A law school
(also known as a school of
or college of law
) is an institution
specializing in legal
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
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
Toronto, Osgoode Hall Law School, Queen's University, The
University of Western Ontario, and University of
British Columbia have changed the name of their degree to that of a
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.
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
England, Australia, New Zealand and other English
common law countries, a law degree is usually an undergraduate
qualification, with the LL.B being the most
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.
In Hong Kong
generally follows the English common law system, an undergraduate
LLB is common, followed by a one or two year Postgraduate Certificate in
before one can begin a training contract
(solicitors) or a
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
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.
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.
Graduation from a Philippine law school constitutes the primary
eligibility requirement for the Philippine Bar Examination
national licensure examination for practicing lawyers in the
country. The bar examination is administered by the Supreme Court of the
during the month of September every year.
On July 3,
2007, the Korean National Assembly 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
to 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
In other common law countries the bar exam is often replaced by a
period of work with a law firm known as articles of
Disputed accuracy of statistics given
in the United
States, 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
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
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
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
New York Times
, the group
released data publicizing the numbers of African-Americans
, 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
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
addition, to become a licensed attorney in California, one need not have attended law school.
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 School.
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
UK and Europe
schools in the U.S. and Canada are
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
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".
countries, the term "law school" may be used, but it does not have
the same definition as it does in North
There are also sometimes legal colleges that provide vocational
training as a post-academic stage of legal education. One example is the
Law in the United Kingdom, which provides certain
professional qualifications which British lawyers must obtain
before they may practice as solicitors or barristers.
Australia, law schools such as the
School and the University of Melbourne 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
- The practice of law in Canada. FLSC.
Accessed September 16, 2008
- University of British Columbia. Requirements for Graduation and Evaluation of Work
(LL.B.). Accessed June 28, 2008
- Canadian law school concentrations, certificates and
joint-degree programs .
- Law Society of British Columbia PLTC .
- Law Society of Upper Canada Law Licensing
- University of British Columbia Board of Governors approves
request for LL.B to be renamed J.D. .
- University of Toronto J.D. admissions FAQ .
- University of Toronto. law. Accessed April 7, 2008. Queens University.
Memorandum, Law Students Society. Accessed
April 7, 2008.
- University of Toronto. Faculty of Law: Prospective Students. Accessed
April 7, 2008.
- NYU/Osgoode Joint LL.B/J.D. .
- University of Windsor / University of Detroit. J.D./LL.B.
Program. Accessed June 1, 2008.
- Michigan State University School of Law and the University of
Ottawa. Joint J.D. - LL.B. Degree Program. Accessed June 1,
- University of Sydney - Combined Degrees
- University of New South Wales sample combined law
degree 5 year timetable
- New Zealand sample conjoing degrees at Auckland
- 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,
- Assembly okays shift to law schools from state bar
Hankyoreh, Retrieved on July 4, 2007
- Korean Law School List Announced, Korean Law
Blog, January 31, 2008
- Hard Case: Job Market Wanes for U.S. Lawyers -
- Empirical Legal Studies: Distribution of 2006
Starting Salaries: Best Graphic Chart of the Year
- Amir Efrati, You Say You Want a Big-Law Revolution, Take II,
"Wall Street Journal", October 10, 2007.
- Adam Liptak, In Students’ Eyes, Look-Alike Lawyers Don’t Make
the Grade, New York Times, October 29, 2007,
- 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,
Angeles Times, October 11, 2007,
- Thomas Adcock and Zusha Elinson, Student Group Grades Firms On
Diversity, Pro Bono Work, "New York Law Journal," October 19, 2007,
- N.Y. Dean complains of 'glut' of law
- N.Y. State Law Schools
- Duncan Kennedy: Legal
Education and the Reproduction of Hierarchy, New Edition, New
York Univ Press, 2004, ISBN 0814747787