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Top Pre-Law Summer Programs: Your Guide

January 9, 2024
8 min read


Reviewed by:

David Merson

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 11/7/23

Pre-law summer programs offer a firsthand glimpse into the legal field and a solid foundation for aspiring law students. Read on to learn more. 

When you take part in a summer program designed for pre-law studies, you can discover various aspects of law, see what it's like to be a lawyer, and connect with people in the legal field.

This firsthand experience can help you understand if you’re really interested in pursuing law as a profession, ensuring that you are making an informed decision about your future career path.

If you'd like to gain a competitive edge and explore the legal profession before stepping foot into law school, you've come to the right place. 

In this guide, we'll walk you through some of the best programs available, highlighting their benefits and the invaluable experiences they offer.

Top 15 Pre-Law Summer Programs

We’ve handpicked some of the best programs. Keep reading to learn all about them. 

1. Harvard Pre-Law Programs

Harvard Law School

Harvard University offers a range of pre-law programs. Participants gain insights into the legal field, develop critical thinking skills, and receive support throughout law school. 

The Future Leaders in Law, Future–L, and TRIALS programs offer immersive experiences, mentorship, and guidance for aspiring legal professionals from diverse backgrounds.

2. Cornell University Pre-Law Program

Cornell University offers a comprehensive experience for students interested in law. It blends academics, practical skills, and internships for a well-rounded understanding of the legal field. 

The Pre-Law Program and Internship enable participants to participate in seminars and skill-building activities to gain valuable insights for future success in law.

3. Yale Young Global Scholars (Law, Politics, and Economics Session)

While not exclusively focused on law, the Law, Politics, and Economics session offered by Yale Young Global Scholars is a highly regarded program. It explores legal and policy issues on an international scale, fostering critical thinking and understanding of legal systems.

4. Stanford Law and Trial Program

Stanford University immerses students in the legal field, providing a comprehensive experience. Through the Law and Trial Program, students learn about legal concepts, courtroom procedures, and case analysis through engaging lectures, dynamic discussions, and captivating mock trial activities.

Stanford University

5. PLUS Program

The PLUS Program, sponsored by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), targets undergraduate students from historically underrepresented groups in the legal field. It offers a four-week summer program with law school preparation, mentoring, and exposure to legal careers.

6. University of California, Berkeley, Pre-Law Scholars Program

UC Berkeley’s summer program is a six-week initiative for underrepresented and socioeconomically disadvantaged undergraduate students. 

The Pre-Law Scholars Program aims to enhance critical thinking skills, provide LSAT preparation, and guide participants through the law school admissions process.

7. Thurgood Marshall Summer Law Internship Program

Organized by the Thurgood Marshall College fund, this summer law internship program offers internships at law firms, corporate legal departments, and government agencies. It provides minority students with valuable work experience and mentorship.

8. Georgetown University Pre-Law Institute

Georgetown Law hosts a Center's Pre-Law Institute that introduces high school students to legal concepts, research, and writing skills. Participants engage in interactive coursework, visit local courts and law firms, and gain insight into the legal profession.


9. Street Law Legal Diversity Pipeline Program

Street Law collaborates with law firms to offer a Legal Diversity Pipeline Program for high school students from underrepresented backgrounds. The program focuses on legal education, mentorship, and exposure to legal careers to encourage diversity in the legal field.

10. Columbia University Summer Program in American Law

The Columbia University Summer Program in American Law offers high school students an immersive experience in legal studies. 

Participants explore legal methods, constitutional law, and legal writing through lectures, discussions, and practical exercises. If you’ve always dreamt of studying law at Columbia Law, this is an experience you don’t want to miss!

11. Duke Law Summer Institute on Law and Policy

Duke Law has one of the best programs, known as the Summer Institute on Law and Policy. It’s a comprehensive program that explores legal topics, fosters critical thinking and advocacy skills, and provides exposure to legal careers through interactive coursework and activities.

12. John Jay College Pre-Law Boot Camps 

The Pre-Law Boot Camp at John Jay College is an intensive week-long program that helps students build critical skills for law school and the LSAT. They focus on critical thinking, research, and writing, enhancing analytical abilities and legal writing. 

13. UCLA Mock Trial Summer Institute

UCLA Law offers a one-week program for high school students known as the Mock Trial Summer Institute. It’s geared towards students with an interest in the legal system and careers in law, particularly trial attorneys. 

You'll be trained by the UCLA Mock Trial Team, which has a strong record, and get insights into trial advocacy. It's a valuable opportunity to explore the legal field and improve your communication skills.

UCLA campus

14. NSLC Law and Advocacy Program

The NSLC on Law & Advocacy is a summer program where high school students become trial attorneys with the guidance of lawyers. They learn persuasive skills, work on real cases, and meet legal experts. 

It happens at Georgetown Law in Washington, D.C., and Yale University in New Haven, CT, during the summer, and it's a great opportunity for students interested in law and advocacy.

15. ACLU National Advocacy Institute

The ACLU National Advocacy Institute's High School Program gathers high school students (ages 15-18) from across the U.S. for a week of immersive learning in Washington, D.C. Students interact with ACLU experts, including lawyers and activists, to delve into civil rights and liberties advocacy.  

What Are the Best Pre-Law Summer Programs for High School Students?

Passionate about law as a high school student? Summer programs are a great way to gain valuable insights, mentorship, and exposure. This section will explore the best pre-law summer programs for high school students to help you choose the one that suits your needs. 

high school students in classroom

Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS) Program

The YYGS Program is globally diverse, bringing together students from around the world. This diversity encourages cultural exchange, the sharing of unique perspectives, and a broader understanding of global issues. It also helps students build international friendships and a global network.

YYGS offers courses on cutting-edge topics, going beyond traditional high school subjects. This exposure can spark intellectual curiosity, inspire passions, and influence academic and career choices.

Stanford Pre-Collegiate Summer Institutes

Stanford Pre-Collegiate Summer Institutes is a fantastic option for high school students for several compelling reasons. Firstly, the program offers a highly immersive and intellectually stimulating experience that allows students to engage with advanced coursework and topics in a university setting. 

This exposure to rigorous academic challenges can help students expand their knowledge, develop critical thinking skills, and prepare for the demands of college-level education.

Additionally, Stanford Pre-Collegiate Institutes provides access to top-notch faculty and resources, giving students the opportunity to learn from leading experts in their respective fields. The program encourages active participation, inquiry-based learning, and collaborative discussions, fostering a vibrant and enriching academic environment.

Georgetown University Hoya Summer High School Sessions

Georgetown's Hoya Summer High School Sessions offer diverse programs ranging from one to eight weeks, covering a wide array of subjects like politics, creative writing, and more. These programs help prepare students for college success and offer options like College Prep Courses, Summer College with university credit, and specialized Academies. 

The Academies cover topics such as American Politics, Artificial Intelligence, Law, and Business, providing an immersive college experience. It's an opportunity to meet students from around the world, earn college credit, and gain valuable skills for the future.

Columbia University Summer Program in American Law

Columbia Law School has been running the Summer Program in American Law for more than fifty years in partnership with the University of Amsterdam and Leiden University. It happens every July, switching between Amsterdam and Leiden each year (2023 will be in Amsterdam). 

Past students, many of whom are now successful professionals, have given it high praise. Participants receive a Certificate of Participation, and they can earn academic credits. It's taught by Columbia professors and provides an introduction to U.S. law. 

Beyond academics, it's known for its friendly atmosphere and close relationships between students and professors. The program was created with this community spirit in mind by Hans Smit.

Harvard Pre-College Program

The Harvard Pre-College Program is an intensive two-week summer program for outstanding high school students. It offers a diverse range of non-credit courses, allowing students to experience college life firsthand while learning in small classes with Ivy League scholars. 

Beyond academics, students engage in creative and social activities, fostering a balanced college-like experience. The program encourages students to explore their interests, practice healthy debate, and develop effective communication skills. 

It's a unique opportunity for students to discover their passions and gain valuable insights into college-level academics while living on the Harvard campus. Participants come from various backgrounds, representing languages, U.S. states, and countries worldwide, creating a diverse and stimulating learning environment.

What Are the Best Pre-Law Summer Programs for Minorities?

Promoting diversity and inclusion in the legal field is an important goal, and there are programs specifically designed for minority students. Here are some notable pre-law summer programs for minorities.

Teens working on laptop

SEO Law Fellowship

The SEO Law Fellowship supports minorities by offering targeted opportunities and resources to help them succeed in the legal profession. It provides a comprehensive summer internship program specifically designed for underrepresented students. 

By placing them in law firms, corporate legal departments, and government agencies, the program offers hands-on experience and exposure to the legal field.

Mentorship is a key component of the program. Each participant is paired with a legal professional who serves as a mentor throughout the program. These mentors offer guidance, support, and valuable insights into the legal profession. 

They provide advice on various aspects of the legal journey, including law school applications, selecting the right law school, and navigating the challenges of a legal career.

Legal Outreach Summer Law Institute 

The Legal Outreach Summer Law Institute is dedicated to empowering and supporting minorities who aspire to pursue a legal career. The program recognizes the importance of diversity in the legal profession and aims to provide underrepresented students with the tools and resources they need to succeed.

Through its initiatives and resources, the Legal Outreach Summer Law Institute works to level the playing field and create opportunities for minority students. It offers guidance, mentorship, and exposure to the legal field, helping participants gain valuable insights and develop the skills necessary for success.

Thurgood Marshall Summer Law Internship Program

The Thurgood Marshall Summer Law Internship Program supports minorities by providing them with valuable work experience and mentorship in the legal field. The program offers internships at law firms, corporate legal departments, and government agencies, giving minority students the opportunity to gain practical insights and develop their skills.

By offering these internships, the program helps minorities gain firsthand experience in the legal profession, allowing them to explore different practice areas and gain a deeper understanding of the day-to-day work of legal professionals. This experience is crucial for building their resumes and demonstrating their commitment and interest in pursuing a legal career.

Street Law Legal Diversity Pipeline Program

The Street Law Legal Diversity Pipeline Program is committed to supporting minorities in their pursuit of a legal career through various initiatives. Firstly, the program focuses on providing legal education to high school students from underrepresented backgrounds. 

It introduces them to basic legal concepts, rights, and responsibilities, equipping them with foundational knowledge that can inspire and empower them to consider a legal career.

Another significant way in which the Street Law Legal Diversity Pipeline Program supports minorities is by providing exposure to a wide range of legal careers. The program facilitates job shadowing opportunities, internships, and interactions with legal professionals from diverse backgrounds.

By gaining first hand exposure to different legal careers, minority students can explore various paths, discover their interests, and make informed decisions about their future educational and career goals.

FAQs: Pre-Law Summer Programs

​​Keep reading to explore the answers to frequently asked questions about pre-law summer programs.

1. Should I Take a Pre-Law Summer Program?

Yes, you should consider taking a pre-law summer program. It can provide valuable insights, enhance your understanding of the legal field, develop critical skills, and offer networking opportunities. It can help confirm your interest in a legal career and make informed decisions about your academic path.

2. What Do You Do in a Pre-Law Summer Program?

In a pre-law summer program, you can expect to participate in academic coursework, engage in mock trials or moot court competitions, hear from guest speakers, visit legal institutions, and more. 

3. What Are the Benefits of a Pre-Law Summer Program?

Benefits of a pre-law summer program include gaining insights into the legal field, developing critical skills, exploring legal disciplines, networking with professionals, receiving LSAT preparation, and making informed decisions about pursuing a legal career.

Final Thoughts

Overall, pre-law summer programs are fantastic opportunities for high school students to learn about the legal field and develop important skills. These programs offer various options, from Ivy League experiences to diversity-focused initiatives catering to different interests.

Whether you're sure about a career in law or simply curious, these programs help you explore your passions, engage in meaningful discussions, and prepare for success in law school and beyond. There are a number of great pre-law summer programs for high school students out there. 

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