The legal arena is vast, with many opportunities for individuals to tailor their expertise to a specific area of the law, such as environmental, bankruptcy, contracts, criminal, immigration, healthcare, etc. Attorneys provide legal advice and representation to individuals or entities who require resolution to a particular problem. They may also work for corporations, government agencies, and local, state and federal court systems. A Juris Doctorate and successful completion of the Bar exam is required to practice law in the United States. Many attorneys will also seek additional specialized training in a specific aspect of the law.
The Vault Guides offer a sample of careers in Law. Each guide gives, among other valuable information, an overview of the job and entry-level requirements.
If you are considering pursuing a career in law, schedule an appointment with a career advisor to discuss career paths, program options and how to position yourself as a strong candidate for admission to a law program. To make an appointment, log in to your Handshake account, contact 804-828-1645, or visit us on the first floor of the University Student Commons.
Academic excellence, not a specific curriculum, is the principle prerequisite for the legal profession. Very few law schools list specific undergraduate courses as prerequisites for admission. Therefore, you may major in virtually any department within the university, provided you choose a major in which you can excel. Choosing a major that reflects the student’s passions and natural talents often enhances academic performance.
If you have a specific interest, such as environmental law, you should strongly consider selecting an academic major in that area. Many students interested in law school consider philosophy of law as a minor. This minor program is described under the Department of Philosophy. Undeclared students are welcome to meet with a career advisor to discuss the choice of major, understanding that there is no pre-law major, and thus no “right” or “wrong” choices. Our office also assists interested students with questions about application procedures, the law school admission test (LSAT) and the Law School Admissions Council.
While law schools do not require specific courses, you can gain exposure to legal studies by taking a variety of courses.
Applicants who can convincingly demonstrate that they have challenged their thinking, reasoning and writing skills usually impress admission committees. When choosing courses, focus on developing verbal comprehension and expression, critical understanding of human institutions and values with which the law deals and creative thinking. The Law School Admissions Council has outlined six core skills that are critical to a student’s success in law school.
Courses that provide opportunities to increase these core skills are valuable regardless of subject matter. English, logic, and political science courses fall in this category. Logic courses, in particular, may help prepare you for the Law School Admission Test. Courses that involve reading cases and statutes and understanding citations will give you an idea of what to expect in law school. Finally, any courses that sharpen your analytical skills can also be helpful, including those that provide a basic understanding of business, accounting, finance and statistics.
The philosophy of law minor is comprised of 18 Philosophy credits (three 200-level courses and three 300-level courses) and 6 History or Political Science credits. These 24 credits include: PHIL 222; one course from PHIL 211, PHIL 212, or PHIL 213; a 200-level elective; PHIL 320; PHIL 327; PHIL 335; and two of the following: HIST 369/370, POLI 314, POLI 341/342.
Legal experience is essential for admission to law school. The L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs offers an internship program open to students who are majoring in criminal justice, public administration, political science, or urban studies. Handshake offers a listing of law-related internships.
Location, cost, specialization and difficulty of admission are just some of the many factors to consider when selecting a law program. Carefully research each program prior to submitting your application to ensure that the program aligns with your career aspirations. Use the links below to begin your search.