It used to be that well-educated men and women were “generalists” when it came to college majors. A few economics or history classes and a general studies major was about all that was needed to find a good job on Wall Street or Main Street. Today things have changed dramatically.
After canvassing my clients, here is their advice: Do not choose a major just because it is easy, and do not be afraid to go out on a limb and pick a challenging one if you think you might like the subject. Any major brings with it a mix of classes. If you are serious about law school, a few clients suggested you go one more step and take a double major. If you enjoy history, for example, why not add a second major such as economics? Economics requires a strong quantitative component while history will require a lot of writing. Both skills are highly valued in the job market and by potential law schools. Even if you decide to work after graduation and attend law school at a later date, what you gain by taking harder classes will pay off when you take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). A double major, or even a single major with a strong concentration in a secondary subject, will make you that much more competitive. But be cautious. Some majors are easier than others to combine. For example, engineering requires so many prerequisites that it might not leave room for a second major or even a minor area of concentration.
And do not forget to take a foreign language. Languages are more important than ever in our increasingly diverse society and in the business world. Employers are thinking several years down the road and they want new employees to be prepared for the international marketplace.
Another issue to consider when deciding on a major is class size. Do you like large lecture classes or small seminars? Both have pros and cons. Small classes make it easier to be recognized, and there is more opportunity to interact with your professors and other students. Larger classes tend to be a beehive of students, but that does not always mean you'll be ignored. Many large lecture courses break up into smaller sections at least twice a week with no more than 15 students per section. Take time to get to know your teaching assistant (a graduate student). In many cases, he or she will offer special insight into grad school possibilities and job prospects that you will not get from a professor.
Try not to let your school discourage you from taking a double major or from designing a unique major not offered in the course catalog. Counselors will generally tell you that you have to take lower division prerequisites for a double major in order to get approval. However, if you visit the department deans of the majors you are interested in you may find that one set of perquisites will satisfy the other.
Let me add a positive note by stressing there is no single “best” major to take in preparation for law school. The better law schools do not rank majors, so feel free to study English, math, history or even engineering. The only exception is that most top law schools warn undergraduates against taking “vocational” type classes such as business or accounting. Harvard Law School says that admission to its program is inversely proportional to the number of these classes on applicants’ transcripts. So, you see, there is no need to cater to most professional schools by selecting the “right” major. It is sufficient that you enjoy what you study and do well in your courses.