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Do you want to pursue a legal career? It takes a great deal of determination and grit to get into a good law school, let alone have the opportunity to practice law with a reasonable amount of success. Completing your undergraduate degree with remarkable grades is the first of many hurdles that you will need to encounter on this long and cumbersome path. There is no restriction with regards to the discipline in which you finish your undergraduate course. You just need to be a graduate and clear the Law School Admissions Test or (LSAT) to be eligible to apply for a seat to study law in one of the 196 law schools spread about in the 49 states in the US. Alaska is the only state in the US not to have a law school, the reasons for which are not pretty obvious. The law degree in America is called Juris Doctor or JD. Though there is no formal restriction for overseas students to study law in the US, it is becoming increasingly difficult for overseas students to pursue a career in law in the US. The course mainly emphasizes on the legal practice of United States, says A. Harrison Barnes, the CEO of

Background of legal education

In the ancient times Edward I stipulated that the lawyers in the states had to be trained and competent enough to pronounce justice. Over a period of time he said that the students were allowed to hire professionals for delivering lectures. This resulted in the foundation of the Inns of Court system. It was by the end of the seventeenth century that this Inns of Court obtained a status akin to the Cambridge and the Oxford University. Over the time, importance of lawyers grew and they were in high demand.

Internship programs for the solicitors came about, which were controlled and governed by the similar sets of rules and regulations. This internship training was recognized by a parliamentary Act in the year 1729. The first law lecturer was William Blackstone. It was he who wanted to make significant changes in the study of law. He wanted to generalize the whole subject rather than concentrating on details and measures. Even though the parliamentary Act of 1846 was passed, stipulating the formation of many formal law schools, none have come up till date.

Contemporary approaches:

Student training and research work for a law school:

You need not take up any particular subject at the undergraduate level; to pursue your legal career says A. Harrison Barnes. The law schools look for managerial and communicative skills among the students. Interpersonal skills are also an incentive when applying for a law school seat. The schools also prefer students who have knowledge regarding a wide range of disciplines. Association of American Law Schools stipulates that “well developed academic ability” is preferred over intense specialization in any of the disciplines such as:

• Subjects related to science • Economics • Social sciences like that of psychology, sociology, political science, anthropology • Computer science • Or accountancy

In America it is not mandatory that a student has to pass her or his undergraduate degree from a college in America only, but because of the increasing competition, it has become very difficult to accommodate students from the overseas these days, says A. Harrison Barnes.

Previously the rule was such that the JD applicants in the final year of their under graduation, should clear LSAT. The applicants need not posses any knowledge of law. The students were only required to undertake an analytical and reasoning test. However, there are also several other criteria that are taken into consideration by a law school to admit a student, such as a personal essay that reflects the applicant’s strengths and problem solving skills and their grade trends in the undergraduate program.

Education in the law schools

The students taking up law as their career would find out that the programs are more or less similar in all the law schools. Since the curriculum is basically the same for all law schools, you can only differentiate among the law schools on the basis of the courses they offer, methods of teaching they adhere to and the official requirements. Since all the law schools strive to brighten the lives of the future attorneys and associates, these similarities are pretty obvious.

The American legal education system, offers general education in its foundation year following which the lawyers can choose to specialize in a particular branch of law. Once the prospective lawyer has finished the course and is awarded the J.D., he or she is required to pass the State Bar Examination to obtain license to practice law as an Attorney At Law. The legal education system emphasizes on the following points:

• Acquiring basic knowledge of law • Acquiring comprehensive knowledge about the legal system • Development of analytical skills

The graduate law programs of United States, provides opportunity to undertake comparative analysis of the legal system. The law students also undergo crash courses of trainings to sharpen their managerial and communicative skills. Most of the law schools admit students who have cleared the JD. There are many schools that prefer students with knowledge about the civil laws. Foreign doctors who do not have a Juris Doctor would have to obtain Master of Laws or similar programs to practice law in America. There are many law schools that provide you with combinations and choices between JSD, MCL, and LLM. LLM requires one whole year to complete. It is the master’s degree for the lawyers in America. The MCL is a full year master’s degree course for the graduates and civil lawyers. Master of Comparative Jurisprudence or (M.C.J.) and the Master of Comparative Law or (M.C.L.) are the most suitable courses for the overseas lawyers says A. Harrison Barnes. While the lawyers are studying in the United States, they are also given the opportunity to monitor and scrutinize the legislative bodies and courts of the state.

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