Career Center


Career Center
315-859-4332 (fax)

Graduate School

Pre-Law Advising at Hamilton College

The Career Center’s Guide to Law School Planning

First and Second year Students

As a first-year or sophomore, you should:

Engage in self-assessment and career exploration to make certain the law suits your personality and interests. Use self-assessment instruments at the Career Center, such as FOCUS, Self Directed Search (SDS)and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), which are helpful for finding out if your skills are suited to a career in law.

Explore careers in law online or by reading books:
  • Check out online sites such as vault.com and “Facts on File” through the Career Center’s website.
  • Read evaluative books such as Should You Really be a Lawyer? The Guide to Smart Career Choices and Before, During, and After Law School by Deborah Schneider and Gary Belsky, which can be borrowed from the Career Center.

Explore subjects law students and lawyers read:

Conduct informational interviews with several attorneys.

It is essential to begin informational interviews long before you sign up for the LSAT or start looking at law school applications in order to know if a career in the law is right for you.

  • Research different areas of law you find interesting and contact alumni who work in those fields (Refer to the Networking Guide).
  • Counselors at the Career Center can explain how you can get started meeting with alumni in positions that appeal to you.
  • Write exploratory letters to alumni attorneys and follow up with informational interviews in person or on the phone.
  • Be sure to send thank-you letters to anyone you speak with.

Speak with current law students

After you have spoken to attorneys and have decided you would like to pursue a career in law, speak with current law students about their experiences, spend time at law schools, and attend law classes.

Get hands-on experience

Over winter breaks and summers secure career-related experiences so that you can get a feel for the law and gain relevant experience to build your resume for law school or jobs after graduation.

  • Shadow an attorney in an area of law that interests you.
  • Volunteer for an attorney, firm, or government office.
  • Intern over winter and summer breaks to see the day-to-day operations within the law.

Start preparing for the LSAT NOW!
  • A recent study by LSAC reports that students must spend at least 200+ hours preparing for the LSATin order to do their best. By starting in your first or second year, you will become accustomed to the types of questions that are on the test (logic games, logical reasoning, and reading comprehension).
  • Attend free KAPLAN 10 question challenges, test-drives, and workshops that are offered on campus. These will help train your brain to work like it needs to for the test since the LSAT measures skills that most Hamilton students are not accustomed to using.
  • Buy an LSAT prep book and practice different types of questions.

Develop the specific skills necessary to succeed in law school and become a good lawyer:
  • Analytical and problem-solving: Take classes that involve critical thinking about important issues and evaluating arguments. Consider Philosophy 200 Critical Reasoning or math courses.
  • Critical reading: Develop reading and critical analysis skills. As a law student, you will be required to read and understand large amounts of information and you will particularly need these skills on the LSAT. History and government courses generally require heavy reading loads.
  • Writing: Lawyers must be able to express themselves well, clearly, and concisely. Plan to take courses that require rigorous and analytical writing. Be able to write both long and short pieces well. Take writing-intensive and English courses; also, use the Writing Center!
  • Oral communication: Learn how to speak clearly, confidently, and persuasively. Try Rhetoric and Communications courses like 210 Rhetorical Act, 212 Argumentation and Advocacy, and 365 Persuasion. Public speaking during class and participation on the Mock Trial team and in Debate Club are good practice.
  • Interpersonal/listening: You will need these skills to be able to interact well with clients and peers. Clubs and sports teams will help develop these skills.
  • General research: Law school classes require extensive research. Take upper-level courses in any departments that include a major research paper. Theses and Senior Projects necessitate in-depth research, analysis, and writing.
  • Organization/time management: Law school and a career as an attorney are demanding, so try to acquire good time management skills early. Balancing a busy schedule of extracurriculars and jobs with school work will provide good practice.
  • Serving the public good and promoting justice: Those who are applying to law school are particularly expected to uphold civic duty and be active in the community. Law schools like to see candidates who are dedicated to fairness and justice in the legal system. Government course 241 Survey of Constitutional Law will give you a feel for the areas that you would be studying in law school to see if you like them or not. Ethics courses in any field will give you a background in the concept of justice.

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