Dreaming of a career in law? Aspiring to don that lawyer’s robe and engage in the art of advocacy? While there isn’t a predefined roadmap for becoming a lawyer, and no high school curriculum can guarantee success in this field, certain classes can undoubtedly give you a strong foundation and help you develop essential skills for your future legal career. So, if you want to become one of the best personal injury attorneys in New Jersey or a corporate lawyer in NY but wondering what classes to take, we’ve got you covered. Let’s start!
One of the cornerstones of a successful legal career is effective communication. Lawyers need impeccable writing and speaking skills to convey their arguments persuasively. To cultivate these skills, consider enrolling in the highest level of English courses offered at your school, such as IB or AP English.
These courses will enhance your writing and speaking abilities and expose you to extensive reading, a fundamental aspect of legal practice. Strong English skills will also make you a more competitive college applicant, particularly if you choose to major in humanities or the arts.
In the courtroom, lawyers are expected to be eloquent and confident speakers. If your high school offers a Public Speaking or Communications course, take advantage of it. Alternatively, explore extracurricular activities like mock trial, Model United Nations, or a speech and debate club, all of which emphasize public speaking skills.
These experiences will help you gain confidence and poise in expressing your thoughts and arguments—a crucial asset for any aspiring lawyer.
Many high schools offer Government, Law, or Civics courses, often as part of a US history curriculum. These classes provide a foundational understanding of the legal system, the Constitution, and government structure.
Taking such a course can be invaluable for those considering a legal career, as it introduces you to the basics of the legal framework in the United States.
While Latin may seem archaic, it plays a significant role in the legal field. Legal terminology, known as “legalese,” often incorporates Latin phrases. While you don’t need to be fluent in Latin to become a lawyer, having a background in it can be impressive and helpful. Latin can provide insight into the origins of legal terms and concepts, making it easier to understand complex legal language.
AP Statistics is a hidden gem among high school courses. Not only does it enhance your transcript, but it also equips you with essential statistical skills. Understanding statistics is crucial in legal research and analysis, and it can be a valuable asset when conducting undergraduate research projects that can boost your law school application.
If available at your high school, philosophy courses can provide valuable insights into ethical and moral reasoning—crucial aspects of the legal profession. Philosophy can help you understand the broader societal context in which laws operate and the ethical considerations lawyers often grapple with. While not every high school offers philosophy classes, you might find an after-school philosophy club as an alternative.
If your high school lacks certain courses or flexibility in electives, you can still explore your interests outside the classroom. Consider taking classes through summer intensives or online courses to supplement your high school education.
Numerous colleges, such as NYU, UPenn, and Wake Forest, offer pre-college programs catering to law students. These programs can provide a glimpse into the legal field or align with your intended undergraduate major. Organizations like the ACLU and Bar Associations offer summer programs for aspiring high school lawyers. Participating in these intensives can offer a taste of college life and help you solidify your commitment to a legal career.
There’s no single path to becoming a lawyer. The key is to explore your interests while building a strong academic foundation. High-level courses and extracurricular activities that sharpen your communication, critical thinking, and analytical skills will make you an attractive college applicant and prepare you for the challenges and rewards of a legal career.