Types of Law Degrees - Best Value Schools

Types of Law Degrees

February 16, 2021 | Staff Writers

Degree Finder
BestValueSchools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

With such a wide range of careers to consider, there are endless possibilities for students planning for their future. One of the most in-demand fields is the legal industry. But what are some of the most prestigious and sought-after law degrees for students to pursue? There are many types of law degrees that set students up for exciting and enriching careers in the legal field. 

Intellectual property law degree

As the world continues progressing in the technological landscape, intellectual property has taken on a new level of importance. Intellectual property encompasses products of the mind, so concepts that were created by a certain individual or organization. While in the past this area of legal study pertained mainly to physical inventions, literary works, and trademark names, now it includes digital work such as written content, designs, and trade secrets. Companies of all sizes in every sector rely on digital intellectual property, and lawyers are needed to appropriately navigate these oftentimes complicated cases. 

The responsibilities of intellectual property lawyers 

Intellectual property law often focuses on information technology (IT). There are many notable high-profile cases involving IT, such as GoDaddy’s web domains, Facebook’s alleged monopolization, and Google’s antitrust case, just to name a few. In these situations, intellectual property lawyers are responsible for defending IT companies and providers when cases are taken to court. They provide legal counsel to clients on creating and protecting copyright material, trademark law, trade secrets, and other intellectual property. 

Law students pursuing a degree in intellectual property law learn how these lawyers serve as advocates and advisors throughout court proceedings. However, they also spend a considerable chunk of time outside of the courtroom, reviewing documents, interviewing stakeholders, and analyzing technical specifications to better understand the intellectual property at stake and how to protect it. One main responsibility for these lawyers is to understand copyright law and ensure all intellectual property is protected and used fairly when applicable. They also prepare documents to file for patent law procedures and trademark protection under trademark law.

Additional responsibilities of lawyers specializing in information law include interpreting state, federal, and international regulations on clients’ behalf and consider copyright and censorship cases as they come up. Intellectual property lawyers are also tasked with using their comprehensive knowledge of IP law to file relevant lawsuits regarding copyright, trademark, or patent breaches. Sometimes these cases can be settled outside of court, although if it does go to trial, the intellectual property lawyer needs to be extremely prepared and aware of all aspects of intellectual property law. 

Understanding IT and intellectual property law school

Another question on the minds of a lot of prospective law students is whether or not the University at Buffalo School of Law J.D. or other similar programs are really worth it, particularly for an intellectual property course. In terms of IP law, a degree takes several years of extensive studying to obtain, and going to one of the country’s leading schools certainly helps students get ahead and appear attractive to potential employers. Much like a criminal justice degree, IP law students are required to take and pass the bar exam. The top law schools around the country have prepared thousands of lawyers for a future in intellectual property law or related fields. 

Some of the top programs for intellectual property law school have high median LSAT scores indicating well-prepared students. The ratio of students to faculty is another factor in preparing students to be highly resourceful and knowledgeable in all areas of their intellectual property law career. In addition to direct classroom education, it’s important for law school students to have access to internships and extracurriculars where they can gain additional experience and expand their worldview to become more well-rounded lawyers in the long run.

When considering an intellectual property law degree, it’s worth noting the differences between attending a prestigious, top-ranked law school and enrolling in a legal certificate program. The former will cost a lot more money, due to the legitimacy of the program, the school’s recognizable name, and the impressive access to faculty with decades of experience in the legal field. A legal certificate program may be a good first step for those who are interested in learning more about intellectual property law but want to begin as a paralegal or administrative assistant. While most of the highest-paid lawyers go right to law school, everyone has a slightly different path and it’s not unheard of for students to get their start in the legal industry before working their way up and going back to school to get their Juris Doctor in intellectual property law.

Health care law degree

One of the other types of law degrees to think about are in the healthcare field. Healthcare lawyers work on a vast number of cases involving healthcare providers and their patients. Prioritizing public health at the overarching government level is a big part of healthcare law, and some cases involve dozens and even hundreds of plaintiffs or defendants. Healthcare can be a very sensitive subject with life-changing consequences, which makes the work of a healthcare lawyer so important. 

Some successful healthcare lawyers have worked directly in the industry, whether it be as a medical assistant, nurse, doctor, first responder, or other healthcare personnel. While that’s not a prerequisite, an understanding of the complexities of the healthcare system is helpful to students starting out on their healthcare law journey. Some students choose this field because they have a profound personal experience in healthcare and want to help uphold a high standard for healthcare providers. From giant pharmaceutical companies to small-town clinics, there is a need for health law at all levels. 

Main subjects areas in a healthcare law degree program

Students working toward a health law certificate get to examine the extensive legal, ethical, and moral concerns associated with modern-day healthcare. This encompasses public health law such as patient care and confidentiality, as well as the standards of care that all parties should expect. Throughout their studies, students will learn about the legal language and communication practices that allow for appropriate representation of clients in healthcare legal matters.

Birth, death, children’s health, disability law, and elder care are some of the key subjects students cover during law school when specializing in healthcare law. They also look at mental health law, medical malpractice, and HIPA laws protecting patient privacy. This education enables future healthcare lawyers to have the appropriate knowledge of sensitive and serious healthcare matters by the time they complete their degree program.

Professional options for healthcare lawyers

Once a student has passed their exam and officially become a healthcare lawyer, there are a number of pathways they can consider. A master of health law and policy degree gives lawyers the chance to craft, review, and defend the laws that make up the U.S. healthcare system. They may examine healthcare laws for government entities at the local, state, or federal level. Private organizations and consulting firms also hire healthcare lawyers to ensure compliance with public health directives. 

Healthcare lawyers are also brought on board at large organizations such as hospitals, extended care networks, and insurance companies to review documents and offer courtroom representation. Preparing for these roles is made easier with both traditional, in-person learning as well as virtual education. A growing number of schools are offering online health law degrees, whether it be from a well-known four-year university, a technical community college, or an entirely online university. 

With distance education programs now available in health care law, students can learn at their own pace. They can choose to study an LLM in health care pharmaceutical compliance, which teaches prospective lawyers how to analyze legal regulations and policies in a public health landscape that changes constantly. Students who sign up for distance learning options for healthcare law need to remember that these degrees do not qualify them for the bar, but better inform them of all the intricacies of the healthcare industry, such as patient-doctor confidentiality and end of life directives. 

First Amendment law degree

Obtaining a Juris Doctor is a major accomplishment, and many lawyers feel especially proud of completing First Amendment studies. A lawyer who focuses on First Amendment freedoms understands how this part of the Bill of Rights guarantees the freedom of expression, assembly, religion, and petition. First Amendment lawyers are extremely aware of academic freedom and committed to upholding the rights protected by the amendments. While the First Amendment details rights rather than particular laws, it does limit governments from making laws that infringe on American freedoms. 

What does the First Amendment protect?

One of the most crucial aspects when enrolling in a First Amendment law degree program is understanding the protections awarded through the First Amendment. Hate speech is classified as free speech and protected by the First Amendment. Other protections from the Bill of Rights include the freedom of assembly and the right to a speedy trial. Constitutional lawyers must understand all parts of the Constitution, from the First Amendment to the Fourteenth Amendment and beyond.

Constitutional protections and their role in law

Whether or not people completely agree, the First Amendment is a major part of American history and the country’s past and present. The other amendments are also important, including the Ninth Amendment which limits the government from deciding people’s rights are limited to those outlined in the Bill of Rights. The Ninth Amendment confirms that the constitutional list of rights is not exhaustive. Religious freedom, the free exercise clause, and the establishment clause are other constitutional protections law students need to learn more about.

Free speech vs. hate speech

There have been and will continue to be many First Amendment court cases, particularly in regards to free speech and hate speech. Constitutional lawyers reiterate the U.S. Supreme Court’s repeated rulings that hate speech has First Amendment protection, although the definition of what is hate speech continues to be discussed. Certain offensive words may be used to communicate political messages as part of free speech. Hate speech often targets extremely sensitive subjects like race, religion, and sex, which is something constitutional lawyers must be prepared to navigate. 

Environmental and energy law degree

With the world’s growing population and a variety of environmental concerns, natural resources law and energy law are hot topics. As the debate over how to protect the environment both now and in the future continues, environmental lawyers are needed to provide expert guidance on cases that can have a profound impact on the planet and its people. Environmental law is considered public law in regards to biodiversity and natural scenery, and specializing in this field of law starts with finding the right law degree program.

Perks of studying environmental law

international environmental law is a highly engaging area of study with a long list of cases to learn from. For people who feel strongly about protecting the environment, a career with this law degree can be challenging yet enjoyable. Those who study environmental litigation usually do so because they appreciate the opportunity to put their environmental science degree to good use by working toward legal protections for the world around them.

Where can you work with an environmental law degree?

Passing each course and eventually the bar exam is the first step to an engaging and enriching career in environmental law. This degree allows lawyers to work in the public sector for local governments, whether it be for the parks and recreation departments, or on specific cases involving environmental regulations and energy law. An environmental lawyer can also choose to work for private companies as project managers and advocates among more traditional litigation roles.

Criminal law degree

A degree in criminal law opens up a world of possibilities for young professionals. Many criminal lawyers have a genuine interest in criminal justice. Some may have wanted to be police officers, psychologists, or detectives, but life took them in a different direction. Others may actually have that professional experience and now they want to take their next career step. 

Crime is an unavoidable part of human civilization, so the need for criminal justice lawyers will remain far into the future. This is a highly regarded area of law, and a degree in international criminal law and justice gives professionals the qualifications they need to advance in their careers. Whether they want to be an active criminal lawyer taking on cases in the courtroom as a public defender or prosecuting attorney, a degree in international criminal law and justice goes a long way. Pursuing criminal justice legal studies also helps those who want to take on a higher management role in forensics and criminal justice agencies.

What to look for in a criminal law program

If a criminal law degree interests you, it’s important to look for the best law school for criminal law. Saint Rose is highly regarded for a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice due to its interdisciplinary education that supports multiple career paths, but there are other popular criminal law school programs out there for both traditional and virtual learning. Just remember the difference in a degree in legal studies and criminal justice is that the first focuses on the litigation and courtroom processes for criminal cases, while the latter examines the criminal behavior and how it should be treated. A criminal law program that is known for thoroughly combining these two aspects may give you an in-depth education that can improve your career prospects. 

Constitutional law degree

Many people in the U.S. share a passion for the Constitution and upholding the constitutional rights of Americans. Someone interested in going to law school and putting their studies and degree to use in defense of the Constitution may excel in civil rights cases. A Juris Doctor in constitutional law is the highest level law degree, meaning these individuals are the most qualified for evaluating and analyzing the legal protections named in the Bill of Rights.

What does constitutional law mean?

American constitutional law refers to the legal protections afforded by the Constitution. This encompasses the first 10 amendments known as the Bill of Rights, which lawyers with a constitutional law degree will protect and defend in a court of law. As a fundamental area of law and government, constitutional law is outlined in state and federal constitutions and exists to ensure freedoms are not unlawfully superseded or threatened. Some of the more common constitutional law cases cover the right to a fair trial, the right to bear arms, and the right to be free of discrimination.

Tips for studying constitutional law

No matter where they go to school, students pursuing careers as constitutional lawyers need to thoroughly comprehend every line of the U.S. Constitution. They should be able to recite the Constitution and understand how this supreme law applies to a variety of situations depending on the particular protection in question. Of course, going to the best law school for constitutional law helps, although many students choose to forego Ivy League law schools in favor of a more affordable option. Wherever you decide to study, it’s important to look at some of the landmark constitutional law cases in the past such as Morgan v. Virginia and Brown v Board of Education, just to name a few. 

Business law degree

As one of the broader types of law degrees, a business law certificate can be used to support companies and corporations with all their legal concerns. Global business law is referred to around the clock with businesses across every sector requiring legal advice to ensure they are meeting requirements and protecting their investments as best as possible. A business law degree provides a solid foundation for successful attorneys and legal representatives with some of the biggest businesses out there. It’s certainly not worthless, as a degree in business law opens up doors to a range of professional pursuits, whether it be for a public organization or a private entity.

Why is a business law degree so versatile?

Students with a general interest in business and law can combine the two with a business law degree. Going through the hard work and countless hours of studying is all part of the process, as finishing a business law degree helps a student become a lawyer. They need to use what they learned during law school and apply this knowledge to their bar exam before they can officially begin practicing as a lawyer.

When pursuing a master’s in law degree in business or something similar, one thing to keep in mind is the primary difference between a master of arts degree and a master of science degree, which is that an MA covers the arts and humanities while an MS is a technical/scientific degree. A Juris Doctor gives you the same level of education as a Ph.D in family counseling and related degrees, which opens up a wide range of available jobs such as researchers, department directors, and professors. If you’re passionate about business and want to give yourself several options for your future career, a business law degree is a popular choice to consider. 

Opportunities after studying business law

A business law degree is a ticket to many different job opportunities. Once the business law course is completed, newly admitted lawyers may wish to work in the private or public sector. Technology businesses, retail conglomerates, and government entities all require the expertise of dedicated business lawyers, so there may be opportunities down a number of pathways for a lawyer with a business law degree. They may wish to work in-house for one client or join a leading law firm to work with several different businesses and cases. 

Admiralty law degree

While the desired type of law specialty depends on a person’s career and personal ambitions, many nautical enthusiasts appreciate an admiralty law degree. Maritime law is an exciting possibility for people with a naval background or those who are interested in transportation, sailing, shipping, and international relations. Admiralty law initially concentrated on oceans but has been expanded over time to cover all bodies of water like rivers and lakes. Someone who has a natural passion for life on the water or who has grown up sailing the seas may feel drawn to this area of law.

Before pursuing a maritime law degree, it’s best to ask yourself if the legalities around admiralty activities interest you and if you can see yourself making a long-term career out of this? A law degree is a big investment and finding the specialty that sparks your interest and passion makes a big difference to your overall educational experience. Going to university for an admiralty law degree is the logical choice for those who want to combine an interest in legal studies with a background in the maritime industry. As with any law degree, it requires a significant amount of study and knowledge, so maritime enthusiasts who understand the industry can make the most of growing opportunities in this field.

As the terminal degree in the field of law for the U.S., a Juris Doctor is equivalent to a Ph.D , so it’s the best degree you can obtain, both for maritime law and other areas of expertise too. Studying international maritime law at Swansea and other prestigious universities offer students extensive access to resources so they can adequately prepare for the LLM maritime law entrance exams. Before taking this test, aspiring lawyers need to review notable admiralty law cases and the distinguished laws that govern all the nautical activities across the globe.

What do maritime lawyers focus on?

Maritime law encompasses the laws, treaties, and conventions pertaining to both private maritime activity and the Law of the Sea. The international rules for governing the seas and oceans around the world apply to all sorts of nautical matters, including general freight shipping as well as serious crimes. International trade relies heavily on admiralty law as nations around the world invest millions, if not billions, into sea freight. Every maritime lawyer needs to be well-prepared to represent private clients or public entities in what can be highly complex cases. 

One primary area of maritime law is insuring the goods and human resources out on the open water. Individual countries have strict maritime regulations, and any ship displaying the U.S. flag must follow U.S. maritime law, for example. Admiralty lawyers should be well-versed in the relevant laws pertaining to their clients, whether it be a local government of a port city or a major hub for cruise and cargo ships. 

Pursuing a postgraduate diploma in admiralty law

The more research and homework a maritime law student can do, the more prepared they will be to use their new degree to the best of their ability. A maritime attorney with a strong foundation and a confident understanding of how admiralty law applies to international trade can go a long way in their career. As with any postgraduate diploma, and law degrees in particular, the hard work and studying are often well worth it as a maritime attorney may earn a six-figure salary in the future. Getting a law degree at a reputable university is the first step in what can be a very long and fulfilling career. 

Find the program that’s right for you

Whether you’re trying to start your career or make a big change, we can help you find the perfect school to help you reach your goals.

Degree Finder
BestValueSchools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
Scroll to Top