Legal education is the education of individuals who intend to become legal professionals or those who simply intend to use their law degree to some end, either related to law (such as politics or academic) or business. It includes:
In addition to the qualifications required to become a practicing lawyer, legal education also encompasses higher degrees such as doctorates, for more advanced academic study.
In many countries other than the United States, law is an undergraduate degree. Graduates of such a program are eligible to become lawyers by passing the country's equivalent of a bar exam. In such countries, graduate programs in law enable students to embark on academic careers or become specialized in a particular area of law.
In the United States, law is a graduate degree, which students embark upon only after completing an undergraduate degree in some other field (usually a bachelor's degree), and is considered to be a graduate or professional school program. The undergraduate degree can be in any field, though most American lawyers hold bachelor's degrees in the humanities and social sciences; legal studies as an undergraduate study is available at a few institutions. American law schools are usually an autonomous entity within a larger university.
Faculty of law is another name for a law school or school of law, the terms commonly used in the United States. This term is used in Canada, other Commonwealth countries and the rest of the world. It may be distinguishable from law school in the sense that a faculty is a subdivision of a university on the same rank with other faculties, i.e. faculty of medicine, faculty of graduate studies, whereas a law school or school of law may have a more autonomous status within a university, or may be totally independent of any other post-secondary educational institution.
In addition in some countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada and some states of Australia, the final stages of vocational legal education required to qualify to practice law are carried out outside the university system. The requirements for qualification as a barrister or as a solicitor are covered in those articles. See advocate for details of the requirements for qualification as an advocate in Scotland.
In Australia the situation is similar to Canada. Most reputable universities offer law as a graduate-entry course (LLB, 4 years), or combined degree course (e.g., BSc/LLB, BCom/LLB, BA/LLB, BE/LLB, 5–6 years). Some of these also offer a three-year postgraduate JD program. In 2008 the University of Melbourne introduced the Melbourne Model, whereby Law is only available as a graduate degree, with students having to have completed a three-year bachelor's degree (usually an Arts degree) before being eligible. Students in combined degree programs would spend the first 3 years completing their first bachelor degree together with some preliminary law subjects, and then spend the last 2-3 years completing the law degree. Alternatively, one can finish any bachelor degree, and providing their academic results are high, apply for graduate-entry into a 3-year LLB program. Some law schools are located at The Australian National University (ANU),Macquarie, Monash, UNSW, Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Queensland University of Technology, and the University of Queensland.
In Canada, the situation is somewhere between that of the U.S. and the majority of the rest of the world. The first-professional degree in law is the Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) or the Juris Doctor (J.D.) for common law jurisdictions and the Bachelor of Laws, Licenciate of Law or Bachelor of Civil Law for Quebec, a civil law jurisdiction. While technically most of Canada's common-law law schools will allow people to apply to study law after only two or three years of study in an undergraduate programme in another field, the vast majority of those who are admitted have already earned at least an undergraduate (bachelor's) degree. In the case of Quebec civil law degrees, students can be admitted after CEGEP. Some Canadian schools are considering transitioning from the LL.B. to J.D.
Generally, entry into common-law LL.B. programs in Canada is based almost exclusively on a combination of the student's grades as well as his score on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). This is, at the time of writing, different from Medical School admission, where factors such as community involvement, personal character, extracurricular activities and references are taken into account, with the admission test (MCAT) having only a small influence on the admission decision. However, Osgoode Hall Law School, McGill University and the University of Windsor law schools takes into account those personal factors. Quebec civil-law law schools do not require the LSAT, nor does Université de Moncton law school which offers the common-law LL.B. program in French only. In the case of the University of Ottawa's common-law law school, the LSAT is required for the program given in English but not for the program given in French. The requirement for the LSAT is likely because it is generally believed that a student who performs well on the LSAT will generally perform well both at law school as well as a legal practitioner. Most law schools receive far more applicants than they can accommodate; the examination offers admissions officers a simple and generally effective way to eliminate a large number of applicants from the pool.
Unlike the United States, all of Canada's law schools are affiliated with public universities, and are thus public institutions. There are no vast disparities in the quality of these institutions (as there are between tier 1 and tier 4 institutions in the US), and all are competitive entry schools. Many schools focus on their respective regions, as many graduates remain in the region in which the school is located. By virtue of the number of schools, Canadian law schools have stronger connections to their regions and provincial law societies than US schools. It is not unusual in some provinces for the majority of members of the Barreau (law society) to come from one or two schools in the area.
After completing the LL.B. or equivalent, students must article for one year. (In Quebec, "stage" is the equivalent to "articling".) This can be a challenge for those with lower grades, as there are often a shortage of articling positions and completion of articles is required to be able to practise law in Canada. Articling involves on the job training, for low pay, working under the supervision of a lawyer licensed by the Provincial Bar (e.g., the Law Society of British Columbia) who has been practising for a minimum of 5 years. After a year of articling and call to the bar, many students are hired by the same lawyer or firm for which they articled, some start their own independent practices while others choose to work for a different firm. Others may leave the private practice of law to work in government or industry as a lawyer or in a law-related position.
In Canada, the vast majority of lawyers do not seek a higher graduate degree in law, such as a Master of Laws, unless they intend to become a professor at a law school or they are practising lawyers taking an LL.M. program geared to practising lawyers to gain or expand knowledge in a specialized area of law.
Law in France is studied in a law school which is an entity within a larger university.
Legal education starts immediately after high school (there are no french Grandes écoles in law).
Unlike the United States, French law schools are affiliated with public universities, and are thus public institutions.
As a consequence, law schools are required to admit anyone holding the baccalauréat however the failure rate is extremely high (up to 70%) during the first two years of the "licence de droit".
There are no vast disparities in the quality of French law schools. Many schools focus on their respective city and region.
The law school program is divided following the European standards for university studies (Bologna process) :
The first year of the master program (M1) is specialized : public law, private law, business law, European and international law, etc
The second year of the master of law program (M2) can be work-oriented or research oriented (the students write a substantial thesis and can apply to doctoral programs - PhD Law -).
The second year is competitive (entry is based on the student's grades and overhall score and on extracurricular activities) and generally more specialized (IP law, contract law, civil liberties, etc).
You need to pass a specific examination to enter bar school (CRFPA, école du barreau). You must have successfully finished the first year of a Master of law (M1 or maitrise de droit) to be able to attend.
If you succeed, then after 18 months (school, practical aspects, ethics and internship) you will pass the CAPA exam and diploma(Certificat d'Aptitude à la Profession d'Avocat). You will also need to take the Oath.
In Hong Kong law can be studied as a four-year undergraduate degree (LLB) or the Common Professional Examination conversion course for non-law graduates. One must then pass the one-year Postgraduate Certificate in Laws (PCLL) currently offered at the University of Hong Kong and the City University of Hong Kong, before starting vocational training: a year's pupillage for barristers or a two-year training contract for solicitors.
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. 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. For example 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.
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.
The Japanese legal education system is driven more by examination than by formal schooling. The profession of barristers, known as bengoshi, is highly regulated, and the passage rate for the bar exam is around three percent. Prospective attorneys who do pass the exam must take it three or four times before passing it, and a number of specialized "cram schools" exist for prospective lawyers. After passing the bar exam, prospective barristers undergo a one-year training period at the Legal Research and Training Institute of the Supreme Court of Japan. During this period, the most capable trainees are "selected out" to become career judges; others may become prosecutors or private practitioners.
In 2004, the Japanese government passed a law allowing for the creation of three-year . The 2006 bar examination will be the first in Japanese history to require a law school degree as a prerequisite. In the past, although there has been no educational requirement, most of those who passed the examination had earned undergraduate degrees from "elite" Japanese universities such as the University of Tokyo or Kyoto University.
Since 2004, the J.D. degree is also awarded in Japan, the only civil law country to do so, where it is known as Homu Hakushi (法務博士).
Similar to the Japanese legal education system, the legal education in Korea has been driven by examination. The profession of barristers, is highly regulated, and the passage rate for the bar exam is around five percent. Prospective attorneys who do pass the exam usually take it two or three times before passing it, and a number of specialized "cram schools" exist for prospective lawyers. After passing the bar exam, prospective barristers undergo a two-year training period at the Judicial Research and Training Institute of the Supreme Court of Korea. During this period, the most capable trainees are "selected out" to become career judges; others may become prosecutors or private practitioners.
In 2007, the Korean government passed a law allowing for the creation of three-year law schools (법학전문대학원). According to the new law, the old system of selecting lawyers by examination will be phased out. The U.S.-style law schools will be a sole route to become a lawyer.
In February 2008, the Ministry of Education of Korea selected 25 universities to open law schools. The total enrollment for all law schools is capped at 2,000, which is a source of contention between the powerful Korea Bar Association, and citizen groups and school administrators. There is an uproar among the schools which failed to get the government's approval and even among the schools that did get the approval, there is dissatisfaction due to an extremely low enrollment number. Several law schools are permitted to enroll 40 students per year, which is far below the financially sustainable number. Once a student has graduated from law school he or she is expected to pursue admission to the bar in order to practice.
A number of other legal professions exist in Korea, such as patent attorneys (변리사), tax attorneys (세무사), scriveners(법무사), etc., entry to each of which is governed by a separate examination.
To become a lawyer in Serbia, students must graduate from an accredited faculty of law. Studies last for five years (ten semesters) in accordance to the Bologna Convention. To become a student of the faculty of law, a candidate must pass the admission test. Students are divided into full-time students and part-time students. The practical training for students is organized at courts of law, and local and international moot court competitions. A lawyer must pass the national bar examination to become an attorney, a judge, or a prosecutor.
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.
Graduation from a Philippine law school constitutes the primary eligibility requirement for the Philippine Bar Examinations, administered by the Supreme Court during the month of September every year.
In order to be eligible to take the bar examinations, one must complete either of the two professional degrees: The Bachelor of Laws (Ll.B.) program or the Juris Doctor (J.D.) program. Advanced degrees are offered by some law schools, but are not requirements for admission to the practice of law in the Philippines.
Legal education in the Philippines normally proceeds along the following route:
The professional degree granted by U.S. law schools is the Juris Doctor or Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.). Once a prospective lawyer has been awarded the J.D. (or other appropriate degree), he or she is usually required to pass a state bar examination in order to be licensed to practice as an Attorney at Law. Historically, as many as 32 states have recognized a diploma privilege method of bar admission which does not require sitting for a bar exam. As of mid-2007, Wisconsin is the only state which continues to recognize this privilege.
The Doctor of Jurisprudence or Juris Doctor (J.D.), like the Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), is a professional doctorate. The Doctor of Judicial Science (J.S.D.), and Doctor of Comparative Law (D.C.L.), are research and academic-based doctorate level degrees. In the U.S. the Legum Doctor (LL.D.) is only awarded as an honorary degree.
Academic degrees for non-lawyers are available at the baccalaureate and master's level. A common baccalaureate level degree is a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies (B.S.). Academic master's degrees in legal studies are available, such as the Master of Studies (M.S.), and the Master of Professional Studies (M.P.S.). Such a degree is not required to enter a J.D. program.
Foreign lawyers seeking to practice in the U.S., who do not have a Juris Doctor (J.D.), often seek to obtain a Juris Master (J.M.), Master of Laws (LL.M.), Master of Comparative Law (M.C.L.) or a Master of Jurisprudence (M.J.).
Legal education in the United States normally proceeds along the following route:
A number of law students apply for an optional judicial clerkship (less than 10% end up in such position), to be taken after law school and before legal practice. Some take the bar exam before a clerkship but this is not required, clerkships usually last a year but can be longer.
In most other countries, law is an undergraduate degree and graduates of such a program are eligible to become lawyers by passing the country's equivalent of a bar exam. In such countries, graduate programs in law enable students to embark on academic careers or become specialized in a particular area of law.
In most cases the degree awarded by American law schools is the Doctor of Jurisprudence or Juris Doctor(J.D.), degree. In contrast, the LL.B. degree is still the standard qualification in other common law jurisdictions, mostly in the Commonwealth of Nations. Other, higher, degrees that are awarded include the Master of Laws degree (LL.M.) and the Doctor of Juridical Science degree (J.S.D. or S.J.D.).
Once a student has graduated from law school he or she is expected to pursue admission to the bar in order to practice. Requirements for membership in the bar vary across the United States. Once admitted, most attorneys must meet certain Continuing Legal Education (CLE) requirements.