This article is an aid for deciding whether or not to study a degree in Law. The LLB (Bachelors of Law) is a fascinating, demanding, and rewarding degree, even if you don’t fancy becoming a solicitor or barrister. This piece considers four different points that are important when establishing whether studying Law is right for you, and whether you are right for a Law degree. These are: motivation; the degree itself; universities; and finally, career paths. Many factors will (and should) influence your decision to study Law or not, but these are the most important points.
People are motivated by an aggregate of elements. Knowing one’s motivation for pursuing a degree in law is crucial. This will not only help you focus on a future goal and appreciate your course, but will also help you enjoy university and make the most of your degree.
It is important to think about motivation specifically, not in a broad sense. Focus on what made you first decide to pursue this course, when it was you gave it serious consideration, and, crucially, whether or not you are certain of this decision. Will you like it? Take the time to carefully deliberate. Your motivation to do study Law should not be the result of a process of elimination: “I don’t like math, and don’t enjoy science so what else?” Nor should it be based on the lure of doing a ‘professional’ degree (medicine, law, engineering, etc.). Doing well in the course is one thing, but enjoying your chosen degree is an entirely different beast altogether.
The Law degree itself will be challenging. It’s fairly standardised in universities of the same region, such as across the UK or the USA. This point will be considered again later on. What you must understand about a Law degree is that its focus will predominantly be on academic legal study. You will study what the law is and would do well to consider what it should be. Theories and academic arguments about these issues run rampant throughout the course. Hence, jurisprudential points will always be considered. Law degrees generally also require essays, dissertations, and short answers to questions which will be assessed. Good essay writing skills will be honed in time, but it’s good to be aware of what is required of Law students.
Now to consider universities. As previously mentioned these institutions are all over the world. However, because law is a jurisdictional profession, each country’s universities will teach different content and have varying entry requirements. For example, Law is a post-graduate degree in the USA, whereas in the UK it is an undergraduate degree. In the UK the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) allows students to “convert” any undergraduate degree into a law one. Therefore, it is important to have an idea which country you want to complete your degree in, as this allows you also to consider all requirements for entry. For example in the UK undergraduate Law degrees consider A-levels or their equivalent when looking at applications. In the USA a bachelor’s degree is required first. Universities have different lengths for their Law degrees. This is generally three years in the UK, as with most bachelor’s degrees. In Australia it could be three to five years depending on the degree you take.
Finally, and most importantly, you must consider your future career. Most (though not all) Law students intend to become practising lawyers. One must decide what kind of lawyer to be, solicitor or barrister. You should take this into account if you decide to become a practising lawyer, but it is possible to be flexible and change your mind as you study Law. However, note that people study Law for other reasons. For example out of academic interest, or simply as a means to an end (such as going into consulting or banking). If you are one of these people, to maximise your time at university you could pick modules or extracurricular activities that relate to or will be helpful for your prospective career.
The Law degree is a highly respectable one which builds many transferable skills that allow you to transition into other career paths should you choose to do this. Give some careful thought before embarking on the course. Should you choose to do so rest assured knowing it will be a fulfilling one.