I’m planning on getting my JD in real estate law, however the college I am attending does not offer a ‘pre-law’ degree. What should I major in to prepare myself for real estate law school?
What college are you attending?
One of the biggest mistakes that prospective law school students make is thinking that they need to major in pre-law. The best undergrad degrees for the JD is something in the business realm (economics, general business, etc.) or even something in the English department as you will be reading and writing more than you could imagine. In all reality, though, your undergrad major matters very little. What you should be more focused on is what major can give you the experience you need and the lowest difficulty of maintaining a good GPA. Hope that helps.
No specific major is required for pre-law.
Here is a table of majors of LSAT takers and the average LSAT score by major. Note that a wide variety of majors is listed.
What you can do when you get to college (after your first semester and you’ve settled in) is stop by the career planning center at your school and ask for the list of alums who are working in real estate law. Then contact them to see if they will do an informational interview with you. The purpose of the interview is to find out 1) what they like most about their work 2) what they like least about it 3) how the field is changing 4) what preparation did they have 5) what preparation do they wish they’d had/recommend to someone who is interested in entering this field 6) what’s the future of this area of law (what’s growing, what’s shrinking, what’s being outsourced, etc…) and 7) what are the best law schools for someone with your interests.
If you do a really good job in preparing for your interview and impress the people you are interviewing, you will walk away with internship offers for the following summer, referrals to others you can speak with who are working in the same or related fields, and the invitation to stay in touch as your interests develop. Oh, and advice on what to study/major in.
Most schools do not have a pre-law major.
You can major in anything and be pre-law.
However, since you’re interested in Real Estate law, you might look to see if your school’s Bschool has a real estate concentration.
Also…take some philosophy courses, particularly Deductive Logic…it will help you in many ways in any career…and could help you with the LSAT.
I have done some real estate work (but not much). The tasks in it are like corporate law, which I do: negotiating and preparing long contracts, and ensuring that all of the pieces of a deal fit together and comply with the law.
For that, there’s no major that is a must. Majoring in something that requires a lot of reading and writing, such as history or a language, is good, but majoring in business would be as well.
Do NOT major in pre-law. That’s totally lame and marks you as a second-tier student.
I majored in urban planning for my BA, which provided a good interdisciplinary major relating to the development of real estate. It provided a great foundation for law school, especially for my law review article on real property law. I eventually practiced environmental law before focusing entirely on real estate investment.
In some states, you need to be an attorney to close on a house. If you are thinking of that kind of real estate law, do whatever major prepares you to succeed in law school and gets you a high GPA.
If you want to do big commercial real estate transactions, then you would probably (guessing here) be best-served by studying business, accounting, urban planning, finance, or the like, along with enough writing courses so that you are a strong writer.
A little late, but just wanted to add that there is no such thing as “real estate law school”. You can take some real estate courses in law school, but you don’t “major” in in a particular type of law in the undergrad sense, and law school curricula are all general in nature, requiring that you learn a wide variety of legal subjects to graduate and ultimately pass the bar. Then you can choose to specialize in whatever area you prefer.
I am not so sure about the comments of Tigerrocks, and I have seen folks just tear up law school who had degrees as divergent as formerly being a graduate of Juilliard, PhD from MIT, to actually a convicted bank robber. And my experience spans from my various top 20 schools all the way up to YLS. So, I can’t say I agree with that statement, in fact at YLS, most of the admitted students, had degrees that were the opposite of what he/she just suggested.
I am also a corporate lawyer and negotiate commercial leases, purchase and sales agreements and have done dozens of closings. I was a poli sci major and remember being impressed by econ and business majors who were doing real estate deals in college. I knew nothing about real estate then, other than what I had read. The best experience is to buy or sell property yourself. You’ll learn quickly.
I did not attend a T14, so things for those students may be different, but the legal market for everyone else is such that most law school graduates don’t have the luxury of choosing to practice “real estate law” or “insurance law” or “international law”. Most graduates get one or two solid offers at most; it’s not a seller’s market. So to set oneself up to practice “real estate law” is not the best idea, as it unnecessarily limits one’s options. I work in a large government office with almost 300 attorneys; we’ve got a dozen or so who do nothing bu handle litigation for the Department of Corrections, and I’d wager not a single one decided during law school to “specialize” in corrections litigation. I also am involved in hiring, and for our last job, requiring 5 years experience, we got 28 resumes from qualified attorneys. It’s a mistake to focus on one area of practice in law school.
My friend’s daughter majored in Asian Studies while in college. She worked in Big law for 9 years in real estate law and now currently works in house at a REIT.