In the United States, Canada, Britain and some other countries adopted the Anglo-Saxon system of common law (Common Law System). It is based on legal precedent. That is, the judge’s opinion is based on the experience of previous decisions on similar processes. Common Law system of law studies gives students general knowledge in the field of law and develops the ability to think logically. In other words, it is not necessarily to understand all the intricacies of the law but is more important to be able to analyze any situation and understand how to apply the law in a particular case.
Law studies in the US differs from other countries. American law studies and the law itself are treated as professional and academic sector, which means that students can enter universities to obtain the degree in law only after obtaining a bachelor’s degree. Law in the United States is not taught in undergraduate programs.
School of Law, which became a professional space for lawyers, is considered the main element of law studies in the United States. In view of the legal and federal system the US law schools are focused on how to make the graduate thinking and promote skills, thus preparing to practice in any jurisdiction of the United States.
American law schools, which is accredited by the ABA (American Bar Association) or other authorized body of the state do not permit a graduate to perform professional activities, and provides a minimum level of competence, which is tested during the qualifying examinations.
Law studies in the United States is a two-stage:
First stage begins after termination of secondary education, i.e. after college, (3-4 years). A graduate receives diploma of Bachelor of Arts (BA).
Second stage – higher education that is obtained in specialized schools or colleges.
Higher legal education in the United States is divided into three stages:
- Juris Doctor, JD.
- Master of Law (LL.M.)
- Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.)
Juris Doctor – Juris Doctor, JD
Juris Doctor is the first law degree in the United States. It is awarded after three years of study, after obtaining the bachelor’s degree, which is received in colleges.
The first year of study consists of the development of mandatory basic legal disciplines. These usually include contractual, property, tort, criminal and administrative law, legal profession, philosophy of law and others. In addition, students can choose specialization, having passed the required number of elective subjects. Among the possible subjects students study: offense constitutional and patent law, environmental law, ethics and other.
J.D. degree entitles its holder to engage in virtually any kind of legal action, however exclusively in the United States. Before engaging in legal activities, Juris Doctor graduates must pass the bar exam. Each state imposes its own requirements for the bar exam, but they all require that students have completed law school accredited by the American Bar Association.
Master of Law – LL.M. (Legum Magister).
Unlike other training programs in countries where a master’s degree is considered the first professional level in the USA the LL.M is the second professional degree after Juris Doctor. LL.M program lasts one year, after which students can choose to specialize in particular field.
It should be noted that mainly foreign students who received a law degree outside the US and seeking to practice law overseas obtain the degree of LL.M. Typically, owners of J.D. rarely seek to obtain LL.M.
Studying subjects depend on the type of master’s degree programs. First student pass compulsory subjects then choose subjects of specialization. In addition, there are elective courses, which may include: property rights, tax issues of corporate law, local and state taxes, intellectual property law, bankruptcy.
To participate in the competition for admission to the LLM student has to provide a copy of the diploma with grades, CV, cover letter and recommendations.
Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.)
Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) is considered to be higher degree in American law schools. It is awarded on the basis of preparing and defending a thesis, which lasts 3 to 5 years, depending on the university. In addition, at this stage of training students have the opportunity to work in an academic environment, as law professors.
Despite the fact that the curriculum for the degree of Doctor of Juridical Science provides for writing a thesis, students must pass a certain number of subjects before starting work on the project.
Students who decide to acquire a doctoral degree may obtain Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD or JSD) and Doctor of Comparative Law Studies (DCL).