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In most countries, law degrees are awarded without specialty: that is to say, law students earn a general law degree, and graduate as lawyers who then must choose their own specialty. Students who know that they want to focus on business law or who want to work in the legal department of a corporation usually take a lot of business law courses while in law school, but it is not usually possible to earn a specific business law degree. More common is a joint degree in business and law.
The first thing a student hoping to earn a business law degree must do is get admitted to law school. Law school admissions criteria vary from school to school and country to country. In the United States, law school admission generally requires an undergraduate degree, as well as passage of the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Other countries like Australia and the United Kingdom admit law students to a multi-year course of study directly from high school, based largely on grades and high school exit exam scores. Law school admission is universally competitive.
Choosing a law school is the next step to pursuing the aims of a business law degree. Although a business law degree program can be hard if not impossible to find, business and commercial law classes are almost always offered as law school electives, particularly to upper-level students. Some schools’ business law programs are stronger than others. A student who hopes to study business law or who wants a degree in business law would be well-served to research a variety of law schools, visiting where possible and asking questions about the business curriculum and available business law resources. How many law school alumni work in the business law sector can be a good indication of a school’s business law strength.
Business law classes focus on the legal aspects of forming and running a business. Negotiating contracts, overseeing multi-layer transactions, and keeping up with accounting and tax management are all essential topics. Business transactions across borders are also usually covered. Most of business law is civil in nature. Students will learn how to lead and advise businesses to work within the confines of the law, but do not usually focus on prosecuting businesses that stray. Business crimes are usually dealt with in criminal law courses.
Many of the larger universities that house law schools also house business schools. A student may be able to accomplish his business law degree goals by taking law courses concurrently with courses in the business school. Many schools also offer dual-degree programs, giving students the ability to earn a law degree and a business degree, such as a master’s of business administration (MBA), at the same time. Dual degree programs typically take additional time to complete, usually about a year longer than a law degree alone.
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