Often referred to as “the science of law,” the discipline of law is the study of the legal rules and regulations that govern the lives of individuals and societies. It includes subjects such as family law, criminal law, and the laws of contracts, property, and tax. The practice of law is typically overseen by government, though private individuals are able to create legally binding agreements and arbitrations.
The concept of “natural law” first emerged in ancient Greek philosophy. It grew out of the notion of justice. In some churches, such as Islam, religion plays a major role in law. However, religion for law is generally interpreted as a set of religious precepts that are explicitly based on the word of God. It is not necessarily the case that religious laws are enforceable.
Common legal issues include immigration, consumer rights, and housing. These issues vary from country to country, and in some countries, they are governed by legislation or by a court decision. Other areas of concern, such as environmental and healthcare, are likely to be hot topics in the coming years.
In the United States, the first step toward becoming a lawyer is earning a Juris Doctor degree. This degree takes three years to complete and allows students to practice law in the U.S. In addition to taking courses in law, law school programs can also provide students with a variety of experiences that can help them connect with their communities and global society. These experiences can include internships, group work, and presentations. Some institutions offer opportunities for students to work with top-tier practitioners and engage in community service.
For those interested in a more specialized program, there are also two-year law degrees. These programs may require students to pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). In addition, some schools allow students to spend a year abroad. This is especially helpful for those interested in international law, where the student can learn about the rules and legal systems of various nations.
In the United States, a student can also choose to earn a Juris Doctor with a Master of Laws. These programs are designed to prepare students for careers in the legal profession, although they can be used as a supplement to other graduate programs. There are also law degrees available that are not affiliated with the American Bar Association. A student should consult with their local bar association to determine which program best suits their interests and career goals.
The field of contract law examines the nature of contracts, how they are negotiated and interpreted, and the theories of justice. The US Uniform Commercial Code codifies common law commercial principles. Other fields of interest include property law, intellectual property, and commercial law.
For those interested in a law degree that requires more than three years to complete, there are options that involve intensive coursework. Some programs are taught by national experts in a number of fields. Others focus on academic research. Some institutions also allow students to spend a year overseas or work pro bono with real-life clients. Several law libraries have online resources that make researching and citing materials easier.