: Contemporary Issues In Ethics
PSI 2202: State and Local Government
PSI 2208: Inventors of Political Ideas
ECO 1101: Introduction to Political Economy
ECO 1102: Economic Issues and Policy
SOC 2205: Criminology
SOC 2427: Gender and Society
PHI 2211: Issues of Social Justice
Internships: The CEO can help match students in local internships with lawyers and law firms. Students should also consider summer internships at firms and nonprofits (for example, ACLU internships).
Job Shadowing: The CEO may also be able to set you up with job shadowing opportunities, where you can see legal professions in action.
Political Experiences: The Political Science & International Studies Department manages a range of political activities including internships in the Maryland General Assembly, Model UN, Model EU and Model Arab League.
Conferences: Consider attending, or presenting at, a legal conference. Many occur in the D.C. area and at local law schools.
Visit a Court: Court proceedings in Carrol County, Annapolis and even the U.S. Supreme Court in D.C. are open to visitors. McDaniel organizes occasional trips, but it is easy to attend on your own.
Fortunately, much of what you need to do to prepare for law school is built into the McDaniel Plan and the McDaniel Commitment. The following guidelines offer some additional information to keep on track. For more detail on the Law School Application Process see the NAPLA Pre-Law Guide.
Remember, many law school applicants don’t apply immediately out of college so it is never too late to take advantage McDaniel’s Pre-Law services. However, if you want to enter law school directly after graduating from college you should begin preparing in your junior year. LSATs should be taken the summer before senior year or in early fall of senior year. Applications should ideally be submitted by November-January of your senior year (though applications may be submitted well into the spring).
- Come meet the Pre-Law advisors!
- Attend the Pre-Law Introductory Workshop (consider also attending the LSAT Study Workshop and the Law School Application Workshop).
- Attend a Pre-Law Panel to find out more about legal careers.
- Sign up for Phi Alpha Delta, the Pre-Law Society, to meet other students interested in law school and keep up to date on events and opportunities.
- Join student organizations (don’t forget opportunities like Model UN, Model EU and Model Arab League).
- Focus on your grades & commit to your coursework (GPA matters).
- Explore your interest in law during you’re “Your Design” Jan Term.
- Goals: Discover your academic interests and chose a major that helps you excel. Explore the legal profession as a potential career option
- Check in with the Pre-law advisors!
- Attend the LSAT Study Workshop and the Law School Application Workshop.
- Begin identifying professors who might be good references. Build a relationship with professors by taking multiple classes with them, visiting during office hours, attending events or joining organizations.
- Try one or more classes on the Pre-Law course list.
- Consider an internship related to your legal interests (talk to the CEO about internship opportunities) as part of the “Your Experience. “component of the McDaniel Commitment.
- Consider a leadership role in your favorite student organization (or more than one, but remember not to over-extend yourself at the expense of your school work).
- Practice LSAT questions and logic games.
- Goals: Settle on a major and begin exploring law-related classes. Keep focusing on GPA and extracurricular activities. Start to decide if law school is a good fit for you.
- Meet with Pre-Law advisors to talk about the LSAT and application process.
- Consider an internship related to your legal interests (talk to the CEO about internship opportunities) as part of “Your Experience” component of the McDaniel Commitment.
- Hone your practical skills in “Your Career” and by taking more courses from the pre-law course list.
- Attend the LSAT Study Workshop and the Law School Application Workshop (it’s not a bad idea to attend each workshop more than once).
- Make an LSAT study plan and get to work! It is important that you take and score a practice LSAT test early on in your test prep to understand your strengths and the areas you need to improve.
- Take McDaniel’s Mock LSAT.
- Register for LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service (transcripts and recommendation letters).
- Register early to take the LSAT in June before senior year (only if prepared); otherwise, September of senior year. IMPORTANT: The best times to take the LSAT are the summer between years 3 & 4 or the beginning of your 4th year.
- Research law schools, begin putting together a list of safety, fit and reach schools. Talk to your Pre-Law advisor and look at the BC Law School Locator
- Approach potential references about writing letters for you. You don’t need to get the letters this year, but your recommenders should be lined up by early fall of your senior year.
- Goals: Decide if you are applying for law school. Begin serious study for the LSAT. Consider where you might want to go to law school.
- Meet with Pre-law advisors regularly for help with your applications.
- Have transcript(s) and letters of recommendation sent to LSAC as early as possible. You can consider sending your fall semester grades as a supplement.
- Visit law schools if possible (i.e. individual visit, open house program or McDaniel Pre-Law group visit to area schools).
- Take LSAT in September/October (or potentially take/re-take in December).
- Apply to law schools! (Consider using the LSAC search tool with your LSAT score & GPA to help identify a balance of safety, fit and reach schools —The NAPLA/BC Law School Locator). Application deadlines vary by school, with many law schools accepting applications well into the spring. However, financial aid packages are most generous for fall applicants (November-December), and many schools run out of aid money around February. Try to finish applications before spring semester.
- Research financial aid; complete FAFSA in January.
- After you are accepted to one or more schools, you need to choose where to enroll (and potentially negotiate aid). Law schools usually require a seat deposit to be made in April.
- Goals: Take the LSAT. Submit your applications. Enroll in law school. Graduate from McDaniel