Law seems to be one of those fields that promise a successful career, a bit of fame and knowledge in a complex field, which reaches all sides of human life. Also known as “Legal Studies”, Law deals with issues and conflicts related to society and morality.
It is said that the first academic degrees were Doctorates in Law, studied in schools of Law that were founded back in the 11th century. Today, the study of Law is made up of highly organized systems, institutions, and subjects.
You can specialise in one of the fields below. These are some of the most common available branches of Law, but the knowledge may be applied in the judiciary, legislative and executive institutions, the military and the police, bureaucracy or the civil society.
- International Law
- Business Law
- European Law
- Criminal Law
- Legal Studies
- Patent & Intellectual Property Law
- Civil & Private Law
- Public Law
Begin your legal career with a Bachelor of Law (LLB)
The first university study degree in Law is the Bachelor's. In Australia, Canada, the USA and Hong Kong it is called Bachelor of Law (LLB). At universities from other countries, you may find it as a B.A. (Bachelor of Arts) in Law.
The LLB is an undergraduate degree that usually covers core modules and specialisations. The focus points of the programme usually are:
- Criminal Law – regulates social conduct that is threatening, harmful or endangering to people
- Contract Law – deals with a set of written obligations between two or more people/companies
- Constitutional/Administrative Law – regulations that focus on the society’s well-being
- Equity and Trusts – property and common law
- Land Law – refers to land use
- Tort Law – the cause is not necessarily a crime, but also a consequence of negligence
- European Law – conduct within the borders and regulations of the European Union (EU)
Some of the courses are combined with subjects from other fields of study and some of them may also take one extra year to complete, like it happens in England and Wales.
If you wish to have a more focused specialisation, you may choose an associate degree, that includes law and politics, human rights, entrepreneurship, environmental management, public policy, theological studies, or others.
After you graduate with an LLB degree, you have more choices to specialise, research, and study Law. You also have the option to enrol in a Senior Status LLB, which is a two-year programme open to students who have an undergraduate degree from another field but Law.
If this sounds like something you would be interested in pursuing, then you should take into consideration the following top universities:
- University of Dundee, in Dundee, United Kingdom
- The University of Law, in London, United Kingdom
- The Open University UK, an online university
- Southern New Hampshire University, in Manchester, United States
- Western Sydney University, in Campbelltown, Australia
Specialise further with graduate and postgraduate Law studies
You may enrol in a Master of Laws (LLM) programme and choose whether you focus on coursework or research. Admission to such a course requires a degree in Law or significant professional experience.
In the USA, the LLM is a postgraduate degree and a professional study after the Juris Doctor (JD) degree. Students mostly chosoe it in order to specialise in estate planning, taxation, intellectual property, and other fields. The course lasts for one year.
The Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL/CPE) is a conversion course for graduates available in the UK, which prepares students for their future careers. Those who enrol in a GDL have degrees earned at institutions from other countries and apply to the programme based on a certificate received from the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority). On your way to a career as a solicitor in Law in the UK, you can also earn a Law Practice Course (LPC) or the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC).
The Juris Doctor (JD) in Law is the equivalent of an LLM for the US and Japan and in some Law schools from Canada, Australia, and Hong Kong. In the US, in order to apply for a JD programme, students need to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). However, the degree is professional and stands between the Master and the PhD levels.
Even though a JD study degree costs a bit more than an LLM, it is more suitable for graduate students. The programme is full-time, and it is research-intensive.
Even more, students earn the qualification to work as Law professors in the academic world. This degree is used to meet the eligibility requirements for the state bar examination.
Law degree careers
The US Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) estimated that, in the country, employment of lawyers will increase by 4% between 2019 to 2029. As a lawyer, you can work in specialised firms, corporations, or government agencies. You also have the option to work as a freelance legal consultant or open your own office.
Popular law jobs and salaries
Let's take a look at some of the most common career options for Law graduates. We've also included the average annual salaries in the United States according to Glassdoor:
- Law Clerk – 55,900 USD
- Legal Consultant – 89,400 USD
- Legal Analyst – 51,900 USD
- Lawyer – 107,500 USD
- District Attorney – 115,000 USD
So, regardless if you decide to work in the private or public sector, you will develop skills of communication, critical thinking, and reasoning. And, with a degree in Law, you also get to improve the lives of others and help them with professional advice and counselling.