A law degree is referred to as a Juris Doctorate degree. It is an advanced, graduate degree studying the “system of rules, enforced by a governing body, that shapes politics, economics and society and serves as a mediator of relations between people” - Legal Philosopher, H. L. A. Hart
Background & Preparation
There is no particular undergraduate major or degree that you are required or recommended to obtain in order to prepare or be accepted into law school. There are laws that govern all aspects of life and society and require individuals with knowledge of not only law, but the details specific to each field. The experiences you gain as an undergraduate student, whether you major in Criminal Justice or Zoology, will be of value. However, it is always useful to take an undergraduate law course or intern with a firm to help you decide if law is the right career path for you.
THE REALITIES OF LAW SCHOOL
Law school and practice requires the ability to think analytically. While law school requires a good deal of reading and memorization of legal principles there is a great deal of uncertainty and ambiguity involved. Law is constantly changing therefore it requires the ability to apply legal principles to a variety of different situations and draw conclusions from the relevant facts.
The Case Method Approach
In the case method approach, used in most law schools, you are encouraged to analyze cases and distinguish between the possible outcomes based on the principles applied. Professors challenge you by taking a position contrary to you, forcing you to defend your reasoning. Whether you fully understand the case or not you are required to participate in discussion.
Students have little time for other interests, especially during the first year of law school. The ABA requires that no full-time student hold an outside job for more than 20 hours a week. Most schools encourage their students to become totally immersed in reading, discussing, and thinking about the law.
The Myths & Realities of Law School
An article by Peter F. Lake, Stetson University College of Law
SEARCHING FOR LAW SCHOOLS
Choosing a law school that is right for you will rely on several factors including reputation of the program, cost, entrance requirements, and location. Use the law school search tools listed below to view institution profiles, read professional reviews, and request information from schools. Be sure to ask faculty at potential law schools and at Westfield about pursuing a JD and getting advice on where to apply.
LAW SCHOOL ADMISSIONS
The Credential Assembly Service is a process for collection, summarization, and distribution of undergraduate education information of law school applicants to their law schools of choice. Nearly all ABA (American Bar Association) law schools requiring this as a part of their application process.
Law School Admissions Test is a standardized exam required for entrance into all ABA approved law schools.
FINANCING YOUR LEGAL EDUCATION
Paying for law school can be daunting so it is important to begin the search for financial assistance early. Check with your law school's financial aid department to learn more about financing options, scholarship opportunities, and work-study. Be sure to spend extra time preparing for the LSAT as those with high scores often receive significant aid if not full tuition.
U.S. Department of Education
Student Debt Relief
Financing Your Education Booklet
Federal Student Aid
THE BAR EXAM
The Bar Exam is a government issued test, required of all law students in order to be able to practice law after graduation. The exam varies by state and must be passed to practice in that state.