Is Law School Worth It? (With FAQs and Areas of Practice)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published August 22, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Law school is a type of education that teaches regulations, legislation, and how to use them to exercise the law. Determining whether to attend law school depends on your interests and career goals. There are many reasons to consider a legal education and understanding what to expect can help you make a decision about your future. In this article, we provide an answer to "Is law school worth it?", answer common questions about law school, and explore rewarding areas of practice that make law school advantageous.

Is law school worth it?

Determining the answer to "Is law school worth it?" involves understanding more about this type of education. Law school gives you a valuable credential, you can apply to any field, but it's important to know that earning a law degree doesn't necessarily mean you are eligible to practise law after graduation. In fact, many law graduates work as politicians, finance executives, and in high-level administration roles.

Law school equips you with an understanding of the legislation that governs the world, from real estate to the criminal code. It teaches you to research comprehensively, gain a full understanding of a situation, and then use that information to act. The legal field is a living entity, changing with each court's decision. Law school applies what you learn both in traditional and non-traditional ways. Law school teaches you objectivity and that every entity has the right to counsel.

FAQs about law school

Below, we provide answers to some common questions about attending law school:

How long does it take to get into law school?

It typically takes three to four years of undergraduate study and another year to prepare for the LSAT. Your score on that written test, combined with your academic record and application, determines your eligibility for law school. Testing takes place on set dates, so to minimize your time investment, ensure that you monitor deadlines and plan your courses ahead. It may take more than five years to get into law school.

How long does law school take?

Law school provides either a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) or Juris Doctor (JD) undergraduate degree and typically takes three years of full-time study. These qualifications are the same, and the one you receive depends on the institution you attend, although a JD is now the most common. The first year of law school teaches you about a range of topics, such as criminal, constitutional, property, and contract law. Your second year involves specialization, allowing you to focus on your field of interest. The third and final year of law school involves establishing a specialization, contributing to legal journals, and participating in more leadership opportunities.

After earning your LLB or JD, you can begin articling, where you have the opportunity to learn from a certified lawyer. Each province and territory has its own program to satisfy the law society in that jurisdiction, with unique requisite hours and tasks. After completing the articling process, you can take the bar exam, gain registration and insurance, and be ready to work as a lawyer.

What careers can I pursue with a law degree?

Getting your law degree gives you the opportunity to focus on broad applications of the law. Through the courses you study, you can research different areas thoroughly and get a better understanding of your career goals and interests. In general, a law degree enables you to provide confidential advice and help clients. You can practise law directly, work as a business consultant, move into politics, or work as a notary public, which all Canadian lawyers qualify for upon graduation.

Read more: 15 Lawyer Job Titles (With Salaries and Job Duties)

Where can I attend law school?

There are 24 legal institutions across the country, including seven in the Western provinces, nine in Ontario, five in Quebec, and three in Atlantic Canada. There are no law schools in the territories, so residents of those regions often pursue their degrees in one of the nearest provinces. Depending on where you want to practise, it's beneficial to attend a school in a specific area. For example, Quebec's law is unique to most of the country, so if you plan to work in that jurisdiction, opting for an education in the area can be helpful.

Where can I practise law?

After passing the bar in that province or territory, you qualify to practise law there. It also requires you to stay in good standing, have active insurance, and pay your dues. You can practise in the public, private, non-profit, and military sectors.

How can I grow my legal career?

Many law school graduates build their careers based on their field of expertise. For instance, a personal injury lawyer may address class action topics, which can occur in both criminal and civil proceedings. Other lawyers aim for the partner track by developing seniority or creating their own business after growing an solid client base. Other lawyers focus their efforts on receiving a call to the bench, the first step in attaining judgeship.

Can I use my law degree in a business setting?

Corporate lawyers know all aspects of commercial operations, including taxes, administration, and finance. In Canada, corporations require annual filings for taxes and to maintain their business status. Many lawyers make entire practices or partnerships that serve corporate entities exclusively. A legal education equips you to work with companies of all sizes and provides insight into how the law impacts business.

What types of law can I practise?

Some areas of legal specializations include:

Military

The Canadian military uses an entirely different set of regulations than civilians, so if you have an interest in the armed forces, you might pursue a career as a legal officer. Legal officers provide legal services in the areas of operational law, international law, training, military personnel law, and military justice. Before being assigned, you are required to complete basic training and military officer qualification training.

Military lawyers provide defence and prosecutorial services to members of the armed forces. This involves preparing cases, researching precedent, and arguing in court. They also perform security clearances, attend to discharges, and manage judicial reviews. Some professionals transition to private practice and remain in the military for an entire career.

Business and corporate

Business law is a common field because all parties involved in a transaction have the right to independent legal counsel. In this position, lawyers advise on issues ranging from mergers and acquisitions to tax issues and bankruptcy. Within a business law specialization, you can further focus your attention on issues like trusts, joint ventures, or corporate restructuring.

Read more: 10 Types of Law to Consider (Including Salaries and Duties)

Criminal

Criminal lawyers can work either as a prosecutor or defence counsel. When you work in a prosecutorial capacity, the Crown hires you to pursue criminal charges against an accused party. The job involves using precedent and the criminal code to prove the defendant guilty while balancing that against taxpayer dollars, often resulting in plea bargains.

Defence lawyers are either private or appointed by the court. The role of these lawyers is to use legal information and research to prove the client innocent or take measures to mitigate the charges. Law school teaches you how to navigate the legal system to protect the innocent and prosecute the guilty.

Personal injury

Personal injury and malpractice law is a type of civil proceeding that requires lawyers for both sides. The lawyer that represents the hurt person aims to assign blame appropriately, then seeks monetary compensation for losses the injury caused. This involves managing medical records, insurance statements, and other aspects of the file to prove damages. On the other side of a personal injury case is the respondent. Lawyers can also represent the accused, often working through an insurance agency.

Read more: 13 Jobs with a Law Degree (With Salaries and Job Duties)

Intellectual property

With increasing digitization and access to information, the demand for intellectual property (IP) lawyers is high. These professionals represent individuals or businesses seeking to claim intangible property rights. Lawyers in this field advise on issues like patents and trademarks. Law school teaches you how to navigate changing IP legislation to best represent your client's interests. Lawyers can either work for a separate firm and handle IP cases or work in-house for a company to manage its copyrights and registration.

Read more: 11 of the Highest-Paid Lawyers (With Job Duties and Salaries)

Real estate

Also called conveyancing, the sale of real estate in Canada requires a lawyer to transfer the property from one owner to another. This practice ensures that mortgage documents are correct, that insurance is in place, and that the transfer and transmission of the sale paperwork are correct and punctual. If you take courses in real estate law, you can also learn the regulations according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which allows you to provide valuable services to people purchasing or selling a home.

Family

Law school usually involves several family law courses, though many lawyers choose this as a specialization. It's a reliable industry that covers legal matters related to marriage, adoption, divorce, and all family-related topics in between. Law school prepares you for client management, setting emotional boundaries, and handling all types of these files. Some common topics include prenuptial agreements, divorce and separation agreements, and custody applications.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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