Rutgers-Camden political science majors have successfully followed a number of different career paths. These options include: law degrees, graduate study in political science; professional degrees in public administration and public policy; government service; work for political organizations or legislators at the local, state, and national levels; and teaching.
Undoubtedly, the largest single group of our students are pre-law. Although there is no requirement that law applicants major in a particular field of study, historically political science attracts a huge proportion of students who intend to pursue their juris doctor degree. At Rutgers-Camden, Dr. G. Alan Tarr of the Political Science Department is the campus pre-law advisor and teaches most of our law-related courses.
Thinking of Law School?
In recent years, the number of lawyers in the United States has increased dramatically. In 1990, for example, American law schools had enrollments of almost 130,000 students and graduated over 35,000. The rapid increase in lawyers, together with shifts in the American economy, have made it difficult for some law school graduates to find jobs as lawyers. For those students committed to a career in law, let me offer some advice:
Differences among law schools:
Law schools differ little in their curricula. Some law schools – Harvard, Yale, Michigan, Stanford – are nationally recognized as the elite of legal education. They draw exceptional students from across the nation and place their graduates in jobs across the nation. A second tier of law schools – among then, New York University, George Washington, and Northwestern – likewise draws and places students nationally. A third group of law schools – Rutgers, Temple, and Villanova are local examples – can be classified as regional law schools. They for the most part attract students from the region and place them in that region. (Thus, if you are attending a regional law school, you should choose one in the area in which you hope to practice.) A final group of law schools – Widener is a local example – might be labelled weaker regional law schools. These tend to be the least selective law schools in terms of admissions.
Although one can obtain a good education at most law schools, the quality of the school you attend, together with the quality of your performance there, will affect the initial job you get. A selection of law school catalogues is available in the political science office.
Political science has long been a standard major for prelaw students. However, law schools do not require that students major in a particular discipline or take specific courses; rather, they are interested in your ability to analyze, to write, and to present your thoughts orally. In choosing your undergraduate courses, you should select courses that enable you to strengthen your skills in these areas.
How to get in:
The two most important factors in admissions decisions are your score on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) and your undergraduate GPA, usually in that order. Letters of recommendation from professors, extracurricular activities that show unusual commitment or leadership, and personal factors also play a role in admissions. For admission to Rutgers Law School (Camden), one ordinarily needs an LSAT score that ranks you in the top 1/3 of all those taking the LSAT and a grade point over 3.2.
The LSAT is designed to measure your ability to succeed in law school, as well as to provide law schools with a basis for comparing applicants from different undergraduate institutions. The test is offered four times annually. You should plan to take the LSAT either in the Spring of your junior year or in the Summer or early Fall of your senior year. If an applicant takes the exam more than once, law schools tend to average the scores, so one should be prepared and take the test only once.
For further information on law school or the LSAT application forms, contact Professor Alan Tarr.