At the outset, you should understand that the ABA, which accredits law schools doesn't really care. If you doubt me, read the ABA article "Preparing for Law School" at http://www.abanet.org/legaled/prelaw/prep.html. Instead, the ABA suggests a core skill-building approach to your education that includes eight basic areas: Analytic / Problem Solving Skills, Critical Reading, Writing Skills, Oral Communication / Listening Abilities, General Research Skills, and Task Organization / Management Skills. The last area, Public Service and Promotion of Justice, in my opinion, are really closer to personal character and values, which one develops as a result of life experiences and maturation.
But the point is this: the ABA believes (and what they think about this subject is pretty important) that the student should focus on skills that prepares him/her for law school and law practice. And clearly, the core skills involve your ability to read, analyze, communicate (both orally and in writing), listen and manage your workload. And as a practicing lawyer who has been out of law school for a while, I absolutely agree that these skills are critical to the practice of law. Further, I continue to develop and hone these skills every day I go to work.
So, instead of defining yourself as a prelaw by the major you choose, I suggest that you choose an academic curriculum that will help you to develop the above core skills. Certainly, political science, philosophy and other liberal arts majors can do this. But so can engineering, accounting, marketing and many other undergraduate majors. It all depends on what you do with the major. More importantly, it depends on what you do with your available time during your four years or so of undergraduate education
Most undergraduate majors have a fairly large percentage of electives in terms of the overall curriculum. After you finish your basic required courses, you have all kinds of opportunities to select courses that will help you develop the core skills necessary to succeed in law school and law practice.
You probably already know that most law schools begin their acceptance decision with a student's grades and LSAT score. These two criteria are simply the most important when it comes to getting into law school. So, any undergraduate major that helps you get the highest GPA and LSAT score would probably be your best bet. At the same time, before you jump into that degree in "Basketweaving", you should also understand that law school admissions committees tend to equalize the "easier" majors with the "harder" majors. In other words, a 3.2 GPA in Mechanical Engineering may be just as acceptable as a 4.0 in English.
As I have written in other blog posts, you should also consider the possiblity that you won't actually end up going to law school. Therefore, you would probably be better served with an undergraduate major that can help you find a job, just in case. Further, there are certain majors that are extremely complimentary to a law degree. For example, an accounting degree can be a great compliment to a law degree if you want to practice corporate law. An engineering degree can be very useful to future patent attorneys.
But the bottom line is that instead of focusing on the major, focus on the above core skills. The following are some suggestions to help you do just that (I've organized them a bit differently than than the ABA has, because I see the skills more along the lines of a continuum than as discrete skills):
Reading, Writing and Researching: As part of your law school preparation, you should read, read and read some more. Read the most dense, incomprehensible books that you can find. Practice reading until you can navigate almost anything. I suggest that you add the ABA website to your browser favorites. It includes great information on current events in the practice of law.
I also suggest that you periodically visit a law school library and browse (you will need to get permission to do that, but I found that most law school librarians are more than willing to help). Begin to read cases, in order to both learn to navigate them, and to get a feel for how legal writing is organized. It will also help you see some of the available research materials. And it will help you to prepare yourself for law school. I descrbe this "due diligence" in my book, Law School Labyrinth- A Guide to Making the Most of Your Legal Education (Kaplan Publishing, March 31, 2009).
Read op-ed pieces and read legal articles, such as those found in law journals. This will help you to begin to understand the substantive information but will also help you see how and what lawyers write.
Reading a great deal will also help you to begin to develop your writing skills. Simply, most writers learn to write by reading voluminously. Start writing every day; a journal is a great way to accomplish this. Or, consider blogging. It doesn't have to be about the law, it only needs to be about something you are interested in and that requires some thought and analysis. It may also help you to develop your research skills.
Analytical, Logical and Problem Solving Skills: Analysis is simply the skill of skill of rationally and logically thinking your way through a problem. Certainly, there are formal logic courses available- consider taking one. But reading through a book on logic ("Logic for Lawyers" is a good one) can give you the basic foundation. And chances are, you probably already understand intuitively a great deal about how to logically analyze something or construct a logical argument (most of us learn about logic when dealing with an illogical opponent in an argument). A key skill in logic is the ability to identify hidden assumptions.
In my book "Law School Labyrinth- A Guide to Making the Most of Your Legal Education (Kaplan Publishing, April 2009), I describe how assumptions work in arguments and how to analyze the basic structure of logical arguments. Another good book, which may help you understand the process is "Getting to Maybe". I suggest you read a number of different "law school" books well before you start law school. They will help you get an overview of the often labyrinthian maze that law school can become, especially because in most cases, no one really explains the process to you.
Finally, exercise your logical skills through recreation. Do crossword puzzles and other puzzles in order to sharpen your mind. Engage in friendly debate (you might want to preface it by explaining that it's law school prep- but get used to the idea that many people won't get it or you, especially after you become a law student; if the process works on you, you will begin to think and analyze in a dramatically different way that most people won't understand). Consider visiting a courtroom to see lawyers in action. If your school has a debate team, consider joining.
This is also a great time to consider giving something back to your community. Volunteer in one or more of the many outstanding public service organizations, including your church. Don't do something because it will look good on your law school application; do it because you believe in it.
I wish you the very best in your legal studies and career. And if you are thinking about law school, be sure and pick up a copy of my book, Law School Labyrinth- A Guide to Making the Most of Your Legal Education (Kaplan Publishing, March 31, 2009).