Pre-law Studies in Political Science at UIC

There is no "Pre-law" major at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and that is probably a good thing. The American Association of Law Schools recommends against taking such a major. The best preparation for legal education, according to AALS, is a broad liberal arts education, rather than a narrowly-focused law program. Law schools prefer that you leave the law training to them--after all, that's their job--and instead use your undergraduate years to build a foundation for studying law. That means learning about politics, economics, culture, science, and other things that law schools don't teach but want you to know, so that when you become an attorney you will understand the issues that come up in your cases.

Although you can major in whatever you like and apply to law school, Political Science is a good choice for pre-law students. About one-third of our majors intend to apply to law school, and there are several reasons for this:
  • Political Science gives you special understanding of politics, government institutions, the economy, and culture, all of which is good preparation for law study and being a lawyer.
  • People who are interested in law are usually also interested in politics and government.
  • The Political Science department offers pre-law advising for Political Science majors and minors only. The Political Science pre-law adviser is Dr. Evan McKenzie, a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles Law School who spent ten years practicing law in California, is a licensed attorney in Illinois, and is also an adjunct faculty member at The John Marshall Law School. He has LSAT application books, which are full of useful information, and will spend time with you acquainting you with the process and helping you decide where to apply.
  • The Political Science curriculum includes law courses that interest pre-law students and help them decide whether or not they like the study of law. These courses involve reading opinions of the United States Supreme Court, learning the basics of legal analysis, and developing an understanding of the politics of American and international law. They include:
    • POLS 353: Constitutional Law
    • POLS 354: Civil Liberties
    • POLS 355: Courts, Color, and the Constitution
    • POLS 356: Civil Liberties II--Privacy, Women, and the Law
    • POLS 258: The Judicial Process
    • POLS 287: International Law
  • Political Science as a discipline has close links to the study and practice of law. Political scientists study courts as political institutions and also analyze legal doctrines in the context of history, politics, economics, and other aspects of social science theory.