If Elle Woods from the classic movie “Legally Blonde” taught us anything, it is that getting into law school is all about good PR. The UCLA fashion merchandising major crafted messages for her video essay that, combined with her near-perfect LSAT score, earned her a spot at Harvard Law.
Although the American Bar Association does not recommend an undergraduate major for pre-law students, recent data from the Law School Admissions Council shows that nearly 25% of all law school applicants study political science. This is an overwhelming majority considering that the next three most popular majors each claim only 7% of applicants. Communications students represent 3% of applicants, and fashion merchandising receives no mention.
Your PR writing professor likely won’t assign you a case memo, and your midterms may never resemble moot court, but PR majors are uniquely qualified to excel in legal work.
What’s the connection?
Law and communication overlaps significantly as both professionals function as an adviser and counsel, researcher, strategic planner, and communicator.
Alexis Hooley, an attorney at Hooley Law PLLC and an adjunct communications professor at Brigham Young University, received her bachelor’s in communications before earning her Doctor of Jurisprudence at BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School. Hooley remembers learning to write in the strict legal style.
“It just clicked with me because I remembered doing that in communications,” she says. “In communications, we learn about writing with a strong tone and a voice. Sometimes, law students are so focused on the argument that they forget the voice.”
In addition to crucial written and verbal communications skills, PR students and attorneys both value intentional research and clear data. PR practitioners and lawyers know how to research and then marshal relevant facts into a compelling strategic argument for their client’s interest.
Is law school for me?
Law school is not for everyone, but communications students can expand their coursework in these four ways to explore this potential career path.
1. Go straight to the source.
Hooley’s advice for those considering law is to talk with practicing attorneys in a range of disciplines. Use these conversations to discover the variety of work opportunities for lawyers and consider what type of law may interest you. Talking with an attorney who studied communications or who is practicing law in your intended emphasis may be beneficial.
Need a place to start? Search LinkedIn for “attorney,” then filter to see people who graduated from your university. Alumni love to give back, so start with the lawyers who root for the same football team on Friday nights.
Hooley assures, “It can be really intimidating to talk to professionals in a chosen field, but the more professionals you’re talking to, the better off you’ll be.”
2. Watch and learn.
Observing law school courses is another way to determine if law is a good choice for you. Many law schools welcome classroom observation and facilitate these appointments through their admissions website. Some schools offer virtual appointments, allowing prospective students to observe classes taking place across the country.
3. Put your general electives to work.
PR students can also take undergraduate elective courses in political science, government, and history for an introduction to the legal system. Browse your school’s course catalog to see if you can find a law lecture series or a mock law course. Consider meeting with a pre-law adviser to learn what other courses you may find valuable.
4. Score an internship.
Finally, when looking for communications experience required for graduation, find work in the legal realm. Think tanks, nonprofits, and even law firms need communications interns. Get exposure to legal practice through a communications internship that bolsters both your undergraduate work and your law school application.
Public relations is a gold mine degree for pre-law students. If law sounds exciting, immerse yourself in the legal world while leaning into the skills taught in your PR courses. Whether you take your talents as a strategic communicator to a law firm or a PR firm, follow Elle Woods’ lead and do it in style.
Emma Lammi graduated from Brigham Young University’s public relations program in December 2022. She currently works as a Brand and Content Strategist at 97th Floor, a creative digital marketing agency in Lehi, Utah. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.