Laws apply to nearly every aspect of life. A law degree educates a professional on how to navigate and understand the legal system. A law degree can prepare a professional for a number of jobs. Most people may think of occupations such as lawyer, but such degrees can also be applied towards positions like judge, law professor, or prosecutor. Many politicians have held a degree in law prior to being elected to office.
Law has many specializations that can be studied. These can include:
- Elder law
- Environmental law
- Intellectual property law
- International law
- Marine law
- Probate law
A law education typically requires 4 years of undergraduate coursework, followed by 3 years of law school. After the completion of law school, a bar examination must be taken and passed in order to receive a license. Prospective law students who expect to possibly relocate for a job should apply only to programs accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). Those who intend to stay in the same state that they are enrolling in can consider a program accredited only by the state. Generally speaking, programs accredited by the ABA are considered more highly among top tier employers.
Law programs vary in admission requirements, but can require:
- An interview
- Passing of the Law School Admission Test (LSAT)
- Undergraduate grade transcripts
- Work experience
All ABA-accredited programs require that applicants take the LSAT. Some programs may require specific scores for admission. After graduation, all states require that students take an examination before becoming a lawyer. The examination is commonly known as the bar examination, with the process referred to as being “admitted to the bar” or something similar.
The bar examination requires that students have a degree and have graduated from a program accredited by either the ABA or the state. Although each bar examination can vary by state, nearly all states include the Multistate Bar Examination and/or the Multistate Essay Examination as part of their individual bar examinations. An ethics examination may also be given. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that lawyers had an average salary of $110,950 in May of 2008. Judges earned $100,450 in the same period of time. However, salaries could vary widely because of the number of occupations that a law degree could be applied to. Private practice lawyers who were self-employed after graduation earned a considerable amount less than other lawyers for at least the first 9 to 15 months. After that length of time, the salaries between self-employed lawyers and all others evened out.