Aviation Law Degree Program Information
Few programs specific to aviation law exist. Because law school allows students to tailor their courses to their interests, programs can be customized to best prepare graduates for their desired career path. Customizable law programs with a large variety of courses tend to be found at the Juris Doctor level.
Education programs specifically in aviation law are not generally available, however, students interested in this field can take courses in this field while enrolled in a general law degree program. Juris Doctor programs typically take three years to complete and often allow students to select a specialization or electives in an area of interest - including aviation law. Aviation law courses might cover international transport laws, airline labor relations, federal jurisdictions and airline liabilities.
Applicants to a J.D. program are required to have a bachelor's degree, as well as have completed specific prerequisite courses and submit scores from the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) exam. Prospective students might want to look for programs that are accredited by the American Bar Association accredited, since completion of an ABA-accredited program is a requirement for taking the bar exam in many states.
Since the Wright brothers' first flight in 1903, the U.S. has seen the creation of countless agencies, commercial airlines, a military branch and a new form of infrastructure. The first professional law degree, which prepares graduates for careers as lawyers is called the Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. These 3-year programs teach students about liabilities that air traffic controllers can face, air pollution and personal injury.
The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) states that bachelor's degree program graduates who've taken the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) exam are eligible to apply for a J.D. program (www.lsac.org). Law school admission is highly competitive; good undergraduate grades and a high score on the LSAT exam are generally required for acceptance.
Aviation law courses aim to prepare budding professionals for the legal challenges brought about by new technology, such as the use of unmanned aircraft. J.D. programs offer courses that train students in the following areas:
- Airline labor relations law
- Cargo damage
- Environmental law
- Homeland security regulations
- Federal jurisdictions
- Litigation management
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that as of May 2010, 561,350 people were employed as lawyers in the U.S. (www.bls.gov). The same source reported that from 2008-2018, job opportunities were expected to grow 13%. The May 2010 BLS reports showed that the median annual wage was $112,760 for lawyers.
Continuing Education, Licensure and Certification Information
Generally, students are required to wait until after graduation to take the bar exam. According to the LSAC, American Bar Association-accredited J.D. programs satisfy the educational requirements expected of each U.S. state's bar exam. While many states use the multi-state exam offered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners, state examining boards in charge of the bar exams haven't universally adopted this test.
Certain states - including Florida - certify a lawyer's expertise in the field of aviation law. Applicants must have practiced law for at least five years and submit to a peer review of competence levels. Additionally, candidates must be involved in the certification field as well as pass a test and complete continuing education requirements.
Lawyers who've just graduated are eligible for legal internships. On-the-job experience helps lawyers to gain employment, as permanent positions within organizations aren't generally open to lawyers without practical experience.
Interested J.D. program graduates are eligible to apply for a 1-year advanced law degree program culminating in the Master of Laws degree. While many applicants at this level may be members of their state's bar, this isn't a prerequisite. Joint J.D. and Master of Laws programs are available to excellent students who want to start their LL.M. programs during the third and final year of the J.D. program.
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