About studying law
To study law and obtain a law degree is to learn the rules and regulations of what is considered to be true, fair and just. The law is what governs our society, regardless of our wealth or social standing.
Depending on where you complete your studies, your path toward becoming a practicing solicitor may look slightly different. What most law students have in common however is the fierce competition they will have to endure for both education placements and later employment.
It is very important to pursue a law degree for the right reasons. If you are entering the profession for the pay checks or the prestige, you will find completing your studies a tough challenge. In order to succeed, it’s important that you truly enjoy the reasoning and interpreting of complicated text and situations, which is necessary to complete the challenging curriculum of a law degree.
How to get a law degree
Studying a law degree in preparation for a legal career can look very different depending on where you choose to study. In some countries, mainly those influenced by the UK, it is common to start your legal studies with a bachelor degree in law, followed by one to two years of the Legal Practice Course. The latter program is where you can choose to specialize in a specific area of law such as corporate, environmental or criminal law. If your undergraduate degree is in something other than law, you can complete a conversion degree of one year (two years part time), followed by the Legal Practice Course.
The system in Germany, for example, is very similar. If you choose to undertake your legal studies in the United States however, your choice of undergraduate degree is fairly irrelevant. Common majors are history, international relations or sociology. Your first degree then leads you on to law school, provided that your grades are sufficient as competition is harsh. The one thing considered most important when entering law school is often that you be "well rounded" with a broad understanding and a keen interest in the world around you, sociology, history, and politics in order to succeed. In the US, as in many other nations, you must complete an official exam, which grants you the qualification to practice law in the national court system. This exam generally qualifies you to practice law, only in the significant country - not in foreign courts.
The most common career path to enter into as a graduate of a law degree, is that of the solicitor, or lawyer as it is more commonly called in the United States. Generally, solicitors are employed in a law firm, but other organizations such as large corporations and non-profits often employ their own legal staff. Law graduates are also particularly popular within business, due to their well-rounded understanding of society, and their flexible skill base. What is not to be forgotten however is the harsh competitiveness on the job market. There are many law graduates in training, and, to secure a good position, you will need a good law degree. With mediocre grades, you will have a hard time competing for the jobs you really want.
According to PayScale.com, laywers in the U.S. can make the following average salaries (based on years of experience):
International careers in law
What you must remember is that law is not as internationally transferable as other disciplines. Each country has its own laws, legal system and requirements for practicing law. Perhaps the most transferable branch of law is international and human rights law. This applies across borders and to many nations.
Want a more specialized law degree? Check out these sub-disciplines: