There are many reasons a pre-law summer program is the right choice for a prospective law student. As you know, law school is no joke, and getting your feet wet before the big plunge might make for a healthy transition. Other things to consider include the fact that there are many skills that might need a brush-up, including technical reading, writing, and debate. A pre-law program might help incoming law students prepare for important aspects of law school while they obtain skills to absorb the underpinnings of the law and the tools to be changemakers.
You might be considering a summer pre-law program or doing an internship that is relevant. Some programs bring the two together. There are also a variety of programs out there with specific focal points, some of which target marginalized groups, students with a social justice leaning, and even people of color. Such programs are shoring up the option for like-minded communities to caucus with one another prior to jumping into a more diverse law program. Many of the summer pre-law offerings include lectures on a range of topics, field trips, mentoring opportunities, and a focus on law school survival skills.
Some of the programs listed below are subsidized for college and graduate students who cannot afford to otherwise study at this capacity. Many of them offer residency opportunities for a further immersive experience that is hands-on and all-inclusive. A number of the programs below are geared towards students who are not yet committed to a law program, but are using this as an opportunity to information gather and determine whether or not this is the path for them. Below you will find a range of programs that cover the bases for effective law school preparation for a variety of populations.
1. Penn State Law
Penn State Law School offers an excellent legal education opportunity for undergraduate students who are considering attending law school. One of the perks of this program is that it is entirely free. It is a five day residential pre law program that was designed for information gatherers. Students who participate will come to the Penn State campus in University Park, Pennsylvania to learn about the ins and outs of law school itself. They facilitate discussions about a variety of law school programs that might be the right fit for specific students due to their particular interests and skill sets. Participants will gain information about different fields of law and professions that can be obtained with a law degree including judges, professors, and practicing attorneys. Following completion of this summer program, participants will understand the complex application process for law school and what achieving a law degree entails. This will surely enable them to make an educated choice if law school is the right fit for them.
2. NYU/ Harvard: TRIALS
This summer pre law program is a collaborative partnership between the Law School at New York University, Harvard Law School, and the Advantage Testing Foundation. This program is exceptional because it is geared towards students who come from low income families, and is made accessible by being subsidized. The purpose of this offering is to give underrepresented students a vehicle of law school access. The program is five weeks in length and alternates each year between Harvard and NYUs campuses. Advantage Testing facilitates extensive workshops on deconstructing the LSATs and they go into an approach that includes a step-by-step understanding of the different question types for the law school admission test. The program is committed to exposing participants to communities similar to their own and how they can support them with law experience. Students will also be exposed to a variety of lawmakers, speakers, and prominent legal scholars. Students will have the opportunity to utilize the resources offered by their host institution.
3. St. John’s University School of Law
St. John’s University School of Law has a variety of programs for prospective law school students. One of their most popular offerings is their summer pre-law program Ronald H. Brown Law School Prep Program for College Students. There are actually three offerings within this umbrella including, an all-male Prep Program Foundations and Summer LSAT Bootcamp. Because of the sponsorship from the LSAC Discover Law Program, they are able to deliver this program at no cost. They also have a new co-ed program for college seniors and graduates that is called LSAT Boot Camp. Another offering is a free LSAT program for the law school admission test that is only a weekend long. All of the programs that are listed above are geared towards expanding diversity in the field of law. Though the co-ed program is not subsidized, there are many scholarship opportunities and discount possibilities, so don’t let the price tag scare you away. There are on-campus housing opportunities, though they are limited.
All Male Prep Program Foundations and Summer Boot Camp: Free
Co-ed LSAT Bootcamp: $3,000
Weekend LSAT Prep: Free
4. Drake Law School’s Law Opportunity Leadership Program
Drake Law School’s Law Opportunity Leadership Program is an excellent offering for up to five overachieving first-year law students that come from an underrepresented community. This is specifically geared towards first-year law students. For the entire first year of their law school experience they will have access to extensive mentoring. They will also be able to participate in weekly training sessions geared towards leadership that will take place in the summer following their first year of law school. Following the intensive training, each student will have access to two fully paid internships with a law firm and a different company of relevance, both of which will be located in Des Moines. Drake will make an effort to effectively match students with sites that meet their interests and career goals. The application deadline is April 1, 2020, and there is a required Diversity Statement that will be heavily weighted.
5. University of Akron School of Law
The University of Akron School of Law offers a comprehensive pre-law summer program called PLUS. This is geared towards undergraduate students in their freshman and sophomore years who are interested in possibly pursuing law school after graduation. Applicants must have already completed 24 credit hours of undergraduate coursework before participating in the program. The program was designed to bring together a racially diverse group of pre-law students, many of which are underrepresented in the field of law. It is four weeks in length with residential requirements. Meals and housing are provided in this full-force program that includes weekends and evenings. If the student successfully completes the program they will be awarded with a stipend of $1,000. Tuition for the entire opportunity is free with the possibility of travel assistance if the student applies for the additional support. Accommodations will be in the dorms that are just a short walk away from the law school.
6. Pace University’s Elisabeth Haub School of Law
Pace University’s Elisabeth Haub School of Law offers a three week PACE Pre-Law certificate program (PPCP). The entire intensive includes over 60 hours of programming. Also included are: class trips to court rooms and law offices, lectures in class, tips on applying for law school, and even auditing opportunities for law school classes. An example of the course offerings include: US Legal Systems, LSAT Prep, Legal Writing, law school admission test, and current topics like Immigration Law. The program is designed for undergraduate students in their sophomore and junior years, students enrolled in law schools internationally, lawyers that are foreign trained and interested in learning about practicing law in the US, paralegals who are considering law school, and others interested in applying to law schools. Participants will work and board just a few blocks from all of the major courthouses that New York City has to offer.
- Tuition Only: $3,250
- Tuition and NYC Housing: $4,600
7. Illinois Institute of Technology/ IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law
The Chicago-Kent College of Law through the Illinois Institute of Technology offers a program called PLUS, Pre-Law Undergraduate Scholars Program. The goal of the program is to train prospective law students who are from underrepresented groups on the important skills necessary to be successful law students and ultimately lawyers. This program is three weeks in length and will give students a foundation of the ins and outs of legal education, impart participants with the skills to effectively apply to law schools, and share with students the variety of professions that can be achieved with a law degree. The program is competitive to get in, but free of charge. Those who participate also receive a stipend to participate, as they will not be able to work or participate in any other commitments while enrolled in the program. It is expressly designed for students who have not yet received their bachelor’s degree, and preference will be given to those who are in their freshman and sophomore years of undergrad.
8. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF)
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) offers what is called the ADF Law School Prep Academy. This program is designed specifically for students who are preparing to start law school in the fall. The program is two and a half days long with the mission of preparing a new generation of legal leaders. The course of the program includes diving into topics such as substantive instruction, worldview foundations, and professional development strategies. This is a Christian program, and therefore they aim to connect prospective lawyers with their Christian peers from around the country. Participants will receive skills on legal brief reading, legal writing, career strategy, exam preparation and an understanding of the Blackstone Legal Fellowship. Students will also learn how to increase and bring forward their core belief systems and apply them to their legal practice. The program is held each year in Washington DC.
Cost: Most costs are underwritten by the institution
9. Duke D.C. Summer Institute
Duke D.C. Summer Institute was started in 2013 to engage undergraduate students who are considering the pursuit of a law degree. It is a two week program that makes an excellent addition to D.C. or Capitol Hill internships or summer positions. Much of the coursework designed for this program includes gaining a foundation statutory, constitutional, and regulatory frameworks for which public policy is engaged and implemented. Participants will have the opportunity to work closely with Duke’s expert law faculty. The program is structured in two two week sessions where there are specific classes offered. The classes are delivered Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings with Wednesday evenings designated for special programs. The program is designed for students who are already committed to working in D.C. based programs for the summer, so housing is not included. The criteria for application is that participants must have completed their first year of undergrad.
Cost: $600 per class and $400 for each additional Class.
10. Saint Louis University School of Law
The Saint Louis University School of Law offers a pre law summer opportunity called the Law Scholars Program. This opportunity was designed by the Office of Pre-Law and Pre-Health Studies for incoming freshmen who have the express goal of attending the SLU Law School. The students will be given an understanding of the legal field as they embark on their undergraduate experience. They will have access to a variety of activities that focus on law along with some general education classes. Participants will take part in four courses that are integrated into the program, all of which add up to 12 credit hours. The classes are taught by law professors and scholars, and students will have the chance to experience courtroom settings. Law scholars who successfully finish the program will be granted automatic admission to the Saint Louis University School of Law. Applicants must submit their SAT scores as well as their academic transcripts to qualify for the program.
Cost: Incorporated into tuition
11. University of Houston Law Center (UHLC) Pre-Law Pipeline Program
The University of Houston Law Center offers an award-winning program: UHLC Pre-Law Pipeline Program. They received the American Bar Association Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Award for Excellence in Pipeline Diversity. They were granted this honor as a result of their attention to advancing possibilities for underrepresented populations in the field of law. The goal of the program is literally to do just that, bring more diversity to the field of law. They do this by bringing together students from underrepresented groups to offer extensive LSAT preparation, introductory law school coursework, professional development offerings, and internships. They specifically are looking to offer this program to first-generation students, low-income, and members of underrepresented groups. This residential program is offered during the summer before the third and fourth years of college.
Cost: It varies, but there are many scholarship offerings
12. Florida State University College of Law
The College of Law at the Florida State University a pre-law summer for undergraduates program called the Donald J. Weidner Summer Program. This program has been offered consistently since 1992. The purpose of this month-long summer immersion experience is to congregate undergraduates from all over the country to learn together about the field of law. This is the biggest program of its kind, offering 60 spots annually. Students who participate will have excellent chances of later being accepted into a law school of their choice. In fact, 70 percent of graduates later enrolled in law school. Fifty states are represented by the participants. The offerings of the program include: classes that are taught by law faculty each day, coursework on the admissions process for law school, and field trips to places like the Florida Supreme Court. Freshman and Sophmores of all majors are invited to apply.
Cost: All expenses covered
13. Cornell University
Cornell University offers a summer pre law and internship program that takes place in New York City. This six-week summer program is not for the faint of heart, as it is noted for being quite demanding. It is geared towards sophomores and juniors in four year degree programs. Participants will learn about all of the key elements of being a lawyer in today’s world. Not only will participants learn about the underpinnings of United States Law, along with a practical application of it’s inner workings with a legal internship. The initial three weeks of the programs gives students the opportunity to take the foundational course called The American Legal System, which utilizes the socratic method offered at most law schools. The second three weeks of the program are dedicated to the participation in an immersive internship. Following the participation in this program, students will be well poised to participate in a law school program.
14. Minnesota Law School will offer the Minnesota Pre-Law Scholar Program (MPLS)
Minnesota Law School offers a pre-law summer program called Minnesota Pre-Law Scholars Program (MPLS). This opportunity is designed for undergraduate students who are considering attending law school. They are specifically outreaching to high achieving students from underrepresented groups. This program is an effort to make the field of law a more level playing ground as far as diversity is concerned. Much of the programming will focus on rigorous LSAT preparation and the law school admissions process. Attendance is mandatory for all students who enroll in the program, and they are expected to complete a minimum of 15-20 hours of homework per week. All classes convene at the University of Minnesota Law School two evenings per week.
Cost: The program (including room and board) is free, but there is a $100 seat holding deposit required. All study materials and books are included.
15. The Summer Pre-Law Intensive (SPI)
The Summer Pre Law Intensive (SPI) is delivered by the director of Cutts Graduate Review who authored the LSAT Prep Book Barrons, Jay Cutts. This is one of the programs under the Prelaw Pipeline Project umbrella. It is expressly designed for students from diverse backgrounds including low income and students of color. They have a number of sponsors including the National Black Law Students Association, National Native American Law Students Associations, Phi Alpha Data National, and the National Latina/ o Law Association. They are also supported with resources and moral support from law faculty from around the country. The program delves into comprehensive LSAT preparation, and each student will be paired with a mentor who will stay engaged in their course of study and offer regular support. Students will be given an SPI study guide that has 10 days worth of assignments.
Cost: $125- additional coaching costs may apply
16. Marist College
Marist College offers a Summer Pre Law Program (Pre College: Pre Law). This program is designed to give prospective law students a foundation in the study of law and law school. Participants will gain an understanding of the legal timeline in this country as well as an understanding of founding legal documents for which the US was built. Students will analyze famous and law cases as well as more common place legal scenarios. Also covered are the ins and outs of family law, torts, contracts, property law, criminal law, and devising of wills. There will be a variety of guest speakers and field trips to important legal sites including the FDR Courthouse and Museum. There are two sessions and students can participate in one or both. Each session grants 3 college credit hours. The programming takes place on the beautiful Marist College Campus on the Hudson River.
Cost: $3,500 per session (this does not include travel expenses)
17. Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law Summer Law and Leadership Academy
The Robert H. McKinney School of Law through Indiana University offers a pre law summer program that is specifically geared towards underrepresented groups. The entire program takes place over the course of one week and will intensively cover a variety of topics critical to the practice of law and application to law school. Students will learn an introductory approach to the criminal process, legal writing skills, current topics that are hot in the legal realm, how to network (including actual networking opportunities), field trips and lectures, career possibilities, and participate in mock trials. All applicants must be current undergraduate students with a minimum of 32 credits under their belts. Applicants must have a 2.75 GPA or above to qualify for the program.
Cost: Free to attend-though it is very competitive. Housing is provided for students who live over 30 miles away from Indianapolis
18. University of Wisconsin Law School
The University of Wisconsin Law School offers a Pre law Undergraduate Scholars Summer Program (PLUS) that is an intensive immersion experience. It is specifically designed for students who are enrolled in a four year college program and have finished their freshman or sophomore years. The vision of this program is to give more students from underrepresented communities the tools that they need to pursue law. Twenty five students will be selected to participate from all over the country. The course of the program is two weeks and takes place on campus at the University of Wisconsin. The entire program is facilitated by scholars and experts in the legal field. Participants will learn all of the necessary skills for law school application. The entire program is free of charge, including room and board. Each student who completes the program will receive a $1,000 stipend.
Cost: Free with a $1,000 stipend
19. University of California Davis School of Law – King Hall Outreach Program
The University of California Davis School of Law offers what is called the King Hall Outreach Program. This program began in 2001 with the sole mission of supporting college students from underrepresented communities to prepare to apply for law school. All students who participate will work with mentors to prepare for the LSAT, law school applications, and understand the inner workings of the legal system. Participants must be in their junior or senior year of their undergraduate degree program. Students will participate in full day saturday sessions and a myriad of workshops, as well as access individual advising sessions. There are a variety of writing assignments that students will submit throughout the program, all of which will be critiqued. They will also have the opportunity to sit in on a trial and visit important sites related to law.
20. Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO)
The Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO) offers a variety of pre-law programming, mostly geared towards undergraduate students interested in pursuing a law degree. One of their popular offerings is called the Pre-Law Summer Institute. This opportunity is specifically for undergraduate seniors or those who are just graduating and are interested in pursuing law school in the coming fall. The programming consists of both online and in person classes, workshiops, and advising. The goal of the program is to holistically prepare students to excel in law school. The in person aspects of the program take place at the University of Pennsylvania Carlisle Law Campus in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. All graduates of the program are then considered CLEO fellows. The cohort for which students are placed will have opportunities to reconnect throughout their law school experience.
Cost: $2,500 (Includes room and board but not transportation)
Lawbound is a program launched by a group called LatinoJustice in 2005. The goal of the program was and continues to be based on bringing more latinos to the legal field, as they are an underrepresented group among lawyers. They believe in outreaching more to latino communities to be prospective law students, mentor and network within the community, and participate in wrap-around programming that offers more Latino law students access to the Bar. Applicants must show a strong desire to go after a legal education, be a member of the hispanic community, currently be a freshman or sophomore at a four year college or university, and they must have a 3.0 GPA or above with proven transcripts. Applicants are required to attend the entire summer session, which takes place in August, to qualify.
22. Columbia University
Columbia University offers a competitive pre law summer program that is designed to make undergraduates who are interested in pursuing a law degree excellent candidates for law school. This program is a collaboration between the Law School and Columbia’s School of Professional Studies. The way the program works is by offering a variety of relevant classes that participants can choose from. Each student will take four classes in the duration of the summer program. They are offered on the points system, meaning each student will participate in 12 points worth of programming if they do both summer sessions. Each class adds up to three points on this system. The class offerings include comparative jurisprudence, Constitutional crisis on Campus: Constitutional Law Through the Lens of Higher Education, US Foreign Policy, International Human Rights Law, and Race Crime and the Law. All of the classes are facilitated by expert legal faculty on campus.
Cost: $2,132 per point
23. Sidley Prelaw Scholars Program
The Sidley Prelaw Scholars Program is designed to support students who are underrepresented in the field of law to have access to the resources to excel in the law school application process. They are well aware that the reason many underrepresented students don’t have law school opportunities is a result of the lack of resources to effectively prepare for the LSAT. They have a few program offerings including Sidley Scholars Summer Seminar, which most often takes place in Chicago. All of the students chosen to be Sidley Prelaw Scholars will have access to scholarships to ensure they can attend. All of the participants are expected to complete the program and graduate from a four year college or university in good standing. They must attend all of the LSAT prep courses associated with the program. They are expected to matriculate into law school the fall after graduating from college.
Cost: Covered by the Scholarship
24. SEO Law Fellowship
The SEO Law Fellowship is a program designed to support students of color to have an opportunity to be successful in law school and beyond. The program starts one summer before law school. What this means is fellows have already been accepted to law school by the time they begin the program. Students who participate in the program are all placed at a top law firm where they will participate in a paid internship. They will also have a dedicated mentor and access to networking opportunities. Students will also receive extensive law school preparatory offerings. Forty three of the top law firms in the United States hire SEO fellows for their internships. They have almost 128 alumni members who work as general counsel members, senior corporate counsel members, or chief legal officers. Not only is the program subsidized, but students are paid for their internship work.
Cost: free with compensation for internships
25. Boston University Study Abroad Summer Program
Boston University, one of the best pre law colleges, offers four internship programs that tie into pre-law summer offerings. One of the programs is the London Internship Program. This gives students the opportunity to spend eight weeks at a pre-placed law internship with included classes and workshops on pertinent law-related topics. These are considered some of the best internships for prelaw students. The other Interesting program with excellent pre-law options includes the Brussels Internship Program. Because Belgium is the heartbeat of European Union legislation, it could be an excellent place to learn about European law. Students will get to visit government organizations and political sites as part of the program. They also have a program that is fitting for many pre-law students that enables them to study human rights, global governance, and economic development in Switzerland Geneva.The last program is another summer internship opportunity in Dublin Ireland. Dublin is now considered “the Silicon Valley” of Europe with a lot of opportunity for students to work in an immersive experience at a professional site that is a good fit for their skills and interests.
Cost: Dependant on the Program
What Do You Do in a Pre-Law Summer Program?
As you can see, there are a number of pre-law summer programs that tie into the trajectory of building a successful law student. Each program has different focal points and emphasizes a niche that can be nuanced. For example, many of the programs we have highlighted are summer pre law programs for undergraduates that specifically bring to light the racial and economic disparity amongst the general population of lawyers. The goal of many of these programs for college and graduate students is to close the gap and bring more students of color to the front lines of legal practice. They see the utility in not allowing economic resources to inhibit students from participating in pre-law summer programs. Many of the pre-law summer programs for college students are geared towards extensive LSAT preparation and how to effectively apply for law school. The application process can be a harrowing ordeal, so a program like the ones we have discussed can be exactly what is needed to effectively charge ahead. Many of the programs are structured to be a mix of lectures, field trips to sites relevant to the field of law, coursework, mentoring, and test prep. Most of the summer law programs for undergraduate students dedicate a significant amount of time to networking within the field and team building within cohorts.
Are There Summer Programs for High Schoolers Who Want to Major in Pre-Law?
There are a few pre-law summer programs for high school students interested in law, but most are for college and graduate students. As you take a look at the variety of summer legal programs that we have written about, you will see that many are designed for students in the early stages of their four-year college degree programs. The goal is definitely to set students up for success as they lay the foundation for their academic careers. It is important if they want to attend law school, directly following their college graduation, that they are planning ahead for LSAT preparation and coursework that will be relevant to their law school application.
Are There any Summer Pre-Law Programs for Minority Students?
We have laid out many pre-law summer programs for minorities on our list. There are actually several that fit this bill. How is justice supposed to serve all populations if there is no diversity reflected in the field of law? These are important questions being asked that have led many key players to bring together resources to ensure diversity is considered when evaluating who has access to the field of law. You will see that not only are there pre-law preparatory programs for underrepresented and minority students, but many include internships that offer relevant work experience as well. Many of these internships offer a pretty significant stipend as well as valuable mentoring opportunities.
Pre-law programs come in many shapes and sizes and many have target populations. You will see that we even have one that specifically targets students who are interested in engaging with the law from a Christian perspective. Of course, there are many on the list that cater to social justice and minority groups. The law is critical to informing justice and bringing forth a world that can hold everyone equally. We hope one of these programs rings your bell.