J.D. programs prepare graduates to practice or teach the law. Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree programs are often designed for foreign students who already have legal experience or U.S. students interested in international law.
Entrance into a J.D. program generally requires a completed Law School Admissions Test, submission of undergraduate transcripts and a bachelor's degree. Admittance into a Master of Laws degree program requires a Juris Doctor or equivalent law degree. Relevant work experience may sometimes be required as well.
Juris Doctor (J.D.)
Students learn state and federal laws about criminal activity, civil disputes, commerce, taxation and other topics. Many programs allow students to specialize in subjects like business law or patent law after they complete a standard curriculum of introductory legal topics in their first year. Students often have the opportunity to participate in internships with law firms during their studies.
Those interested in executive law often learn about the following topics:
- Contract law
- Employment law
- Tax law
- Securities law
- Commercial law
Master of Laws
Students learn how U.S. laws compare with those from other regions of the world. Since LL.M. students typically already have a legal degree and employment experience practicing the law, these programs focus more on the theoretical and research-oriented aspects of legal practice.
LL.M. students usually choose most of their classes around an area of specialization. Students interested in executive law often specialize in comparative business law. The classes below are popular options:
- International business law
- Comparative employment law
- International trade law
- International tax law
- Comparative business litigation
Popular Career Options
J.D. program graduates have a variety of career options. Graduates can work in law firms, private practices or for government agencies. Those interested in practicing law need to pass their state's bar exam. The careers noted below are popular options:
- Executive lawyer
- In-house corporate counsel
- Tax lawyer
People who earn an LL.M. degree often choose careers in academia or consulting, but they are qualified to sit for their state's bar examination as well. Graduates often choose one of the careers noted below:
- Multinational business lawyer
- Corporate law professor
- International law consultant
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the number of working lawyers was expected to increase 6% from 2014-2024, which is as fast as average. As of May 2015, the median annual wage for these professionals was $115,820.
In general, J.D. and LL.M. programs prepare students for a variety of careers in law. They can also include elective coursework for individuals interested in concentrating on legal topics related to business dealings.