You have most likely encountered numerous movies and television shows where you see lawyers battling it out in the courtroom. You usually have a defense attorney and a prosecuting attorney. Depending on the show, you either root for the attorney who is trying to put the criminal in jail or the one who is trying to clear his name. Although lawyers/attorneys always come to mind when you hear about a law degree, there are several other professions that also need some type of degree or certificate in law. In fact, many graduates find themselves doing something other than practicing law.
Practicing law is often not what you might see on television. Lawyers spend much of their time writing and reviewing contracts, advising clients, researching reports and laws, explaining legal issues, and interpreting law and decisions handed down by other applicable courts.
Law, or legal studies, encounters almost every area of human life, touching upon issues relating to business, economics, politics, the environment, human rights, international relations and trade. It is telling that the very first academic degrees developed were all related to law. Law degrees are a useful way to prepare not only for specific legal careers, but for a broad range of professional roles, and for life in general.
There are lots of different types of law degrees available, varying according to where you study. In most countries, law degrees take the form of an LLB (Bachelor of Laws) which allows you to go on to take the national Bar or Law Society qualifying examinations, in order to become a practicing lawyer. In some countries, a BA in Law (BL) or a BSc in Law is in place instead. Often, these alternative names are used interchangeably. However, some universities differentiate between LLB and BA Law programs, with the former focusing exclusively on law and the latter allowing students to take course modules in other subjects, with a focus on humanities.
In the U.S. the degrees generally fall into one of the following categories: certificate programs for legal assistants, bachelor’s degrees for prelaw students, master’s degrees in law for non-lawyers, post J.D. law degrees for practicing lawyers, and the Juris Doctorate degree for aspiring attorneys at the doctorate level who often complete research who teach law at the university level.
While it is important to remember that the only degree path for students wishing to become licensed attorneys is the Juris Doctorate (JD) degree, yet students should also keep an open mind and explore all the new law degrees that have emerged. A non-JD law degree can still be a great career choice with less commitment.
However, if you’ve always pictured yourself in the courtroom battling for the rights of your client, you may want to attain your law degree and license. Yet, you don’t necessarily need to focus on criminal law since there are so many other possibilities such as: environmental law, bankruptcy law, maritime law, corporate law, civil rights law, entertainment law, and family law. Although that is not the complete list, rest assured you can find an area of law that matches your interests and passions.