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A law school (also known as a school of law or college of law) is an institution specializing in legal education.

Law degrees

United States

Law school in the United States is a postgraduate level program which typically lasts three years and results in the awarding of the Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. Some schools in Louisiana concurrently award the Graduate Diploma in Civil Law (D.C.L.). In order to be admitted to a United States American Bar Association (ABA) approved law program, a prospective student must take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) and have graduated with a minimum four-year undergraduate (bachelor's) degree in any major. Currently, there are 199 ABA-approved law schools.


The typical degree to practice law in Canada is the Bachelor of Laws, which requires previous college coursework and is very similar to the first law degree in the United States, except there is some scholarly content in the coursework (such as an academic research paper required in most schools). 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. Some universities such as the University of Torontomarker, Osgoode Hall Law Schoolmarker, Queen's Universitymarker, The University of Western Ontario, and University of British Columbiamarker have changed the name of their degree to that of a J.D.. Despite changes in designation, schools opting for the J.D. have not altered their curricula. Neither the J.D. or LL.B. alone are 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, the Law Society of Upper Canada's Skills and Responsibilities Training Program. and the École du Barreau du Québec. Although 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, the American Bar Association has yet to recognize the degree as awarded by any Canadian institution. 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. (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. Some universities have developed joint Canadian LL.B and American J.D programs, such as York University and New York University, the University of Windsor and the University of Detroit Mercy, and the University of Ottawa and Michigan State University program.

England and English common law countries

In Englandmarker, Australia, New Zealandmarker and other English common law countries, a law degree is usually an undergraduate qualification, with the LL.B being the most common. In Australia & New Zealand, law may be taken as a Combined Law degree with another major as a five-year joint degree, instead of possibly six years for both degrees separately.



Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, which generally follows the English common law system, an undergraduate LLB 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).


India provides two form of law degrees. One is a three year LL.B. degree which can only be attained after the completion of an undergraduate degree. The other is a five year B.A. LL.B. (Hons.), which is a hybrid degree which can be attained after schooling.


In Japan, a law degree is usually an undergraduate qualification, with the LL.B. being the most common. To practice law, passing the National Bar Examination and attending judicial training (or work experience as legislator, government official, professor, etc.) are required in Japan. While ‘Graduate School of Law’, which confer LL.M. and LL.D., has long been for few students pursuing academic career (partly for policy career), ‘Law School’ with much larger capacity was additionally introduced for students pursuing legal career in 2004 by legislation according to Recommendations of the Justice System Reform Council, and it is now in its transitional stage. LL.M. degree usually requires two-year study.


Law degree programs are considered graduate programs in the Philippinesmarker. 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.

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.

South Korea

On July 3, 2007, the Korean National Assemblymarker passed legislation introducing 'Law School', closely modeled on the American post-graduate system. 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. The first bar test to the lawschool graduates will be scheduled in 2012.


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 Doctorate of Laws (LL.D.) in Canada, or the Ph.D. in Law from European or Australasian universities.

In addition to attending law school, in many jurisdictions a graduate of a law school is required to pass the state or provincial bar examination in order to practice law. The Multistate Bar Examination is part of the bar examination in almost all United Statesmarker 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.


United States

Disputed accuracy of statistics given

Recently in the United Statesmarker, critics have emerged questioning the forthrightness of some law schools in providing prospective students with accurate facts regarding alumni job placement and compensation rates, suggesting that certain law schools may be distorting their statistics in order to attract students to their institutions.

In particular, many law school graduates - particularly at lower-ranked schools - suggest that their schools utilized correct, but misleading, statistics to attract students. An example of this would be citing the mean graduate salary, instead of the median; while the median salary of law graduates in the U.S. is approximately US$62,000, the mean could be inflated somewhat by a relatively small concentration of graduates earning starting salaries well above the median. For example, the starting salary at nearly all large law firms in several cities across the country in 2008 is US$160,000 plus bonus. Also, it is very likely that even median salary statistics are incorrect, because students who are unemployed, working temporary jobs or have a low salary are less likely to submit a salary report to the school.

A common response to this criticism, however, is that it simply reflects the reality of competitiveness in legal education and in the legal market. With a limited number of top positions available, prospective law students should be circumspect about the employment opportunities that will await them after graduation—especially if they plan on attending a lower-ranked school.

At the same time, however, students at prestigious, highly regarded institutions often have a variety of options available. This discrepancy can be seen as a simple function of supply and demand, with the number of newer (and thus lower-ranked) law schools proliferating in recent years. A similar difficulty may be encountered by graduate students in other fields, although the aforementioned lack of accurate information about post-graduate employment may exacerbate the problem for law students.

Low ratio of female and minority partners

Even when students are able to find jobs at the top-paying law firms, some say that minority law school graduates have difficulty advancing their careers. The law student organization Building a Better Legal Profession generated controversy for showing the lack of female and minority partners in large private firms. In an October 2007 press conference reported in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, the group released data publicizing the numbers of African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian-Americans at America's top law firms. The group has sent the information to top law schools around the country, encouraging students to take this demographic data into account when choosing where to work after graduation. As more students choose where to work based on the firms' diversity rankings, firms face an increasing market pressure in order to attract top recruits.

Increase in law school tuition fees

Furthermore, there has been some controversy regarding the recent increases in law school tuition fees, at a time when salaries in the legal services sector are growing much more slowly than the U.S. inflation rate.

Some attribute these issues to insufficient regulation of law schools by the American Bar Association. The total number of Juris Doctor degrees awarded has been on the rise in recent years, at least partially due to the accreditation of new schools by the ABA.

Continued increase in number of law schools

The United States continues to open new law schools at a time when it already has more than 900,000 lawyers, risking an excess of supply. In addition, to become a licensed attorney in Californiamarker, one need not have attended law school. Yet California has 69 law schools (20 ABA-approved, 18 California-bar approved and 31 unaccredited schools). California serves as the headquarters for some of the more well-known online law schools, such as California School of Law and Concord Law Schoolmarker. There are 11 law schools in the Greater Chicago Area (Loyola, DePaul, NIU, U of IL, U. of Chicago, Notre Dame, IIT, John Marshall, Marquette, Valparaiso, Northwestern). New York was recently described as having a 'glut' of law schools, with a total of 15 in the state (Albany, Brooklyn, Cardozo, Columbia, Cornell, Fordham, Hofstra, New York Law School, NYU, Pace, St. John's, Syracuse, Touro (Fuchsberg), and public SUNY Buffalo and CUNY Queens College).

Alternative legal education systems

Many potential law students cannot attend a residential law school due to work or family commitments, not to mention the financial burden of tuition and travel. An online law school may be a good option for such students. For a balanced discussion of the pros and cons of an online legal education, and a comparison of the pedagogy and First Year Law Student Exam results of the online law schools "registered" (not "accredited") with the California State Bar, go to

UK and Europe

While law schools in the U.S.marker and Canadamarker 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 Kingdommarker 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.

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


In Australia, law schools such as the Sydney Law Schoolmarker and the University of Melbournemarker have emphasised a combination of the British and American systems, prominently known in Australia for their prestige and proliferate employment rate. However, other universities such as the University of New South Wales, the Australian National University, Monash University and Deakin University are known for their intensive and practical work.

List of law schools

See also


  1. [1]
  2. The practice of law in Canada. FLSC. Accessed September 16, 2008
  3. University of British Columbia. Requirements for Graduation and Evaluation of Work (LL.B.). Accessed June 28, 2008
  4. Canadian law school concentrations, certificates and joint-degree programs [2].
  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 J.D. admissions FAQ [5].
  9. University of Toronto. law. Accessed April 7, 2008. Queens University. Memorandum, Law Students Society. Accessed April 7, 2008.
  10. University of Toronto. Faculty of Law: Prospective Students. Accessed April 7, 2008.
  11. NYU/Osgoode Joint LL.B/J.D. [6].
  12. University of Windsor / University of Detroit. J.D./LL.B. Program. Accessed June 1, 2008.
  13. Michigan State University School of Law and the University of Ottawa. Joint J.D. - LL.B. Degree Program. Accessed June 1, 2008.
  14. University of Sydney - Combined Degrees
  15. University of New South Wales sample combined law degree 5 year timetable
  16. New Zealand sample conjoing degrees at Auckland University
  17. 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, 9780029076101[7]
  18. Assembly okays shift to law schools from state bar exam, The Hankyoreh, Retrieved on July 4, 2007
  19. Korean Law School List Announced, Korean Law Blog, January 31, 2008
  20. Hard Case: Job Market Wanes for U.S. Lawyers -
  21. Empirical Legal Studies: Distribution of 2006 Starting Salaries: Best Graphic Chart of the Year
  23. Amir Efrati, You Say You Want a Big-Law Revolution, Take II, "Wall Street Journal", October 10, 2007.
  24. Adam Liptak, In Students’ Eyes, Look-Alike Lawyers Don’t Make the Grade, New York Times, October 29, 2007,
  25. Henry Weinstein, Big L.A. law firms score low on diversity survey: The numbers of female, black, Latino, Asian and gay partners and associates lag significantly behind their representation in the city's population, according to a study, Los Angeles Times, October 11, 2007,,1,661263.story?coll=la-headlines-california
  26. Thomas Adcock and Zusha Elinson, Student Group Grades Firms On Diversity, Pro Bono Work, "New York Law Journal," October 19, 2007,
  31. N.Y. Dean complains of 'glut' of law schools
  32. N.Y. State Law Schools

Further reading

  • Duncan Kennedy: Legal Education and the Reproduction of Hierarchy, New Edition, New York Univ Press, 2004, ISBN 0814747787

External links

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