Girls studying in the SMWC student lounge

Pre-Law Overview

According to the American Bar Association, preparation is the key to success in law school. “The student who comes to law school lacking a broad range of basic skills and knowledge will face a difficult challenge,” the organization said. Pre-law studies at SMWC will prepare you for that challenge. Our degree programs provide the flexibility to lead you to the career of your dreams. With your professional advisors helping you along the way, you can mix and match majors and minors to get the perfect degree tailored to you and your career aspirations. Plus, you’ll graduate with a strong foundation in liberal arts.

The pre-law minor is designed to introduce you to the study of law and the judicial process. It provides an orientation to the law, which is more general than that of most law schools. Our liberal arts curriculum, with its emphasis on critical thinking and effective oral and written communication, will help you hone the skills you will need to perform well on the LSAT, secure admission to law school, and succeed in the legal profession. Upon admission, each student works with a pre-law advisor, who helps the student develop a strategy for selecting courses, identifying an appropriate departmental major (degree program), and navigating the law school application process.


What is pre-law and what can you do with a degree in it?
Pre-law is the course of study that refers to preparing for law school. Most pre-law students at SMWC pursue graduate work. While most continue their education towards the juris doctorate (J.D.) degree at an accredited law school, others have gone on to graduate work in their major discipline. The pre-law training, in conjunction with the traditional academic discipline, prepares SMWC graduates for a wide range of career opportunities.
Students who graduate from law school find employment in a variety of fields:

  • Academia
  • Banks
  • Corporations
  • Government
  • Medical
  • Politics
  • Private practice

In addition, there are many specialty areas within law:

  • Civil rights
  • Criminal
  • Education
  • Labor and employment
  • Environmental and natural resources
  • Family and juvenile
  • Immigration
  • Intellectual property
  • Real estate
  • Tax
  • Sports and entertainment

Can I get into a law school with just a pre-law minor?
Law schools do not require a particular undergraduate major for admission. Instead, law schools recommend that undergraduates take a wide range of courses to sharpen their communication and cognitive skills. Undergraduate students planning on attending law school are advised to select a major that will strengthen their abilities to think analytically, to reach and write well and to deal with human problems in a realistic context.

How else will SMWC help me prepare for a legal career?
While the ABA does not require work experience, it does emphasize service by providing: “If you are thinking of entering the legal profession, you should seek some significant experience, before coming to law school, in which you may devote substantial effort toward assisting others.” SMWC offers a variety of activities and organizations that enable students to participate in service learning, volunteer activities, internships and community service. We also provide opportunities for service projects within individualized classes that help students develop and demonstrate the commitment to public service and justice that ABA emphasizes.

SMWC is well-placed to give pre-law students internships related to the local public and private law offices, banks, and county and state offices. While the ABA does not emphasize work-related experience in its statements on preparing for law school, internships and other opportunities to work with the legal profession can allow students to explore and refine their interest in the law and develop a network that is useful in obtaining clerkships while in law school. As part of the course work, pre-law students have been able to attend a variety of courtroom proceedings to observe firsthand the workings of the judicial process. Our location provides access to Vigo County Courts as well as the Terre Haute Division of the Southern District of Indiana United States District Court. We have three federal prisons in town, as well as multiple state prisons within a short drive from campus.

Can my criminal record hinder my career in pre-law?
Any sort of criminal or disciplinary violation must be explained on a law school application. Minor brushes with the law, such as having many speeding tickets, may need to be explained. Major problems, such as felonies and some misdemeanors, can prevent you from being accepted and/or taking the bar exam, so make sure you stay out of trouble!

What support and resources are provided at SMWC?
The Learning Resource Center (LRC) provides exceptional, personalized learning resource services to encourage student success. The LRC offers help with a range of academic support services, including a writing center, tutoring, college success courses and more.