Serve the Public Good
Are you driven to improve your community? You’re not alone.
The numbers don’t lie when it comes to the amount of people who work in areas of Law + Government. Over 22 million people, or 16.7% of the U.S. workforce, work in federal, state, and local governments, over 1.3 million lawyers practice within the United States, and close to 300,000 individuals work as paralegals or legal assistants.
With so many people working together to build society at its core, opportunities are prime for Gauchos looking to make a difference. Careers in Law + Government share some similarities and a few key differences--learn how you can join the movement of public servants and prepare yourself for a successful future.
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Discover Options: Legal Practice
For complete information on assessing yourself, choosing majors, and exploring careers, review our starter tips to Discover Options in all careers as well as the specialized tips on this page.
Making the decision to become a lawyer involves a significant amount of reasonings and considerations. The book, Should You Really Be a Lawyer, by Deborah Shneider and Gary Belsky, (available at Career Services Resource Room Library) breaks down factors to help you make an informed decision. The authors argue that the best reason to pursue law school is to practice law. UCSB Career Services and Pre-Law Advising agree
To truly understand what practicing law entails, we recommend speaking with current lawyers and gaining experience in law for valuable insight
Here are some common misbeliefs about pursuing law school:
- A law degree will keep career options open.
- The intellectual challenge of law school appeals to me.
- Everyone around me is applying to law school or is getting a graduate degree.
- People around me think I would be a good lawyer.
There are a variety of legal professions that do not require a law degree, such as paralegal, law office management and administration, mediator, legal clerk, and legal researcher. Oftentimes, we are drawn to careers that we are familiar with, however, the more knowledge you gain in other aspects of the legal field, the more confident you will feel when choosing to move forward.
Areas of Law
Exploring different areas of law as an undergraduate student will help you determine whether a law or a legal career is the right fit for you. Although there is no expectation for a student to be certain of which area of law they wish to practice, it can help when determining which law school to attend, as many institutions have specialty areas, such as clerkships, internships, externships, and clinics, that pertain to specific areas.
The Law School Admission Council has details about the various fields of law and provides a quiz to help determine which field(s) may be of greatest interest to you.
Although many law students studied political science as their undergraduate major, there is no prerequisite that you must do so, nor does it make you more competitive for law school.
Since law schools are open to any major, we recommend pursuing one that interests you, because you are more likely to do well academically. Students in the STEM fields are eligible to apply to law school, and may stand out due to their different backgrounds. Because law school is intensive in reading and writing, taking classes that provide practice in those areas, such as Writing 107L (Legal Writing), will prepare you for future courses. In a STEM major where reading and writing may not be as emphasized, adding a minor in the humanities and liberal arts that interests you is a great way to enhance those skills. Additionally, coursework in philosophy has been found to be helpful as preparation for the LSAT.
Meet with UCSB Pre-Law Advising to create a personalized curriculum and strategize skills to obtain outside of the classroom.
If you are considering applying to law school, here are some tips to consider about how grades are standardized during the law school application process:
- Avoid taking classes pass/no-pass, if possible. No-pass classes convert to an “F” and pass classes are not counted.
- Rectify any “Incomplete” grades before applying to law school, as they convert to an “F”.
- Avoid repeating classes unless absolutely necessary because the first grade is not eliminated.
UCSB Pre-Law Resources
UCSB Career Services and UCSB Pre-Law Advising, through the College of Letters and Science, is available to help you with the entire process from deciding whether to be a lawyer to applying for law school.
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