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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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


Law degrees

A typical juris doctor diploma, here from Suffolk University Law School
Founded in 1817, Harvard Law School is the oldest continuously operating law school in the United States.

United States

In the United States, law school is a postgraduate program that typically lasts three years and earns the student a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. Some schools in Louisiana concurrently award a Graduate Diploma in Civil Law (D.C.L.). To gain admission to a United States American Bar Association (ABA) approved law program, a prospective student must take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), and have a minimum four-year undergraduate (bachelor's) degree in any major. However, some law schools such as Cooley Law School (ABA Approved) in Michigan admits students with at least 60 undergraduate credits. Currently, there are 199 ABA-approved law schools.[1]


The typical degree to practice law in Canada is the Bachelor of Laws,[2] which requires previous college coursework and is 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).[3] 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.[4] 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 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,[5] the Law Society of Upper Canada's Skills and Responsibilities Training Program.[6] 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,[7] the American Bar Association has yet to recognize the degree as awarded by any Canadian institution.[8] 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.[9] (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.[10] Some universities have developed joint Canadian LL.B and American J.D programs, such as York University and New York University,[11] the University of Windsor and the University of Detroit Mercy,[12] and the University of Ottawa and Michigan State University program.[13]

England and English common law countries

In 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 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.[14][15][16]



In India, legal education has been traditionally offered as a three years 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.[17] 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 period 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 years 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 years integrated law degree with different nomenclature. The next in line was NALSAR university of law set up in 1998. 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. The Prestigious M.S. University has also started Baroda School of Legal Studies since 2005, which also offers 5 years integrated law course. It has a uniqueness of having computer applications and yoga & stress management as subjects. Another achievement in this field was the setting up of National Law University, Delhi at New Delhi, the first national law school of the capital. Notwithstanding the existing of numerous law colleges, NALSAR University of Law situated at Hyderabad is the sui generis in the field of legal education in India.

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.[18]


In Malaysia, the new law degree curriculum requires completion of 8 semesters in undergraduate degree in order for the law degree holder to underway pupillage or chambering in respected firms. Any overseas LL.B holder are required to obtain Certificate of Legal Practice in order for them to be admitted as an Advocates and Solicitors. However, local graduate with LL.B (Honours) are exempted from taking Certificate of Legal Practice as they have undergone professional training in their forth year of undergraduate study. The oldest school of law founded in Malaysia can be traced back in year 1972 from the establishment of Law Faculty, University of Malaya. Unlike other law programmes, the students work in a law office simulated environment. The students are provided with a practitioner’s office - like settings and are required to work in mock law firms. The programme structure has been designed in such a way that students will actually get a hands-on experience of legal practice to prepare them for the real legal world. National University of Malaysia or also known as UKM faculty of law was established in February 1984. The faculty began admitting students in the 1986/87 academic year. The objective of the faculty is to train lawyers to be competent both in practice as advocates and solicitors and to serve in the legal and judicial service and the private sectors. The curriculum was designed to include academic and practical aspects of the law with the addition of Islamic courses to reflect the increasing importance of Islamic law in Malaysia. Instead of sivil law students are required to extend their knowledge in islamic law.


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).


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. ‘Graduate School of Law’, which confers LL.M. and LL.D., exists, largely for a few students pursuing academic career (and partly for a policy career), ‘Law School’ with a much larger capacity was additionally introduced for students pursuing a legal career in 2004 by legislation according to theRecommendations of the Justice System Reform Council, and is now in its transitional stage. An LL.M. degree usually requires two-year study.


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.[18]

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 Assembly passed legislation introducing 'Law School', closely modeled on the American post-graduate system.[19] 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.[20] The first bar test to the lawschool graduates will be scheduled in 2012.


Taiwan was a colony of Imperial Japan when it was liberated by the United States in 1945 and given to the Republic of China. At that time a new legal system put in place. Since that time, the study of law has been an undergraduate pursuit resulting in a bachelor's degree. Foreigners are not allowed to practice law (no exception is made for citizens of the United States).

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, 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]


United States

Disputed accuracy of statistics given

Recently 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 distort their statistics to attract students.[21]

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.[22] 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.[23] 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. The Model Code of Professional responsibility mentions 'misleading' others in six separate place, but students are never mentioned.

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.[citation needed]

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.[21]

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[24] and the New York Times,[25] 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.[26] As more students choose where to work based on diversity rankings, firms face increasing market pressure to attract top recruits.[27]

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.[21]

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.[21]

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. [28] In addition, to become a licensed attorney in California, one need not have attended law school.[29] Yet California has 69 law schools (20 ABA-approved, 18 California-bar approved and 31 unaccredited schools).[30] 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 6 law schools in the Chicago Area (Loyola, DePaul, U. of Chicago, IIT Kent, John Marshall, and Northwestern), with 3 other laws schools in downstate Illinois (U. of IL, Southern IL U., and NIU). Graduates of Marquette, Wisconsin, Valparaiso, Notre Dame, and Indiana find few opportunities in their rural areas, and all feed into the Chicago market. [31] New York was recently described as having a 'glut' of law schools[32], 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).[33]

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. 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.

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 British lawyers must obtain before they may practice as solicitors or barristers.


In Australia, law schools such as the Sydney Law 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

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. ^ "Advocates Act, 1961". Bar Council of India. Retrieved 2009-06-10. 
  18. ^ a b 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]
  19. ^ Assembly okays shift to law schools from state bar exam, The Hankyoreh, Retrieved on July 4, 2007
  20. ^ Korean Law School List Announced, Korean Law Blog, January 31, 2008
  21. ^ a b c d Hard Case: Job Market Wanes for U.S. Lawyers -
  22. ^ Empirical Legal Studies: Distribution of 2006 Starting Salaries: Best Graphic Chart of the Year
  23. ^
  24. ^ Amir Efrati, You Say You Want a Big-Law Revolution, Take II, "Wall Street Journal", October 10, 2007.
  25. ^ Adam Liptak, In Students’ Eyes, Look-Alike Lawyers Don’t Make the Grade, New York Times, October 29, 2007,
  26. ^ 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
  27. ^ Thomas Adcock and Zusha Elinson, Student Group Grades Firms On Diversity, Pro Bono Work, "New York Law Journal," October 19, 2007,
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^ N.Y. Dean complains of 'glut' of law schools
  33. ^ 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


Up to date as of January 15, 2010
(Redirected to law school article)

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



law school

law schools

law school (plural law schools)

  1. a post-graduate academic program in which students are prepared for the practice of law
  2. a building which houses such an academic program

Simple English

A law school (also known as a school of law or college of law) is a school mostly for legal education.

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