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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 professional doctorate degree known as a Juris Doctor. Students embark upon their legal studies only after completing an undergraduate degree in some other field (usually a bachelor's degree). The undergraduate degree can be in any field, though most American lawyers hold bachelor's degrees in the humanities and social sciences; legal studies at the undergraduate level are 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 Germany, 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 most universities offer law as an undergraduate-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 Juris Doctor (JD) program. Bond University in Queensland runs three full semesters each year, teaching from mid-January to late December. This enables the Bond University Law Faculty to offer the LLB in the usual 8 semesters, but only 22⁄3 years. They also offer a JD in two years. The University of Technology, Sydney will from 2010 offer a 2-year accelerated 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 (JD). Alternatively, one can finish any bachelor degree, and providing their academic results are high, apply for graduate-entry into a 3-year LLB program. Australian Law Schools include those at the University of New England, Australian National University, La Trobe University, Flinders University, Bond University, Macquarie, Monash, Deakin, UNSW, University of Tasmania, Adelaide, Victoria University, Sydney, Melbourne, Queensland University of Technology, the University of Queensland, the University of Western Australia and the University of Canberra.
The first-professional degree in law is the Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) or 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. Admittance to an LL.B. or J.D. program requires some previous undergraduate education, although, unlike ABA-approved J.D. programmes in the United States, a completed undergraduate degree is not necessarily required: most Canadian common law schools will accept exceptional applicants with only two to three years of previous university study. In practice, however, the vast majority of those who are admitted have already earned at least an undergraduate (bachelor's) degree. The change in academic nomenclature redesignating the principal common law degree as a J.D. rather than an LL.B., currently completed or under consideration at a number of Anglophone Canadian schools, has not affected the level of instruction. In the case of Quebec civil law degrees and the transsystemic LL.B/B.C.L. program at McGill University, students can be admitted after college.
Generally, entry into common-law LL.B. or J.D. programs in Canada is based primarily on a combination of the student's undergraduate grades as well as their score on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Factors such as community involvement, personal character, extracurricular activities and references are sometimes taken into account, but the LSAT remains far more determinative of admission than comparable standardized tests for other disciplines, such as the MCAT or GMAT. However, McGill, which enrolls all of its law students in a bilingual program of study, does not require applicants to write the LSAT; and the Universities of Calgary and Windsor are well known for assigning additional weight to extra-curricular factors. Quebec civil law schools do not require the LSAT, nor does the Université de Moncton École de droit, which offers the common-law J.D. program in French only. In the case of the University of Ottawa's common law school, the LSAT is required for the program given in English, but not for the program given in French.
Unlike the United States, all of Canada's law schools are affiliated with public universities, and are thus public institutions, a practice that is generally held to have helped reduce disparities in the quality of students and instruction between them. Since there is a limited number of positions in each law school's annual admissions, entry to all Canadian law schools is intensely competitive: most law schools receive far more applicants than they can accommodate. Most schools focus on their respective regions, and many graduates remain in the region in which the school is located, though the relatively uniform quality of the law schools affords greater geographic mobility to graduates. Still, it is typical in many provinces for the majority of members of the Barreau (law society) to come from one or two schools in the area.
After completing the Juris Doctor, 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 practice law in Canada. Articling involves on-the-job training, at a lower introductory salary, under the supervision of a lawyer licensed by the Provincial Bar who has been practising for a minimum of 5 years. After ten to sixteen months of articling and call to the bar, attorneys are free to practice in their own right: many are hired by the same lawyer or firm for which they articled, while some choose to begin independent practices or accept positions with different employers. Others may leave the private practice of law to work in government or industry as a lawyer or in a law-related position. The great majority of Canadian lawyers do not elect to seek further academic degrees in 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). 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, e.g., a PhD in Law).
The second year is competitive (entry is based on the student's grades and overall score and on extracurricular activities) and generally more specialized (IP law, contract law, civil liberties, etc.).
Students must pass a specific examination to enter bar school (CRFPA, école du barreau). They must successfully finish the first year of a Master of law (M1 or maitrise de droit) to be able to attend.
If they succeed, then after 18 months (school, practical aspects, ethics and internship) they then take the CAPA exam and diploma(Certificat d'Aptitude à la Profession d'Avocat). Successful students also take the Oath in order to practice law.
In Hong Kong law can be studied as a four-year undergraduate degree Bachelor of Laws (LLB), a two-year postgraduate degree (Juris Doctor), 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 (HKU), Chinese University of Hong Kong and City University of Hong Kong, before starting vocational training: a year's pupillage for barristers or a two-year training contract for solicitors.
The move to a four-year LLB was recent and, in the case of HKU, was aimed at shifting some of the more theoretical aspects of the HKU PCLL into the LLB, leaving more room for practical instruction.
Pre-1987, Indian legal education was traditionally offered as a three years graduate degree. Today, 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 applicants 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 National Law Institute University set up in Bhopal in 1997. It was followed by 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 (Official Website) at New Delhi, the first national law school of the capital.
However despite these specialized law universities, the traditional three-year degrees 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 board 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.
However with effect from December 2010 all fresh law graduates or those who have already cleared their law graduation but have not yet enrolled with the bar council must clear a bar examination to be entitled to practice before courts or tribunals in India.
Many moot court competitions are also held in India. The "Surana and Surana Moots" is among the oldest, largest, and one of the most prestigious moot court projects in India which has students from India & SAARC countries (for international moots) regularly participating. Since the mid-90's every year the law firm Surana and Surana International Attorneys, have hosted, administered & sponsored over a hundred moot court competitions in partnership with India's leading law schools.
The Japanese Ministry of Justice opened the University of Tokyo Faculty of Law in 1877 (changed to Imperial University in 1886). To matriculate to the University of Tokyo, students had to finish ten to fifteen years of compulsory education; acceptance was therefore available to only a small elite. The law program produced politically-dependable graduates to fill fast-track administrative positions in government, also known as high civil servants (koto bunkan), and to serve as judges and prosecutors.
Private law schools opened around 1880. These lacked the government funding given to the University of Tokyo, so the quality of education there lagged behind. Students only had to pass an examination to matriculate to private law schools, so many of them had not completed middle school. The private law schools produced a large portion of private attorneys because their graduates were often ineligible to apply for government positions.
The Imperial University Faculty of Law was given supervisory authority over many private law schools in 1887; by the 1920s, it promulgated a legal curriculum comprising six basic codes: Constitutional Law, Civil Law, Commercial Law, Civil Procedure, Criminal Law, and Criminal Procedure. The same basic structure survived in Japanese legal education to the end of the twentieth century.
Prior to the implementation of the "law school system" in 2004, the legal education system was driven more by examinations than by formal schooling. The passage rate for the bar exam was historically around three percent, and nearly all those who sat for the exam took it several times. A number of specialized "cram schools" trained prospective lawyers for the exam, and these schools remain prevalent today. After passing the bar exam, prospective barristers were required to train for 16 months at the Legal Research and Training Institute of the Supreme Court of Japan. The training period has traditionally been devoted to litigation practice and virtually no training is given for other aspects of legal practice, e.g., contract drafting, legal research. 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 Diet passed a law allowing for the creation of graduate level law school law schools (法科大学院 hōka daigakuin?) that offer a J.D., or Hōmu Hakushi (法務博士). The 2006 bar examination was 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, Kyoto University or Hitotsubashi University. With this new law school system came a new bar exam, with a 40–50% passage rate which is capped by a numerical quota. Applicants are now limited to taking the exam three times in a five-year period. Despite the much higher bar passage rate with the new exam, due to the quotas, approximately half of Japanese law school graduates will never be admitted to practice. The new system also reduced the apprenticeship period at the Legal Research and Training Institute to one year.
A number of other law-related professions exist in Japan, such as patent agents (benrishi), tax accountants (zeirishi), scriveners, etc., entry to each of which is governed by a separate examination. It should be noted that attorneys ("bengoshi"), being qualified to practice any law, can automatically be qualified as patent agents and tax accountants with no additional examination, but not vice versa.
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 pass 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 by 2013 and the U.S.-style law schools will be the 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. Beginning in 2012, passage of the Lawyer Admission Test (which is distinct from the old bar exam) will be required for qualification 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.
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. Legal education in the Philippines is regulated and supervised by the LEGAL EDUCATION BOARD, a statutorily created independent Body chaired by a retired member of the Supreme Court or of the Court of Appeals. Its first chairman is Justice Hilarion Aquino. Sitting as members of the Board are a representative of the law professors, a representative of the law deans and a representative of the Commission on Higher Education. The membership of a student representative has been subject to continuing debate and resistance on the part of law schools. 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. The degrees Master of Laws (LL.M.), Master of Legal Studies are available in only a handful of Philippine universities and colleges, among these San Beda College Graduate School of Law, the University of Santo Tomas and Ateneo de Manila University. The Doctor of Civil Law degree (DCL) is offered only by the University of Santo Tomas and the Doctor of Juridical Science (JSD) degree is offered by the San Beda College Graduate School of Law. Graduate programs in law are also regulated by the Legal Education Board
Legal education in the Philippines normally proceeds along the following route:
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.
In South Africa, the LL.B. is the universal legal qualification for admission and enrollment as an Advocate or Attorney; see split profession. Since 1998, LL.B. programmes may be entered directly at the undergraduate level; at the same time, the LL.B. continues to be offered postgraduate and may then be accelerated dependent on the bachelor's degree. The programme lasts between two and four years correspondingly (compare Australia, above). See Bachelor of Laws #South Africa.
Although not formally required for specialised practice, further training, e.g. in tax, is usually via postgraduate diplomas or focused, coursework-based LL.M. programmes. Research degrees are the LL.M. and LL.D., or PhD depending on university. The Master’s dissertation reflects an ability to conduct independent research, whereas the Doctoral thesis will, in addition, constitute an original contribution to the field of law in question. A doctorate, generally, is required for positions in legal academia. See Master of Laws #South Africa; Doctor of law #South Africa.
Historically, the B.Proc. and B.Juris were the legal degrees offered at the undergraduate level. The four-year BProc qualified one to practice as an attorney, or become a prosecutor or magistrate in the lower courts, but did not allow for admission as an advocate. The three-year B.Juris was the basic requirement for prosecutors and magistrates in the lower courts, but on its own, did not qualify one to practice as an attorney. Both offered admission to the LLB.
For admission as an attorney, one serves "articles" as a candidate attorney with a practicing attorney for two years, and then writes a "board exam" set by the relevant provincial Law Society. See Attorneys in South Africa. The length of articles may be reduced by attending a practical legal training course or performing community service. Attorneys may additionally qualify as Notaries and Conveyancers, via the Conveyancing and Notarial Practice Examinations; those with technical or scientific training may further qualify as patent attorneys – see Patent attorney: South Africa.
The requirements to enter private practice as advocates (Junior Counsel) are to become members of a Bar Association by undergoing a period of training (pupilage) for one year with a practicing Advocate, and to sit an admission examination. On the recommendation of the Bar Councils, an advocate "of proven experience and skill" with at least ten years experience, may be appointed by the President of South Africa as a Senior Counsel (SC; also referred to as a "silk"). See Advocates in South Africa.
The Act regulating admission to practice law ("The Qualifications of Legal Practitioners Amendment Act of 1997") is being revised.
In order to practice law in Sri Lanka, a lawyer must be 'admitted and enrolled as an Attorney-at-Law of the Supreme Court of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. To be admitted to the bar a law student must complete law exams held by the Sri Lanka Law College and undergo a period of apprenticeship under a practicing lawyer. There are two routes taken by students:
Both groups of students must undergo a period of apprenticeship under a practicing lawyer. To become a judge one must be admitted as an Attorney-at-Law.
In England and Wales, law can be studied as an undergraduate degree or in a Graduate Diploma in Law where students complete the Common Professional Examination. After obtaining the degree it is necessary to complete certain vocational courses and to serve a period of on the job training before one is able to qualify to practice as a barrister, legal executive, or solicitor.
The education of lawyers in the United States is generally undertaken through a law school program.
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 and Vermont are the only states that continue to recognize this privilege.
The J.D. degree, like the Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), is a professional doctorate. The Doctor of Juridical 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 J.D., often seek to obtain a Master of Laws (LL.M.) (or other degrees similar to the LL.M., such as the Juris Master (J.M.), Master of Comparative Law (M.C.L.) and 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 one year with appellate courts, but trial level courts (including federal district court) are increasingly moving towards two-year clerkships.
In the United States, law is a Doctoral degree, the pursuit of which students undertake only after having completed an undergraduate degree in some other field (usually a bachelor's degree). The law school program is considered to be a professional school program and upon graduation you receive the distinct title of Doctor. Though attorneys rarely if ever use the title 'doctor' even though they are entitled to by both degree and etiquette. The undergraduate degree can be in any field, though most American lawyers hold bachelor's degrees in the humanities and social sciences. American law schools are usually an autonomous entity within a larger university, though there are independent institutions.
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. Research degrees that are awarded include the Master of Laws (LL.M.) and Doctor of Juridical Science degrees (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. In almost every state, the only way to be admitted to the bar is to pass a (usually multi-day) written examination. Once admitted, most attorneys must meet certain Continuing Legal Education (CLE) requirements.
Law degree - jurist (often compared to an LL.M., but in fact equivalent to the degree of Specialist specific to the Soviet educational system) is awarded in Russia and Ukraine after 5 years of study at a university. Jurist degree may also be awarded in a shorter period of time if a law student has already completed Bachelor or Specialist degree in another field of studies or has previously earned a basic law degree (comparable to Paralegal, an Associate degree in U.S.) from a specialized law college. Bachelor jurist degree (equivalent to Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.)) may be earned concurrently with another Bachelor or Master degree in some universities (comparable to a double-major). Note that this fused, one-degree (Specialist) educational scheme has coexisted with the two-degree (bachelor's - master's) scheme since Russia and Ukraine launched their higher education reforms to bring the domestic educational systems in closer compliance with the Bologna accords. See also academic degree. The latest educational reforms created new system where a four-year law program is offered at the universities for earning Bachelor's degree, and a five-year law program is offered for Master's degree. The degree of Specialist is no longer awarded and is renamed into Master degree.