What Does a Juris Doctor Degree Involve?
If you are in law school, it is crucial that you not only be familiar with the law itself, but also what is needed to do well in law school. Studying the law is one thing; actually applying it is another. In order to make yourself an effective law student, you must know what skills you need to succeed in law school.
One skill that first-year law students typically excel at is reading. Learning to read well takes time, and law school is no exception. Although the power to be able to quickly memorize certain facts may be helpful to you, the key to being smart and successful in law school is more about the capacity to be able to analyze and memorize. Because legal rules constantly change and evolve, certain rules can quickly lose their relevance over time, but the capacity to think independently will always be of value. In law school, a lawyer should be able to analyze a case from many different angles in order to come up with his or her best argument. Being able to “think outside the square” is essential.
Another skill law school students will need to have is an ability to communicate. Even if you are working with your professors and your classmates during the course of your studies, you will still be communicating with people from all over the country. Communication skills are the key to successful completion of law school and a successful career in the legal profession.
Once you have received your undergraduate degree, you can begin your law-school preparation by obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree from a university that participates in the American Bar Associations accredited program. At most law schools, a Bachelor of Science degree is required as a minimum initial degree, although some will accept candidates with only a high school degree. It is not uncommon for law schools to require a Master’s degree to enroll. A Master’s degree is usually required for a position that requires a higher level of expertise. If you have already received a Bachelor of Science degree, you will likely be able to skip a Master’s program and go straight to law school.
Once you have received your bachelor’s degree, you can begin your research into law schools. Most law schools accept transfer credits and students who wish to major in the field of law will be automatically accepted to a postgraduate program. Some postgraduate programs are specially designed for those who wish to major in law. For example, at the George Warren School of Law at the University of Michigan you can major in Juris Doctor (J.D.). A Juris Doctor degree typically takes two years to complete but is well respected and highly sought after by law firms, corporations, and other legal professionals.
Once you have received your bachelor’s degree, it is important to pursue a legal education. Many students choose to go to law school at what is known as an “academic powerhouse.” This is typically a prestigious law school such as the University of Michigan. An academic powerhouse is great if you are considering a position in law because it offers an exceptional teaching environment. The curriculum and student body are exceptionally diverse, which ensures a challenging curriculum.
You will then need to decide what type of law you want to practice. While state law requires that attorneys practice within the jurisdiction of the state they are practicing in, many choose to practice law throughout the United States. This provides an excellent opportunity to observe the culture and communities throughout the country. You will also want to explore whether you want to be involved in litigation or paralegal work. Both areas offer a wide variety of opportunities for experience and building a strong foundation of knowledge.
Most law school Graduates go on to become practicing attorneys. They have their choice of where they will do this, however most begin their careers practicing law in the same city where they graduated from law school. A Juris Doctor degree is an excellent investment in your future career and you should make every effort to get to the point you can where this is possible. Your future will undoubtedly be filled with cases involving the courts, so you should make every effort to always be prepared.