Those who aspire to become lawyers will earn a Juris Doctor (JD), which they can work toward at one of the nation's many accredited law schools.
Law school basics
Students can expect their studies to take about three years to complete. However, the number of years needed depends on the path they are on and the type of program in which they are enrolled.
Types of law school programs
When people think of earning a degree in law school
, they are probably thinking of the JD, a professional doctorate credential that prepares individuals for careers practicing law. JD students take courses in legal subjects such as civil procedure, constitutional law, property law and legal writing. However, the JD is not the only graduate degree students can pursue while enrolled in law school.
Those who wish to continue their legal studies after earning a JD can pursue a Master of Laws. This advanced credential, commonly known as an LLM, allows students to acquire more specialized legal knowledge and skills in a variety of areas. Although it depends on the law school, students can typically earn an LLM with a focus on such areas as environmental law, global law, and technology.
The Doctor of Juridical Science, or SJD, is another advanced degree offered at many law schools. Students pursue this research credential after the completion of their LLM studies. It is designed for individuals who wish to go onto careers as legal scholars, such as professors and legal scientists.
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Law school requirements
If individuals wish to earn a JD from a law school that has received accreditation from the American Bar Association, they must take the Law School Admission Test, or LSAT. This assessment, which consists of five sections, each lasting 35 minutes, plays a key role in the law school admissions process.
While more advanced graduate programs such as the LLM and SJD have their own requirements depending on the law school, it is essential to have first earned a bachelor's degree and a JD.
After law school
Before graduates of JD programs can practice law, they must take one or more written exams and be admitted to their individual state's bar. After some time practicing law, attorneys may be able to become judges.
However, practicing law and becoming a judge are not the only professions law school graduates can assume. Individuals with a background in law can work in a variety of fields, such as business, education and government. Law school graduates could even become president: Bill Clinton and Barack Obama each hold a JD.
Find the right law school
Whether individuals want to pursue a JD or an SJD, they will need to start researching potential law schools. GraduateGuide.com features a search engine that can help prospective students identify law schools that match their specific preferences.
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