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There are many academic programs for a student to opt for when pursuing graduate education in the United States. A graduate education in Law studies can be one of the options. Law is one of the most distinguished as well as the most reviled professions. Training in law can enable an individual to specialize in a number of fields of law that includes litigation, corporate law, intellectual property, real estate law, taxation and constitutional law.
Apart from competent lawyers being appointed as judges in courts at all levels of the judiciary, lawyers are also essential in drafting key legislations that help in regulating both men and institutions. Law studies can also be a great enabler for students who are interested in public service and politics. A lawyers practice is an essential building base to a professional public life later on in life.
In the US, law studies are offered as a graduate degree. Entry in a law school requires a three point criteria to be met. A bachelor’s degree, this can be in any field of the student’s choice, a satisfactory grade point average (GPA), and a satisfactory Law School Admission Test score (LSAT). The degrees that are offered are the Juris Doctor (JD degree). The Master of Law (L.L.M.) and the Doctor of Juridical Science (JSD).
It should be noted that the US system is highly devolved and each school has its own entry criteria in terms of GPA and LSAT scores. Each state also administers its own bar examinations for entry into the profession. Passing the bar examination is essential for all candidates to be eligible to practice law in a US court. The Multistate Bar Examination is one of the tests that students have to pass under the Bar exams. It is a standardized test, comprising 200 questions which test the candidate’s competency in six subjects.
The US system also has the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) conducted under the bar exams. This is an ethics exam and is administered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). Aspiring lawyers, apart from education in a law school may also undertake programs conducted by private companies like PLI and Supreme Bar Review before giving their bar exams. This is primarily intended refresher of all the enactments and its implementations in a US court.
A vocation in law can be very remunerative in the US, which is one of the prime motivations for most applicants. The starting salaries for lawyers varies with their specializations and practice. The median salaries graduate lawyers in the US was $ 55,000. Corporate lawyers by far are the highest paid, with the annual median pegged at $126,250 (figures from 2004).
US Department of Labor
College Journal Article