*UCSC does not offer this as an undergraduate major.
The nation’s top law schools have accepted UC Santa Cruz graduates. UCSC does not have a major title Prelaw. We offer a legal studies major and a politics major. It is a popular misconception that students must major in prelaw, legal studies, or politics in order to get into law school. This simply is not the case. Law schools accept students from a variety of majors: sociology, literature, philosophy, psychology, biology, anthropology, physics, economics, chemistry, mathematics, and engineering, for example. Law schools are primarily interested in students who possess strong analytical and communication skills. They prefer students who have a diverse educational background to those who have a narrow academic focus.
Students do not necessarily need to enter law school immediately after graduation. Many law schools prefer to accept students who have some work experience and maturity. Each year, priests, surgeons, homemakers, professors, scientists, engineers, pilots, stockbrokers, welfare workers, and foresters are accepted into law schools across the nation. The ages of first-year law students range from 21 to 50 years, with the median around 26. This diversity in backgrounds and training enriches the law school experience for all the students.
UC Santa Cruz’s Career Center provides information and counseling for students considering attending law school and pursuing a career in law. The Official Guide to ABA Approved Law Schools is in the Career Center resource library along with several other law school directories, books about applying to law school, and books describing different areas of legal practice. The office also provides information about private firms offering preparatory courses for the LSAT. Workshops on applying to law school, information meetings with law school officials, and free practice LSATs are offered during the academic year. If you would like to be on the prelaw list serve and receive information on these events, please contact the prelaw advisor at the UCSC Career Center.
Preparation for Law School
Students from diverse educational backgrounds do equally well in both law school and law practice. Although the choice of major is not important, courses in fields such as mathematics, logic, history, philosophy, economics, computer science, and the physical and social sciences may be helpful. Courses should be demanding, requiring analytical and critical thought and deductive and abstract reasoning. Development of the following skills is recommended for potential law students:
An advanced level of reading comprehension
Writing competence gained by taking courses that require writing research papers and in which writing is rigorously edited
Intellectual discipline, with experience derived from intensive work for a substantial period in a selected field of study.
When reviewing an applicant’s record, most law schools evaluate Law School Admission Test (LSAT) score, and the individual’s grades, personal essay, and letters of recommendation. Students who do not score well on the LSAT, but who have done well in school and have been active in leadership activities and internships, also have a chance of acceptance.
Ken Alex (B.A., politics, ’79) is a Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Jerry Brown and the Director of the Office of Planning and Research. Before joining the Governor’s Office, Ken was the Senior Assistant Attorney General heading the environment section of the California Attorney General’s Office, and the co-head of the Office’s global warming unit. From 2000 to 2006, he led the California Attorney General’s energy task force, investigating price and supply issues related to California’s energy crisis. He spearheaded numerous settlement negotiations against power producers that collectively resulted in over $5 billion of energy crisis-related recoveries for the State of California. California Lawyer named him Attorney of the Year in 2004 for his work in energy law, and he received the ABA award for Distinguished Achievement in Environmental Law and Policy in 2007. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School.
Trent Crable (B.A., philosophy and politics, ’99) is a Native Peoples lawyer in the Seattle, Washington area. He is Associate General Counsel at Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and Associate Justice at The Poarch Band of Creek Indians Tribal Supreme Court.
Kelvin Filer (B.A., politics, ’77) is a highly regarded superior court judge in the Compton district of Los Angeles, the community where he grew up. As a lawyer at the age of 27, Judge Filer argued a landmark case before the California Supreme Court that established the right of all defendants to wear their own clothes in court.
Allan Goodman (B.A., politics, ’67) is former Deputy Attorney General of California and is now a superior court judge in Los Angeles. He has argued cases before the Federal Supreme Court.
Joseph W. Guzzetta (B.A., legal studies and economics, ’01) is a financial services litigator at Severson & Werson in San Francisco.
Bonnie Hough (B.A., American studies, ’83) is founder of the Family Law Center in San Rafael and now works as the Managing Attorney for the California Administrative Office of the Court’s (AOC) Center for Families, Children & the Courts, where she has been employed since 1997. The focus of her work is on helping courts meet the needs of self-represented litigants. She has received the Faye Stender award from California Women Lawyers, the Opening Doors to Justice award from the Public Interest Clearinghouse, the Dale Sipes Spirit of Justice Award from the Administrative Office of the Courts, and the Award of Merit from the Legal Aid Association of California and California Commission on Access to Justice.
Steven A. Jung (B.A., politics, ’78) is senior counsel in Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck’s Santa Barbara office and head of the Trusts and Estates Group. He has a Masters of Law in taxation, and is a California State Bar certified specialist in estate planning, trust and probate law.
Steve Martini (B.A., politics, ’68) is an attorney and best-selling author of 15 novels, including Trader of Secrets, The Rule of Nine, and others.
Roberto Nájera (B.A., sociology, ’79) graduated from Harvard Law School in 1982 and is now a deputy alternate defender in Contra Costa County. In 2003, Nájera argued a case before the U.S. Supreme Court that ultimately overturned a 1994 California statute-of-limitations law, freeing many who had been unconstitutionally convicted. After 30 years as an attorney and 20 years in the Public Defenders Office, Nájera recently retired to pursue other interests.
Michelle Ouellette (B.A., environmental studies and sociology, ’85) is an environmental lawyer with Best Best & Krieger in Riverside. The Daily Journal, California’s legal publication, recently named her one of California’s top female litigators of the year.
Regan A. Parker (B.A., anthropology and literature, ’01) is Director of Workforce Innovation and Advocacy for LiveOps, Inc., a technology company in Santa Clara, where she provides legal services as in-house counsel. See her on YouTube!
Stefan R. Spich (B.A., history and politics, ’00) graduated from UC Davis Law School in 2006 and is now an associate attorney in the Corporate Group at Baker & McKenzie, LLP in San Diego. His firm works primarily in the fields of private equity, securities, and mergers and acquisitions.