Best Pre-Law Summer Programs – 2024

January 17, 2024

pre law summer programs

Planning to become a lawyer? Although law school may currently feel like a foggy outline on the horizon, it’s never too early to start building skills and testing the waters before you commit. In addition to seeking out academic and extracurricular leadership positions, it’s important to spend time immersing oneself in the profession, whether it’s shadowing an attorney or studying the American legal system. As such, the best pre-law summer programs expose students to the wide range of possible careers and specializations available while enabling them to sharpen critical thinking, communication, and public speaking skills, learn to deliver arguments, and abide by legal ethics–all of which are essential to success in this highly visible and collaborative role. If you’re wondering where to start, be sure to check out our list of top pre-law summer programs for high school students below.

1) Georgetown Pre-College Online Program

  • Location: Virtual
  • Residential?: All courses are fully online.
  • Program Length: 1-week intensive, 2-week session, or 4-week session
  • Cost:$1,795 per course
  • Eligibility: High school students aged 13 and older
  • Application Deadline: varies depending on course, but is typically rolling until approximately a week before the course’s start date

If you’re a high school student, the flexibility of Georgetown’s Pre-College Online Program is unmatched. Students as young as 13 can take courses year-round, exploring budding curiosities and career paths or delving deeply into subject areas they are passionate about. Currently, there are seventeen courses available in as many subject areas, spanning the fields of medicine, STEM, business, marketing, law, government, psychology, leadership, and more.

All courses are delivered through a set of engaging and dynamic video lessons led by Georgetown professors, and involve approximately 20-30 hours of instruction and activities. During the course itself, you’ll be assigned a mentor with expertise in your course’s field who will support you through the material and be available to answer questions. There are no live meetings required, so everything can be completed on your own schedule. The curriculum is designed for active learning; all courses conclude with a Final Capstone Project, which allows you to demonstrate what you’ve learned.. For example, in Becoming a Surgeon: Skills, Specialties, and Diseases, students review case studies on abdominal conditions and observe procedures before completing videos and models related to abdominal anatomy and conditions. They’ll also learn how to tie surgical knots (have string and/or dental floss available!). In Becoming an Entrepreneur: An Inside Look at Innovation, students have the opportunity to take a business idea from ideation to a launch plan.

To apply, you’ll just need to provide basic personal information as well as a brief personal statement that discusses why you wish to enroll in your program of choice. It’s also possible to take more than one course at a time. Moreover, you’ll receive a Certificate of Completion for your college applications at the culmination of each course.

2) Penn Carey Law Pre-College Academy

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Residential?: Residential and commuter options available
  • Program Length: 3 weeks
  • Cost: Residential: $9,499; Commuter: $5,999
  • Eligibility: High school students aged 15-18
  • Application Deadline: Rolling, with a final deadline in June

Penn Carey Law’s goal is to provide high school students with a glimpse of the first-year law school experience. As such, they spend three weeks immersing themselves in a condensed version of first-year law school curriculum.

During the first two weeks of the program, students are introduced to the ins and outs of the American legal system. Accordingly, topics to be covered include contracts, torts/liability, criminal law, and constitutional law. In addition to developing legal reasoning, leadership, and communication skills, students engage in Socratic dialogue led by Penn faculty members. Then, in week three, students have the opportunity to explore specialized fields of law like environmental law and human rights & immigration law, among others. Virtual visits to law firms and courtrooms round out the experience.

These pre-law summer programs provide housing for non-local students and offer a commuter option for those in the Philadelphia area. Moreover, students who opt to live on-campus have access to weekend social activities and mentorship as well as the opportunity to explore the city and surrounding area.

Students are encouraged to apply as early as possible. Although the final deadline is in June, applications are evaluated on a rolling basis and programs fill quickly. Admission is selective; students must have a strong academic record and demonstrated leadership experience in order to be seriously considered.

3) Envision Intensive Law & Trial

  • Location: Palo Alto, CA
  • Residential?: Yes
  • Program Length: 10 days
  • Cost: $4,345-4,645
  • Eligibility: Current freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors
  • Application Deadline: First-come, first-served

Offered in conjunction with Stanford Law School, Intensive Law & Trial aims to immerse aspiring attorneys into the legal world.

All students begin with a foray into the theory and practice of law, learning ethics and legal rhetoric from seasoned professionals as well as Stanford Law faculty. Along the way, they practice myriad skills via simulations and workshops, such as preparing a case, understanding evidence, public speaking, and cross-examining witnesses. This preparation ultimately culminates in a mock trial simulation where students use their new knowledge to argue a full case from opening statement to closing argument.

In addition to career immersion, students develop their leadership abilities and gain insight into potential college majors. Moreover, the program isn’t all work and no play–students spend time exploring Palo Alto and San Francisco.

In order to apply to Envision’s pre-law summer programs, students must be pre-qualified through a nomination by an educator or advisor. However, it should be noted that students can also nominate themselves. All applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA as well as demonstrated leadership potential. They also must complete several short essays and provide a teacher recommendation.

Pre-Law Summer Programs for High School Students – Continued

4) ACLU National Advocacy Institute

  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Residential?: Yes
  • Program Length: 1 week
  • Cost: $2,700
  • Eligibility: Rising sophomores, juniors, seniors, and recent high school graduates aged 15-18
  • Application Deadline: May

For a week in July, talented and passionate high school students from across the country gather in Washington, DC to immerse themselves in social justice advocacy as well as civil liberties issues. Accordingly, they learn from lawyers, lobbyists, and activists who have dedicated their lives to defending civil rights.

Each day, students engage in electives and seminars that explore issue advocacy, legal strategy, and political decision-making. Additionally, they participate in A Day of Action on Capitol Hill, where they’ll lobby, rally, and advocate for real issues like immigration reform, systemic equality, and education censorship while learning about the ins and outs of political and advocacy campaigns.

To apply to these pre-law summer programs, students need to complete a general application as well as an essay. They’ll also need to submit a letter of recommendation.

Live in a state that belongs to ACLU’s Southern Collective? Consider checking out the week-long Southern Collective Institute High School Program, held in Atlanta, GA and Montgomery, AL.

5) Mock Trial Academy at Rhodes College

  • Location: Memphis, TN
  • Residential?: Yes
  • Program Length: 1 week
  • Cost: $1,800
  • Eligibility: Rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors
  • Application Deadline: April

Given that Rhodes runs one of the most successful collegiate mock trial programs in the country, it’s an excellent place to develop public speaking and presentation skills, both of which are essential for aspiring lawyers.

Each morning, students attend lectures that cover topics like advocacy theory, criminal trial rights, and evidence. Then, each afternoon, they practice skills like openings, closings, directs, and cross-examination. They’ll put these skills to good use on the final day of the program when they perform a full trial in front of the teaching staff as well as parents and friends.

Outside of academics and trial preparation, students attending these pre-law summer programs have the opportunity to explore Memphis. Past outings have included meetings with state and federal judges, tours of the National Civil Rights Museum, and famous Elvis sites. They’ll also dine nightly with fellow students and participate in evening social activities.

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6) Law: How to Think Like an Attorney at Georgetown University

  • Location: Online
  • Residential?: No
  • Program Length: 1-2 weeks
  • Cost: $1,495
  • Eligibility: Students aged 13+
  • Application Deadline: Rolling

For students interested in a remote option, Georgetown’s How to Think Like an Attorney course delivers a completely asynchronous experience. Over the course of either one, two, or four weeks, they hone their critical thinking and analytical skills while engaging in over 20-30 hours of course instruction and assignments.

A number of valuable topics will be explored, including evidence review and analysis, ethics, fact-based arguments, and intellectual vs. emotional decision making. Additionally, students review cases, practice debating arguments & separating fact from opinion, and explore various law careers. And along with receiving individual mentorship, students complete a final capstone project in which they play the role of a judge, delivering a court opinion in a case after reviewing evidence and witness testimony.

To apply to these pre-law summer programs, students must fill out a general application and submit an essay. Moreover, students interested in law and government can elect to add on Law & Government +Live, which covers topics like Think Like a Defense Attorney and Jury Trials: A Prosecutor’s Perspective.

Final Thoughts – Pre-Law Summer Programs for High School Students

Pre-law summer programs can be a valuable and rewarding start to your journey—whether you aspire to become an attorney, consultant, judge, or legal professor, law school will be the first stop after you complete your undergraduate degree. As such, taking the time now to understand the legal world’s unique demands while strengthening the critical thinking, reasoning, speaking, and writing skills necessary to be successful will only pay dividends later.

Looking for pre-law summer programs in your area? Consider checking out the following: