Law Degree

Provides information on a law degree including what do lawyers do, educational requirements and specializations.

When we think about people who have law degrees, we envision lawyers arguing cases in courtrooms full of drama and publicity, grilling witnesses and arguing with the judge. In reality, most lawyers, or attorneys, rarely see the inside of a courtroom, and those that do are typically involved in more common court proceedings such as DWI (driving while intoxicated and theft cases. For every hour spent in the courtroom, many more are spent doing research, conducting interviews, or writing documents in preparation for litigation. Being an attorney requires excellent communication skills, but it also involves a great deal of paperwork and red tape. Some people with a law degree don’t practice law at all. A law degree opens many doors in the legal field.

What Is Law?

In its most basic sense, the law is the rules and regulations included in our constitution and legal codes. They provide the parameters under which people, businesses and other entities interact lawfully. Law might be as simple as indicating what the speed limit is on a certain street, or as complicated as regulating income tax for an entire nation.

What Do Lawyers Do?

Most often people with a law degree pursue careers as lawyers. A lawyer, also called an attorney, has extensive training to help them understand and interpret the laws of countries, states, and municipalities. Their primary role is to provide guidance to others in regards to what is lawful and what the punishment should be if someone breaks the law.

A criminal lawyer works with the court system, either as a prosecutor who pursues charges against people and organizations accused of breaking the law, or as a defense attorney who helps those accused represent themselves in the legal process. But there are many other areas in which lawyers can specialize including:

  • Tax & Probate
  • Entertainment
  • Intellectual Property & Technology
  • Corporate
  • Bankruptcy
  • Stock market & Finance
  • Civil Liberties
  • Environmental
  • Labor
  • Family
  • Health Care
  • Personal Injury

  • This is a list of the most common areas of specialization. The law touches almost every aspect of our lives, from work, to school, to buying a home or running a business. Those that are drawn to the study of law can often find an area of specialization that fits with other personal interests. In addition, many consultants, politicians, investment bankers, and professors have law degrees. The analytical and communication skills needed to obtain a law degree are also key qualifications for many other jobs.

    What Type Of Schooling Is Required For A Law Degree?

    A law degree is an advanced degree that is pursued after obtaining a 4-year degree. Some schools offer bachelor degrees in pre-law but nearly any major is acceptable. Some of the more common 4-year degrees held by those in law school include political science, business, English, criminal justice, international relations, and accounting.

    Entry into law school is dependant on above average performance as an undergraduate, and an acceptable score on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Different schools will require different scores, and the most prestigious institutions only accept the top percentage of applicants.

    Students typically attend law school for 3-4 years, if taking full class loads. At the end of their studies, they earn a juris doctor JD) degree or LLB (in Europe) and are then allowed to take a written bar exam for the state(s) or regions in which they plan to practice.

    Courses covered in law school include:

  • Civil Procedure
  • Contracts
  • Criminal Law
  • Legal Research & Writing
  • Constitutional Law

  • In addition, students can select from courses in their areas of focus or specialization. Advanced degrees are available but are not needed for most entry-level positions.

    Resources For Jobs Requiring Law Degrees

    American Bar Association
    Website of the ABA with job listings for attorneys and other useful career information