Psychology is an excellent pre-law liberal arts major for a number of reasons. It has been suggested that "...to study law is to study human behavior." Recently, a legal scholar listed the skills he thought a student should bring to the study of law:
- reading and writing well
- using a library
- evaluating opinion and evidence both qualitatively and quantitatively
- assessing people
This brief list describes a liberal arts student majoring in psychology, and may be among the reasons that many psychology majors have successfully completed Law School in the past and are currently engaged in a law career.
Why is psychology a good pre-law major? Students choose to major in psychology in part because they are interested in human motivation and the human condition. Indeed, many aspects of law deal with the human condition and with human behavior. For example, psychology majors are exposed to content areas easily translated into the concerns of mental health law, criminal law, and family law.
Other areas of the law are informed by psychological knowledge. For example, Forensic Psychology deals with applied and clinical facets of psychology in the practice of law. Also, in the past decade an increasing usage of expert testimony and jury selection by psychologists can be noted. Attorneys with backgrounds in psychology would be better able to utilize and critically evaluate the role of psychologists in their law practice.
One can make a case that most all course work in psychology is relevant to law. Psychology majors ideally have learned to analyze facts, and to think in a logical and concise manner - critically important for the study of law. The following psychology courses are directly relevant: Abnormal Psychology, Counseling Psychology, Group Processes, Social Psychology, Neurosciences, Testing and Measurement, Psychology of Women, Psychology of Memory, Perception, Learning & Behavior, and Theories of Personality.
Courses in other fields as recommended by the American Bar Association (1980) to supplement your pre-law study of psychology: Writing and public speaking; western civilization and political thought; logic and ethics; basic science; economics; basic accounting; and computer language.
Students interested in studying law upon graduation should inquire into admission requirements and career possibilities at the Law School they would like to attend.