What are the Different Types of Law Courses?

B. Miller

Depending on the type of law degree that a student is pursuing, there are hundreds of different potential law courses available that one might choose to take. The choice is often based on whether a student is pursuing a Juris Doctor (J.D.) law degree, or a more advanced Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree following the J.D., among other degree options. A J.D. is typically a three year degree during, which a student will take a variety of law courses on a number of subjects, such as civil law, constitutional law, and criminal law, among others. Master's degrees following the J.D. will further allow a student to specify his or her interests relative to a future law career, such as human rights or environmental law, and typically take an additional year or two to complete.

Earning a Juris Doctor degree from a law school is a three-year program.
Earning a Juris Doctor degree from a law school is a three-year program.

It is important for anyone with a J.D. degree to have a solid background in all different types of law, as well as the litigation, judicial, and dispute regulation processes, which is why a number of early law classes are focused on these topics. Students will also typically be required to take a number of history classes in order to understand how law has changed, as well as government classes to fully understand government processes that create laws. Some of these general classes may include civil law, family law, or criminal law, which is also referred to as penal law. Constitutional law is also often required, as well as is corporate or business law, and labor law.

Constitutional law is a common course in law school.
Constitutional law is a common course in law school.

These are just a few of the most common law courses required by students pursuing a law degree. More specific options may also be offered as the program progresses, such as real estate law or international law. Though students pursuing a J.D. degree may specialize to a certain extent, this type of degree is typically very general, and students who wish to specialize in a certain type of law will be required to pursue a Master of Laws.

An LL.M. degree allows students to take a number of additional law courses to better prepare them for their specialized careers. Some of the most popular LL.M. programs include environmental law, taxation law, or human rights law. Of course, it is not required to pursue an LL.M. or additional education after taking the required law courses to obtain a J.D. degree; many people will sit for the bar exam after completing that degree in order to become a licensed attorney. Keep in mind that there are many law courses or even complete law degrees offered online now, which can make the process more convenient.

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