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CBA Accounting, Finance, & Economics
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Economics

Law Degree Programs

Students majoring in economics often decide to pursue legal careers. The demand for lawyers is high, but there are many applicants to law schools and an ever-increasing flow of new lawyers from law schools. In fact, the number of new lawyers is so great that average salaries in the legal profession are held down because of oversupply. Furthermore, the caliber of the students in law schools is rising continuously, and the competition within law schools is intense. To obtain admission to law school, students must have a serious, mature, professional interest in a legal career. Their grades must be excellent, and they must be familiar with a wide range of subject matters to achieve a good score on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).

As the following table indicates, economics majors score exceptionally well on entrance exams for law schools. In 2007-08, they scored an average of 157.4.  Although not quite as good as physics and manth majors, economics majors tied for the top scores among all majors with at least 450 students taking the LSAT.

Average LSAT Scores by Undergraduate Major (2007-08)
Major Average Score
Economics 157.4
Philosophy 157.4
International Relations 156.5
Engineering 156.2
History 155.9
English 155.2
Biology/Natural Science 154.8
Arts 154.2
Finance 153.4
Political Science 153.1
Psychology 152.5
Accounting 151.7
Journalism/Communications 151.1
Sociology/Social Work 151.2
Marketing 150.8
Management 149.7
Criminology 146.0
Source: Michael Nieswiandy, "LSAT Scores of Economics Majors: The 2008-2009 Class Update," electronic copy available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1430654. The table lists scores for all majors with more than 1400 law school applicants.

Even more impressively, attorneys with an undergraduate degree in economics earn salaries on more than 10% higher than those of other attorneys on average. Economics is the only undergraduate major to have this impact. [see "Do Economists Make Better Lawyers? Undergraduate Field and Lawyer Earnings," by R. Kim Craft and Joe G. Baker in the Journal of Economic Education, Summer 2003.]

A foundation in economics is critical for many legal specialties and prepares students for the rigor of legal analysis and reasoning. Many controversial legal issues (e.g., ones relating to pollution, resource scarcity, pension rights, intellectual property rights and social security) are largely economic in basis. The lawyer equipped with an economics background is certain to have a real advantage in litigation and in efforts to find better solutions to problems. According to one successful attorney, "people from other majors have trouble seeing what the real issues are," while economics "cuts through the fat."

Students interested in more information about law school should consult the Law School Admission Council Web site.