Law school

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A typical juris doctor diploma, here from Suffolk University Law School

A law school (also known as a law centre or college of law) is an institution specializing in legal education, usually involved as part of a process for becoming a lawyer within a given jurisdiction.

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Law degrees


The oldest civil law faculty in Canada offering law degrees was established in 1848 at McGill University in Montreal, and the oldest common law faculty in Canada offering law degrees was established in 1883 at Dalhousie University in Halifax. The typical law degree required to practice law in Canada is now the Juris Doctor,[1] which requires previous university coursework and is similar to the first law degree in the United States. There is some scholarly content in the coursework (such as an academic research paper required in most schools).[2] The programs consist of three years, and have similar content in their mandatory first year courses. Beyond first year and the minimum requirements for graduation, course selection is elective with various concentrations such as business law, international law, natural resources law, criminal law, Aboriginal law, etc.[3] Some schools, however, have not switched from LL.B. to the J.D. – one notable university that still awards the LL.B is McGill University.

Given that the Canadian legal system includes both the French civil law and the Anglo-American common law, some law schools offer both an LL.B. or J.D. (common law) and a B.C.L., LL.L. or LL.B. (civil law) degree, such as McGill University, University of Ottawa and the Université de Montréal. In particular, McGill University Faculty of Law offers a combined civil law and common law program, which has been called "transsystemic."[4] At other faculties, if a person completes a common law degree, then a civil law degree can be obtained with only an extra year of study. This is also true for civil law graduates who wish to complete a common law degree.

Despite changes in designation, schools opting for the J.D. have not altered their curricula. Neither the J.D. or LL.B. alone is sufficient to qualify for a Canadian license, as each Province's law society requires an apprenticeship and successful completion of provincial skills and responsibilities training course, such as the British Columbia Law Society's Professional Legal Training Course,[5] the Law Society of Upper Canada's Skills and Responsibilities Training Program.[6] and the École du Barreau du Québec.

The main reason for implementing the J.D. in Canada was to distinguish the degree from the European counterpart that requires no previous post-secondary education,[7] However, in the eyes of the Canadian educational system, the J.D. awarded by Canadian universities has retained the characteristics of the LL.B. and is considered a second entry program, but not a graduate program.[8] (This position is analogous to the position taken by Canadian universities that the M.D. and D.D.S. degrees are considered second entry programs and not graduate programs.) Nevertheless, disagreement persists regarding the status of the degrees, such as at the University of Toronto, where the J.D. degree designation has been marketed by the Faculty of Law as superior to the LL.B. degree designation.[9]

Some universities have developed joint Canadian LL.B or J.D. and American J.D programs, such as York University and New York University,[10] the University of Windsor and the University of Detroit Mercy,[11] and the University of Ottawa and Michigan State University program.[12]

England and English common law countries

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In France, the legal education is a three tier system. The student may study for a LLB (licence de droit), then a LLM (master de droit) and, for those interested in Law theory, a PhD in Law (doctorat de droit).

Many French universities offers Law courses in department labelled as Research and Education Units (unité de formation et de recherche) and/or Faculties of Law or Law Schools.

A LLM-level is a prerequisite for some legal professions, but is combined with vocational education, such as the école nationale de la magistrature for judges and the Certificat d'aptitude aux fonctions d'avocat for advocates.


Law Degree in Indonesia consists of three tier systems. The first tier is the Degree of which carries the title of Sarjana Hukum/S.H. (Bachelor of Law). This can be obtained in 4–7 years after they enter Law Faculty straight from Senior High School.

The second tier varies depending on the legal specialties taken after the first tier. The general title for this tier is Magister Hukum / M.H. (Master in Law). Although it is also common to see other title for secondary tier such as Magister Kenotariatan / M.Kn. (Master in Notary) for Notarial professionals line of work. The second tier can be obtained normally in 1-2 year.

The third tier in Indonesian Law Degree is Doctor / DR. (Doctor in Law).

To work in legal professions of choice in Indonesia, a Bachelor Law Degree (S.H.) is obligatory. Graduate can pursue their career as Legal in-house counsel, Judge profession (requires admission and further training at Supreme Court Educational Center), Public Prosecutor (requires admission and further training at Public Prosecutor Educational and Training Center), other legal-related work and Advocate.

To become an Advocate, Law Graduate should attend an Advocate Special Course (1–2 months) and pass the Bar exam. The title Advocate can be obtained after a graduate passes the Bar exam and fulfill several obligation and requirements created by the Indonesian Advocates Association (PERADI).

List of some State School of Law in Indonesia

  • Indonesian University School of Law, Jakarta, DKI Jakarta
  • Gadjah Mada University School of Law, Jogjakarta, Jogjakarta
  • Diponegoro University School of Law, Semarang, Central Java
  • Padjadjaran University School of Law, Bandung, West Java
  • Airlangga University School of Law, Surabaya, East Java
  • Brawijaya University School of Law, Malang, East Java
  • Hasanuddin University School of Law, Makassar, South Sulawesi
  • Andalas University School of Law, Padang, West Sumatera


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West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, in Kolkata is one of the autonomous law schools in India

In India, legal education has been traditionally offered as a three-year graduate degree. However, the structure has been changed since 1987. Law degrees in India are granted and conferred in terms of the Advocates Act, 1961, which is a law passed by the Parliament both on the aspect of legal education and also regulation of conduct of legal profession.[13] Under the act, the Bar Council of India is the supreme regulatory body to regulate the legal profession in India and also to ensure the compliance of the laws and maintenance of professional standards by the legal profession in the country.

To this regard, the Bar Council of India prescribes the minimum curriculum required to be taught in order for an institution to be eligible for the grant of a law degree. The Bar Council also carries on a periodic supervision of the institutions conferring the degree and evaluates their teaching methodology and curriculum and having determined that the institution meets the required standards, recognizes the institution and the degree conferred by it.

Traditionally the degrees that were conferred carried the title of LL.B. (Bachelor of Laws) or B.L. (Bachelor of Law). The eligibility requirement for these degrees was that the applicant already have a Bachelor's degree in any subject from a recognized institution. Thereafter the LL.B. / B.L. course was for three years, upon the successful completion of which the applicant was granted either degree.

However, upon the suggestion by the Law Commission of India and also given the prevailing cry for reform, the Bar Council of India instituted upon an experiment in terms of establishing specialized law universities solely devoted to legal education and thus to raise the academic standards of legal profession in India. This decision was taken somewhere in 1985 and thereafter the first law University in India was set up in Bangalore which was named as the National Law School of India University (popularly 'NLS'). These law universities were meant to offer a multi-disciplinary and integrated approach to legal education. It was therefore for the first time that a law degree other than LL.B. or B.L. was granted in India. NLS offered a five-year law course, upon the successful completion of which an integrated degree with the title of "B.A.,LL.B. (Honours)" would be granted.

Thereafter, other law universities were set up, all offering five-year integrated law degrees with different nomenclature. The next in line was National Law Institute University set up in Bhopal in 1997. It was followed by NALSAR university of law in 1998. The Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University in Delhi offered a five-year integrated law degree course of LL.B (Honours) from 1998 and subsequently from 2007 started to award the B.A.,LL.B / B.B.A.LL.B (Honours). The Mysore University School of Justice set up by the University of Mysore in Mysore offered a five-year integrated law degree course of B.A.,LL.B (Honours) from 2007. The course for three years LL.B. is also regularized in University of Delhi as an option for post graduation after the completion of graduation degree. The National Law University, Jodhpur offered for the first time in 2001 the integrated law degree of "B.B.A, LL.B. (Honours)" which was preceded by the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences offering the "B.Sc., LL.B. (Honours)" degree. Gujarat National Law University established in Gandhinagar also offers LL.B.

However, despite these specialized law universities, the traditional three-year degree continues to be offered in India by other institutions and are equally recognized as eligible qualifications for practicing law in India. Another essential difference that remains is that while the eligibility qualification for the three year law degree is that the applicant must already be a holder of a bachelor's degree, for being eligible for the five years integrated law degree, the applicant must have successfully completed Class XII from a recognized Boards of Education in India.

Both the holders of the three-year degree and of the five-year integrated degree are eligible for enrollment with the Bar Council of India upon the fulfillment of eligibility conditions and upon enrollment, may appear before any court in India.[14]


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Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, which generally follows the English common law system, an undergraduate L.L.B. is common, followed by a one or two year Postgraduate Certificate in Laws before one can begin a training contract (solicitors) or a pupillage (barristers).


In Iran, the legal education has been influenced both by civil law and Islamic Shari'ah law. Like many countries, after high school, one can enter the law school. The first law degree is LL.B. It takes about four years to get LL.B. The first graduate program in law is LL.M. It takes about two to three years to earn an LL.M. The LL.M. is a mix of course work in a specific field of law and a dissertation. The Ph.D. in law is the highest law degree offered by some law schools. It takes about 5–7 years depending on the school as well as the students. The faculty of law in Shahid Beheshti University (formerly known as Iran's National University) and the faculty of law and political sciences at University of Tehran are the top two law schools in Iran.


See Legal education#Japan.


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Law degree programs are considered graduate programs in the Philippines. As such, admission to law schools requires the completion of a bachelor's degree, with a sufficient number of credits or units in certain subject areas.[14]

Graduation from a Philippine law school constitutes the primary eligibility requirement for the Philippine Bar Examination, the national licensure examination for practicing lawyers in the country. The bar examination is administered by the Supreme Court of the Philippines during the month of September every year.

As of 2011 the bar examinations were held during November.

The University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Civil Law was the first secular faculty, and hence the oldest law school in the Philippines.


In Serbia, prospective students are required to pass an admission test for enrollment in a law school. The legal education is a three tier system – 4-year bachelor's degree studies, 1-year Master of Law and 5-year doctoral studies. The Belgrade Law School is the most distinguished and largest by capacity in Serbia. Courses are offered in Serbian and English.

South Korea

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On July 3, 2007, the Korean National Assembly passed legislation introducing 'Law School', closely modeled on the American post-graduate system.[15] Moreover, naturally, since March 2, 2009, 25 (both public and private) 3-year professional Law Schools that officially approved by Korean Government, has been opened to teach future Korean lawyers.[16] The first bar test to the lawschool graduates was scheduled in 2012.

Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka to practice law, one must be admitted and enrolled as an Attorney-at-Law of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. This is achieved by passing law exams at the Sri Lanka Law College, which are administered by the Council of Legal Education and spending a period of six months under a practicing attorney of at least 8 years standing. To undertake law exams students must gain admission to the Sri Lanka Law College and study law or directly undertake exams after gaining a LL.B. from a local or foreign university.[17]


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In Taiwan, law is primarily studied as an undergraduate program resulting in a Bachelor of Law (B.L.).[18] Students receive academic rather than practical training.[18] Practical training is arranged after the individual passes the lawyer, judge, or prosecutor exams.

A degree in law (bachelor, master or doctor) is a pre-requisite for Taiwan's bar examination. According to Ministry of Examination figures, the pass rate for the 2011 exam was 10.6%. Since the bar exam is conducted in Chinese, a native level of language fluency is expected.

A non-citizen may take the Attorney Qualification Examination.[19] According to Articles 5 and 20 of the Regulations on Attorney Qualification Examination (Bar Exam), non-citizens are allowed to participate in the bar examination with a degree in law earned in Taiwan. Non-citizens are not allowed to sit in the prosecutor or judge examinations unless they are naturalized citizens of Taiwan. Once a non-citizen is approved to practice law in Taiwan, he or she must abide by all statutes related to the legal practice, Codes of Legal Ethics, and the Articles of Incorporation of the Bar Association to which they are members.[20]

United States

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Founded in 1817, Harvard Law School is the oldest continuously operating law school in the United States.

In the United States, law school is a postgraduate program usually lasting three years and resulting in the conferral upon graduates of the Juris Doctor (J.D.) law degree. Some schools in Louisiana concurrently award a Graduate Diploma in Civil Law (D.C.L.). To gain admission to a law school that is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA), applicants must usually take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT),[21][22]:33 and have an undergraduate (bachelor's) degree in any major.[22]:38 Currently, there are 199 ABA-approved law schools.[23] There currently are five online law schools that are unaccredited by the ABA but registered by the State Bar of California. Non-ABA approved law schools have much lower bar passage rates than ABA-approved law schools.,[24] and do not submit or disclose employment outcome data to the ABA.

According to a study by labor economists Michael Simkovic and Frank McIntyre, a law degree increases the present value of lifetime earnings in the U.S. by $1,000,000 compared to a bachelor's degree.[25][26][27][28][29] According to the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national average salary for lawyers in 2012 was above $130,000.[30] Salaries vary by geography, with higher average salaries in big cities—especially New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Los Angeles—and lower salaries in rural areas. An unpublished table produced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that unemployment rates among experienced lawyers are lower than those for most high-income occupations.[31] BLS data also suggests that lawyer employment has grown slightly faster than other occupations, with lawyers comprising a growing share of the work force over the last decade.

However, not all recent law graduates work as lawyers. According to Simkovic and McIntyre's study of U.S. Census Bureau data, around 40 percent of U.S. residents with law degrees do not practice law.[25] Law graduates are disproportionately represented in leadership positions in business and government.[25] The National Association for Legal Career Professionals produces an annual report summarizing the employment of recent graduates of U.S. law schools at a single point in time, 9 months of graduation. Employment at that point is typically around 90 percent, although from 2009 to 2011, the numbers have been lower, at around 86 to 88 percent.[32] Approximately 2 percent of graduates were employed in non-professional jobs.[32] Approximately 75 to 85 percent work in jobs classified by NALP as "JD required" or "JD preferred", and another 5 percent work in other professional jobs.[32] However, a law degree increases earnings, even including those who do not practice law.[25]

Postgraduate and professional study

Some schools offer a Master of Laws (LL.M.) program as a way of specializing in a particular area of law. A further possible degree is the academic doctoral degree in law of Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) (in the U.S)., or the Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) in Canada, or the Ph.D. in Law from European or Australasian universities.

In addition to attending law school, many jurisdictions require law school graduates to pass a state or provincial bar examination before they may practice law. The Multistate Bar Examination is part of the bar examination in almost all United States jurisdictions. Generally, the standardized, common law subject matter of the MBE is combined with state-specific essay questions to produce a comprehensive bar examination.

In other common law countries the bar exam is often replaced by a period of work with a law firm known as articles of clerkship.[citation needed]

Alternative legal education systems

UK and Europe

While law schools in the U.S. and Canada are typically post-graduate institutions with considerable autonomy, legal education in other countries is provided within the mainstream educational system from university level and/or in non-degree conferring vocational training institutions.

In countries such as the United Kingdom and most of continental Europe, academic legal education is provided within the mainstream university system starting at the undergraduate level, and the legal departments of universities are simply departments like any other rather than separate "law schools". In these countries, the term "law school" may be used, but it does not have the same definition as it does in North America. The same is true for private Law Schools, e.g. in Germany two private law schools have been established, Bucerius Law School in Hamburg and EBS Law School in Wiesbaden which are termed law schools but follow the usual German path of legal education.

There are also sometimes legal colleges that provide vocational training as a post-academic stage of legal education. One example is the College of Law in the United Kingdom, which provides certain professional qualifications lawyers in England and Wales must obtain before they may practice as solicitors or barristers.


In Australia, law schools such as the Melbourne Law School, the Adelaide Law School, and the Sydney Law School have emphasised a combination of the British and American systems. However, other universities such as the University of New South Wales, the Australian National University and Monash University are known for their practical work.[33]

List of law schools

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See also


  1. The practice of law in Canada. FLSC. Accessed September 16, 2008
  2. University of British Columbia. Requirements for Graduation and Evaluation of Work (LL.B.). Accessed June 28, 2008
  3. Canadian law school concentrations, certificates and joint-degree programs [1].
  4. Where Law and Pedagogy Meet in the Transsystemic Contracts Classroom [2]. Accessed April 26, 2013.
  5. Law Society of British Columbia PLTC [3].
  6. Law Society of Upper Canada Law Licensing Process
  7. University of British Columbia Board of Governors approves request for LL.B to be renamed J.D. [4].
  8. University of Toronto. law. Accessed April 7, 2008. Queens University. Memorandum, Law Students Society. Accessed April 7, 2008.
  9. University of Toronto. Faculty of Law: Prospective Students. Accessed April 7, 2008.
  10. NYU/Osgoode Joint LL.B/J.D. [5].
  11. University of Windsor / University of Detroit. J.D./LL.B. Program. Accessed June 1, 2008.
  12. Michigan State University School of Law and the University of Ottawa. Joint J.D. – LL.B. Degree Program. Accessed June 1, 2008.
  13. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Major Legal Systems in the World Today: An Introduction to the Comparative Study of Law, by René David, John E. C. Brierley, Contributor René David, John E. C. Brierley, Edition: 2, (Published by Simon and Schuster, 1978)ISBN 0029076102, ISBN 978-0-02-907610-1 [6]
  15. Assembly okays shift to law schools from state bar exam, The Hankyoreh, Retrieved on July 4, 2007
  16. Korean Law School List Announced, Korean Law Blog, January 31, 2008
  18. 18.0 18.1 Chang-fa Lo, Driving an Ox Cart to Catch Up With the Space Shuttle: The Need For and Prospects of Legal Education Reform in Taiwan, 24 Wis. Int'l L.J. 41 (2006).
  19. Attorney Regulation Act, Article 45
  20. Attorney Regulation Act, Article 46
  21. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  23. LSAC List of Law Schools
  24. National Conference of Bar Examiners, Bar Examination and Admissions Statistics
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 Michael Simkovic & Frank McIntyre, The Economic Value of a Law Degree
  26. Steven M. Davidoff, Debating, Yet Again, the Worth of Law School, N.Y. TIMES DEALBOOK, July 18, 2013
  27. Dylan Matthews, Ignore the haters. Law school is totally worth the cash, WASH. POST, July 18, 2013
  28. Jordan Weissmann, Is Law School a Good Deal After All?, THE ATLANTIC, July 19, 2013
  29. Brian Leiter, Reflections on The Economic Value of a Law Degree and the Reactions to It, Brian Leiter's Law School Reports, July 30, 2013
  30. United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Lawyers
  31. Tableau, Who's got the Biggest Salary
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 National Association for Law Placement
  33. For a discussion on the practical training in Australian law schools see Margaret Castles and Anne Hewitt 'Can a law school help develop skilled legal professionals' (2011) ALTERNATIVE LAW JOURNAL; 36 (2) 2011: 90–95. [7](subscription required)

Further reading