Prelaw Handbook for Underclassmen/women

We often get questions about “Pre-Law” at Duke. Our response depends on the thrust of the question. If the question refers to a pre-law “program” then there is no such thing at Duke. If the question is about process, then that is a different matter. For being “Pre-law” at Duke means being involved in a process of self –discovery, defining life goals, determining life style, and developing a strategy for realizing these goals.

Included in the process is gaining knowledge of what law school and the practice of law are really like. This involves some demythologizing –many of our impressions of what lawyers are and do were formed by Perry Mason, LA Law, Law and Order, and The Practice. Through exploration and through programs offered at Duke, a more realistic vision of who and what lawyers actually are can be gained. For example, oratorical skills are great if a person wants to be a litigator but research, negotiating, and mediation skills are far more important for most lawyers.

It is our hope that the contents of this handbook will get you started on this process of self- discovery and gaining knowledge of what the legal profession is all about.

In addition to this booklet there are two further opportunities to aid you in this process. First, the The Office of Pre-Law Advising sponsors programs and distributes information to all students considering careers in law. Underclassmen who have specific questions that are not covered by this booklet or by other resources may meet with the Pre-Law Advisor during walk- in hours posted early in the semester. The second opportunity to learn about law school and the law is provided by Bench and Bar.

Bench and Bar

Bench and Bar is the undergraduate society at Duke for those considering law as a profession. Membership is open to all students, and underclassmen are especially encouraged to join. The society sponsors a variety of programs throughout the year involving law school admission officers, law school faculty and practicing lawyers. Topics like “Applying to Law School,”) “Mock Admission Panels” and “The Practice of Law” are featured at these meetings.

Specific information about membership and program is available through the The Office of Pre-Law Advising, 04 Allen Building, 919-684-2865, or the Bench and Bar web-site.

Special words of thanks should go to the non-Duke contributors to this handbook who gave us permission to use their articles originally published elsewhere and to Terry Wilkerson, Assistant in the The Office of Prelaw Advising for their work, patience and helpfulness in preparing this project.

Prelaw Handbook for Underclassmen/women

Click on the links below to read the table of contents for each section. Then click on individual titles to read full text.

Considering Law School

Section Title Summary
Is Law School for You? Discussion of who might be well suited to the field of practicing law.
Why Do You Want to Go to Law School? Two discussions of reasons why someone may want to attend law school.
Would You Be Happy as a Lawyer? Discussion of who might be well suited for a job in the legal profession.
Law School: What is it? How does it differ from undergraduate education? Explanation about how the education process in law school is different than what students experience as undergraduates.
Frequently Asked Questions Basic information for first-year students, sophomores and junior Pre-law students.
Types of Employment: Academic Positions Discussion of academic positions for law professionals, such as teacher, administrator, university counsel or law librarian.
Types of Employment: Business Positions Discussion of several types of business employment for legal professionals, such as corporate counsel, accounting firms and banking, legal publishing and consulting.
Types of Employment: Educational Opportunities Brief discussion of educational opportunities for students who have completed a law degree program.
Types of Employment: Government Positions Discussion of government positions available for legal professionals, including jobs on Capitol Hill, the military, state and local agencies, and prosecuting attorney positions.
Types of Employment: Judicial Clerkships Explanation of judicial clerkships for state and federal courts.
Types of Employment: Non-Traditional Careers Discussion of non-traditional career options for individuals with a law degree, including the fields of labor relations, affirmative action, banking and insurance, real estate, lobbying, mediation and arbitration, government contracts, law enforcement and government relations.
Types of Employment: Private Practice Explanation of typical private practice positions for law professionals.
Types of Employment: Public Interest Opportunities Discussion of job opportunities in the public interest for individuals with law degrees.



Applying to Law School

Section Title Summary
Faculty Recommendations: Getting to Know Them You will need faculty recommendations for your law school application. Learn how to go about earning those recommendations.
Myths about Law School Admissions Explore common myths about law school admissions, and arm yourself with correct information.
Prelaw Workshops Learn about upcoming workshops regarding the application process and financial aid.
Selecting a Law School Suggested process for identifying law schools that might be a good fit for you.
Suggested Reading Lists from Law Schools Many law schools provide lists of recommended readings. These books are not "required reading" in any sense, but can give you a good look at the legal process, the history of law, and some of the people who have made significant contributions to the legal world.



Preparing for Law School

Section Title Summary
Pre-legal Education Discussion of how students should approach their undergraduate education to prepare themselves for law school.
The First Year Personal article that summarizes the typical experience of a first-year law student.