The Pre-Law Program at the University of Montana is a mentoring and certificate program that helps students become well-informed and well-prepared applicants for law school. As a Pre-Law student, you will select a major that aligns with your interests and then receive one-on-one mentorship and advising support from Pre-Law faculty as you build your best strategies for law school preparation.

Because UM’s Pre-Law Program is an advising program, you will select a major that is relevant to the area of law you wish to pursue. Popular majors for UM Pre-Law students include environmental studies, environmental sciences, business, political science, criminology, social work, history or philosophy. Our Pre-Law advisors help guide you as you select a major, choose courses within and outside of your major, select extracurricular activities and internships. This mentorship helps you build your strongest possible application to law school.

Ninety percent of the students who graduate from UM’s Pre-Law Program are accepted into their top-choice law school, a rate that is superior to any Pre-Law Program in the state of Montana and competes with the most elite Pre-Law programs in the nation. Through its courses and commitment to student advising, you will gain the tools and skillsets to achieve your goals of pursuing a legal education.


acceptance rate to law school




Pre-Law Certificate and LSAT course for credit in Montana

Other Law Degree Programs at UM

What can you do with a Pre-Law Degree?

Most students who study pre-law advance to attend law school. Our students are accepted in law schools all over the country, including top-tier schools. Many students opt to attend UM’s Alexander Blewett III School of Law, while others choose to attend larger schools like the University of Washington or schools in the University of California system (Irvine, Davis, Berkeley). Some of our students matriculate into the nation's most prestigious schools, such as University of Virginia, Georgetown, University of Chicago and Harvard.

However, not all Pre-Law students pursue law school. Some enter graduate school in the fields of political science, creative writing or philosophy. Regardless of the advanced degree you seek after obtaining your bachelor’s degree, the critical thinking, writing and analytical skills you learned in the Pre-Law Program will serve you well.

What is Pre-Law?

Pre-Law at the University of Montana is a unique advising program that provides students with personal, one-on-one mentorship, coaching and advising. Faculty members Soazig Le Bihan and Jeffrey Stephenson will get to know you and your career goals, then guide you in selecting the best major, courses and internships in your specific area of interest. This is what law schools want to see: actual, tangible experiences that show how your undergraduate education has prepared you for success in law school and in the legal profession.

As a student pursuing a Pre-Law Certificate at UM, you will learn about the legal profession and the law school application process. You’ll participate in experiential learning opportunities that will translate to a successful law school application. You’ll also be a part of a student community that learns together and supports each other.

Some Pre-Law students choose to pursue UM’s Philosophy, Politics and Law Certificate (PPL, pronounced “People”). This unique certificate gives you a foundational education in how legal and political institutions should function (philosophy), have functioned (history) and currently function (social sciences). Through the multidisciplinary approach of this certificate, you will gain a deep understanding of legal and political systems, as well as of your own position within such systems.

Jobs in Pre-Law

Note: Most – but not all – pre-law students go on to obtain a law degree, therefore many of the positions listed here require a juris doctorate degree.

  • Lawyer
  • Law Clerk
  • Judge
  • Mediator
  • Litigation support
  • Legal advisor/consultant
  • Paralegal (does not require JD degree)
  • Legal assistant (does not require JD degree)

Pre-Law Salaries

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for lawyers in 2022 was $135,740. Judges and hearing officers earned an average of $128,610 in 2022. Mediators and arbitrators earned a median salary of $64,030 in 2022. Other career paths for those who study pre-law might include working as a paralegal or legal assistant. Those professionals earned an average of $59,200 in 2022.

Alumni Success Story

Class of 2023 UM graduate Stephen Hayes chose a combination of academic areas of study to gain the cultural and historical context needed to represent marginalized groups as a lawyer. He achieved double majors in history and philosophy, as well as a minor in African-American Studies, and he participated in UM's Pre-Law advising program. The rigors of UM’s programs and the mentorship he received brought Hayes one step closer to his goal of representing the underdog in a court of law.

“My ability to be as successful as I have been at the University is in no small part due to the amazing faculty and staff that have allowed me to flourish here,” Hayes says. “These are people I know I will continue to be in touch with for the rest of my life.”

Alumni Testimonials

“The Pre-Law Program provided me with countless resources that set me up for success in ultimately matriculating at Georgetown Law. Enrolling in the Pre-Law Program not only immersed me in a community of individuals sharing similar ambitions, but also facilitated invaluable connections with peers, faculty members and established professionals. The supportive and inclusive community at UM fostered a sense of belonging. Everyone -- from professors to peers -- wanted to see me succeed and encouraged me when navigating the complexities of the law school application process."

- Marianna Yearboro, UM Pre-Law Program graduate, Class of 2020; Georgetown Law graduate, Class of 2023; associate at Dechert LLP in New York, specializing in corporate and securities law

Read more testimonials from UM Pre-Law students here.

Experiential Learning in the Pre-Law Program

As a Pre-Law student, you’ll take challenging classes that foster your reading, writing, research and analytical thinking skills. Our Pre-Law students know how to work as a team, are fast learners and live by an impeccable work ethic. By preparing well for law school, UM Pre-Law students also prepare for the job market.

Our Pre-Law students often join the UM Ethics Bowl team, which examines cases of practical and professional ethics and travels to compete against other university teams in regional and national competitions.

Internships For Pre-Law Students

UM’s Pre-Law students intern with the Montana Innocence Project, the ACLU, the Montana Legal Services Association, CASA of Missoula, the YWCA’s GUTS program, Mountain Home Montana and other nonprofit organizations in town. Our students also intern at Missoula law firms, the Montana Supreme Court, and political organizations such as MontPIRG, the Mansfield Center and political campaigns. Pre-Law students often are selected to intern in Washington, D.C., through the Baucus Leaders Program and the Demmer Scholars Program.

Undergraduate Research Experiences For Pre-Law Students

Pre-Law students may elect to conduct research on a law-related topic for their capstone project or as an independent study. Recent students have completed research projects on topics such as free speech, libertarian theories of government authority and the question of water rights in the Flathead Lake area.

Career Development in the Pre-Law Program

As a UM Pre-Law student, you will take the Pre-Law Seminar, where you will have the opportunity to learn from legal professionals and law school admissions officials. You’ll also take an LSAT preparation course, the only such for-credit class in Montana.

Equally important, our students develop the academic and professional skills that make them a valuable employee in any field. Employers and law school admissions officers alike recognize that our students have earned real-world experience through their coursework, internships and extracurriculars.

Many UM Pre-Law students take a gap year before they go to law school. During that time, many students have worked as legal assistants for various law firms in town (DML, River Mountain Immigration and many private firms). Some have worked for Justice for Montanans (AmeriCorps), the Montana Innocence Project, CASA of Missoula, the Montana Legal Services Association and the Montana Legislature.

Scholarships for Pre-Law Students

At the University of Montana, more than 90% of first-year students receive financial aid in some form. Incoming students are automatically considered for either the Western Undergraduate Exchange Program or the University of Montana Academic Achievement Scholarship, and other scholarship opportunities abound.

Many Pre-Law students are members of UM’s Davidson Honors College, which offers a variety of scholarships. Learn more about Davidson Honors College scholarships here. History and Political Science are common majors among students in the Pre-Law Program, and there are many scholarships available to those students. Learn more about scholarships for History majors. Learn more about scholarships for Political Science majors here. Explore the full UM Scholarship Portal here.

UM's Office of External Scholarships and Fellowships mentors UM students through the process of applying for external scholarships such as the Fulbright, Udall, Truman, Rhodes and more. Learn more about scholarship opportunities for UM students.


Clubs and Student Organizations For Pre-Law Students

UM’s Pre-Law students are an active group, and many participate in a wide variety of student groups. The Pre-Law Program sponsors the student-run Pre-Law Society. Many of our students are also engaged in student government (Associated Students of UM, aka ASUM), and often hold leadership positions. In fall 2023, the ASUM president, vice president and budget manager were all Pre-Law students. Other Pre-Law students are active in the Climate Resource Club, the Ethics Team, the Women’s Resource Center and the Criminology Club.

Pre-Law Classes at UM

Through one-on-one advising, our Pre-Law faculty will learn your personal goals and help you select courses across campus that align with your aspirations. Many of our Pre-Law students plan to pursue the field of environmental law, therefore they select courses from UM’s vast academic options related to the environment. Other Pre-Law students choose College of Business classes that prepare them for a career in business law. Still other students choose to focus their undergraduate studies on political science, the social sciences, philosophy or other areas of the humanities. Not matter the area of law that interests you, UM’s undergraduate courses will help you build a strong foundation for your future career, and the Pre-Law Program will help you find those classes.

In addition, UM’s Pre-Law Program offers courses specifically designed to prepare students for law school. UM's Introduction to Pre-Law (HONR 130) provides students an introduction to the elements of a good preparation for law school. UM’s Pre-Law Seminar (HONR 391) is a unique course that details the law school application process, the life of a law student and various careers in the law. Students interact with legal professionals and law school admission officers to explore their futures in law school and the legal profession.

UM’s Pre-Law LSAT prep course (PHL 318 Applied Logic) will enhance your analytical thinking skills to score well on the Law School Admission Test, the test all U.S. law schools require of applicants. In PHL 318 Applied Logic, you’ll learn not only how to assess reasons, arguments and evidence provided in support of a claim – which is primarily what lawyers do – you’ll also learn argument analysis and complex reading strategies for successful performance on the LSAT.