Law Degrees

The Advantages To Earning A Law Degree

Earning a law degree provides individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to propel personal, educational, and professional goals. A Juris Doctor (JD) law degree program is the most popular field of study for law students with an interest of practicing law within the United States. Many colleges and universities have developed online law degree programs to meet the needs of students managing family and work responsibilities while pursuing their degree. Online degree programs provide virtually the same educational opportunities and experiences as their traditional, brick and mortar counterparts. Online courses consist of groups of 25 students who have 24 hour access to class information, materials, and instruction. Online courses provide students with an added flexibility in courses scheduling and one on one interactions, via Internet chats, with instructors and other students. Online law degree programs not only provide the opportunity to increase educational experiences necessary for future career success but may also be one of the easiest paths to a degree.

What Students Learn Through An Online Law Degree Program

Online law degree programs prepare students for employment as lawyers with innovative and highly specialized courses. Lawyers are required to earn a Juris Doctor (JD) degree in order to practice law. This degree requires students to complete a four year undergraduate degree program and an additional three years of law school. Preparation for Juris Doctor programs may begin with a two year associate’s degree in legal studies, criminal justice, criminal justice administration, or a related field. A two year program provides students with the basic skills and knowledge in courses like English, foreign language, public speaking, government, philosophy, history, economics, mathematics, and computer science which are necessary to advance to higher degree programs. Associate degree programs also provide students with specialized courses pertaining to a student’s preferred field of study.

Students may advance to a bachelor degree program in pre-law, political science, criminal justice, English, communication, legal studies, criminal justice, or a related field. Bachelor degree courses for students who major in pre-law include: English, principles of sociology, introduction to psychology, American politics, introduction to philosophy, introduction to law and legal writing, current legal issues, legal aspects of business, litigation, the art of negotiation, negotiation fundamentals, analytical reasoning, legal writing research, alternative dispute resolution, constitutional law, comparative international law, administrative law for business, public contracting, facilitation fundamentals, medication fundamentals, communication and conflict, issues in conflict management, ethics and neutrality, contemporary social problems, and ethics.

Graduates who obtain a bachelor degree may advance to law school and obtain their Juris Doctorate or complete their master’s degree in a related field. Courses at a master’s level in the discipline of legal studies in the field of law and public policy include: law and ethics; law and public policy; law, civil liberties and the Constitution; law and legal methods; law and police process; law, punishment and corrections; law and criminal conduct; law and civil litigation; law, culture, and society; law, justice, and the family; law and the international community; law and administration agencies; law and forensic applications; law and the environment; and law, business, and the workplace.

Graduates who complete a master’s degree program may advance to Juris Doctor programs. Courses at the doctorate level vary per individual school requirements. First year law school students participate in general law courses like: contracts, criminal law, legal writing, public interest, civil litigations, torts, criminal law, regulations, and patents. Students in their final years of law school generally specialize their degree in fields like corporate, tax, or labor law and then culminate studies by completing a practical experience within a law firm or clinic.

Many advanced law students pursue joint degree programs in fields like business administration or public administration to further specialize their education. All JD programs provide students with the information necessary to qualify for bar examinations. Upon successful completion of educational, examination, and licensing requirements, students are generally qualified to practice law, perform research, or teach.

Prospective Jobs For Law Degree Graduates

A law degree provides graduates with the training necessary to advance to careers as a lawyer. Jobs for law school graduates are expected to be competitive. Graduates who have superior academics and graduate from highly regarded schools are predicted to find the best job opportunities. Additionally, many graduates often specialize in specific fields of law including: environmental law, bankruptcy, family law, insurance, intellectual property, criminal law, probate, or civil law and continue their education are expected to find increased job prospects. Graduates may work within their own practices independently or with a partner or groups of partners in small or large law firms.

Many lawyers work for corporations and large organizations as legal advisors or in house counsel. Many law graduates find work as managers and upper level executives within less traditional sectors like: administrative, managerial, or supervisory positions within banking, insurance, and real estate industries or government agencies. Some graduates may find employment within temporary staffing agencies which hire lawyers on an “as needed” term. Lawyers with advanced training and increased specializations often find employment as researchers or instructors within facilities or colleges and universities.

Salary Range For Graduates With A Law Degree

Salaries for graduates with law degrees vary and depend upon geographic factors, area of specialization, experience, and type and size of the organization of employment. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reports that most graduates who obtain their JD earn generally $74,980 to $163,320 annually. Graduates employed for larger companies and firms generally have higher earnings than those who work within governmental agencies. Lawyers beginning their own practices generally earn significantly less than those who work within well established practices with earnings ranging from $68,500 to $108,500 annually. Lawyers employed within the business sector often earn $69,100 annually. Lawyers who work within firms, businesses, and other agencies are generally salaried and receive benefits like health and life insurance as well as contributions to retirement plans.

Career Outlook And Advancement Opportunities For Graduates With Law Degrees

Graduates with law degrees gain the skills and knowledge necessary to base lucrative careers upon. The BLS expects employment of lawyers to increase by 13 percent through 2018 at an average rate in comparison to other occupations. Factors like population growth and increased business activities are anticipated to increase demand for lawyers who handle legal transactions, civil disputes, and criminal cases. Additionally, graduates who specialize in legal services like healthcare, intellectual property, bankruptcy, corporate and security litigation, antitrust law, and environmental law are anticipated to have increased job opportunities and growth. Factors like economic downturns may adversely affect the number of jobs available to law degree graduates as businesses face budget constraints and alternatives like mediation and dispute resolution are sought rather than litigation.

Despite economic down turns, the BLS predicts job growth for lawyers employed by businesses, corporations, and most levels of government to be concentrated and relatively stable. Lawyers beginning their own practices are expected to have slow growth as establishing a new practice is highly competitive particularly due to increasingly complex laws and the cost of maintaining or advancing specialized training while facing larger, more established law firms. Advancement for law graduates is expected to be favorable. Many beginning lawyers work as associates with experienced lawyers and judges until they are made partners within a firm or enter into a self owned law practice. As lawyers gain experience, specialize training, and continue education, many are nominated or elected to judgeship positions, work as faculty or administrators within law schools or universities, or are promoted to administrative or managerial positions within large corporations.

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