A Law PhD degree can greatly enhance the career of an attorney or other professionals in the legal profession. If you have aspirations of taking up a top-level position in the legal system, it will be necessary for you to earn a law PhD. Even a Masters degree is not sufficient for certain occupations. For example, if you want to teach at a college or university, a PhD (also called a doctoral or doctorate degree) is necessary.
Law School Education and Training
In the US, some legal disciplines are not included in graduate programs. A doctoral degree is a lot more specialized and focused than a Masters qualification. However, in most cases, it is necessary to first obtain a Masters before going on to train for doctorate status. Completion of a doctoral degree in the US usually takes between 3 and 6 years.
The study duration will vary according to your educational background. For example, if you have a Masters, it may take less time to finish your PhD, especially if it is the same field. Other factors that affect the duration are your ability and dedication, as well as the complexity of the thesis you choose. A thesis is an extensive, lengthy paper that takes much research and a lot of time to complete. It is a mandatory part of a doctoral study program.
To become a law professor, you will first have to complete a 4-year undergraduate program, then spend 4 years at a law school. A professor is required to have a doctoral degree in law, plus several years experience working as a lawyer before being employed in a teaching capacity at a university or college. You will also have to apply for a license and pass the state bar examination.
Careers in Law
A professor’s job involves initiating and moderating classroom discussions. It is necessary to be well-informed and conversant with all new developments in the justice and legal systems. Much of your time will be spent communicating and reading with your colleagues and you will have to attend conferences. The job also entails research and publishing your findings in academic papers and books.
As a professor, you are required to review and choose text books to be used for coursework. A professor’s job description includes the drawing up of proposals to obtain funding for research projects. Working hours are regular but it takes a lot of time to prepare for lessons. This means that you may have to sacrifice some of your free time in the evenings and weekends.
Other options with a law PhD are publishing, reviewing and editing documents for journals, magazines, newspapers, and textbooks. Private companies also employ doctoral lawyers as consultants. In this capacity, you would develop in-house policies, prepare contracts, and ensure that the company is operating within the parameters of the legal system.
Law Studies Programs
- LLM in International Business Law
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- M.S. in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies
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- CERT: Paralegal Studies
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