What Is a Law Degree?
Are you thinking about pursuing a Juris Doctor, a Master’s of Law, or a Doctor of Juridical Science? First, you will need a bachelor’s degree. And there’s no such thing as a “bachelor’s degree in law.” You can certainly earn your bachelor’s in something law-ish, such as Legal Studies or Pre-law, but the truth is that it really doesn’t matter what you get your undergraduate degree in — as long as you have it.
Once you have your B.S. or B.A., you will need to earn your Juris Doctor (J.D.). This is the law degree that you will need in order to become a lawyer. And you may start working as a lawyer once you have it.
Of course, there are those ambitious types who keep going. You can go on to earn your Master’s of Law Degree (LL.M.), which will allow you to specialize in a certain area (e.g., criminal, bankruptcy, corporate). You can also go on to earn your Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.).
I’m not aware of any school offering an online S.J.D. program. But recently, schools have begun to offer online J.D. and LL.M. programs. But these are very much a new concept, one that the legal world hasn’t exactly accepted with open arms. The American Bar Association accredits law schools, and none of the schools that offer an online J.D. have ABA accreditation.
Executive coach Roy Cohen says that an online J.D. from a non-accredited school is “a waste of money.”
Linda Doyle, a hiring partner at McDermott Will & Emery says that no large firm hires online J.D. alumni and that she has never seen an online J.D. mentioned in the 3,000 resumes her firm sees each year.
Is Law a Good Major / Degree for Me?
Are you a good communicator? Do you want to work long hours, often in solitude? (Yes, lawyers do make a lot of money, but they earn it by working an obscene amount of hours.)
Remember that real life lawyers are nothing like the ones we see on TV. You may spend more time in a cubicle than a courtroom. Before you make any decision, go job shadow a few lawyers, and ask them the hard questions.
High School Classes Needed for a Law Degree in College:
- 4 English Credits
- 3 Math Credits
- 3 Science Credits
- 3 Social Study Credits
- At least 2 Foreign Language Credits
- If your high school offers the following courses, take advantage!
- AP Psychology
- AP United States History
- AP United States Government and Politics
- AP English Language and Composition
- AP Comparative Government and Politics
Common Law Courses in College:
- Civil Procedure
- Constitutional Law
- Contracts and Sales
- Legal Analysis, Research, and Communication
Similar Degree Programs You Might Want to Explore:
- Business Administration: the study of how to plan, organize, and control a company in order to earn a profit
- Criminal Justice: the study of how society responds to criminal behavior
- Entrepreneurial Studies: a course of study that prepares students to recognize and take advantage of business opportunities
- Finance: the study of money management
- International Relations: a branch of political science that focuses on foreign affairs
- Political Science: the study of government and politics
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of lawyers is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations over the next few years. However, the competition for jobs will be strong, as there are more qualified graduates than there are job openings.
Most lawyers work in private or corporate legal offices. Some work for the government. There are many different kinds of lawyers: corporate lawyers, legal aid lawyers, environmental lawyers, family lawyers, litigation lawyers, criminal lawyers, tax lawyers, intellectual property lawyers, securities lawyers, and government counsels.