Why study Law?
Many students come to study Law, knowing absolutely that they want to work in the Law sector – these students don’t usually require convincing or persuasion, and may have had a long-time passion for and interest in Law. This can often arise from or be stimulated by life experience – for example, someone who has seen and experienced injustice first-hand may be committed to spending their lives working for justice.
But for those who aren’t sure, and who perhaps have a choice of offers from a university, here are a few good reasons why studying Law is an excellent choice:
Making a difference?
There are many reasons why people choose Law. These include, amongst many others, being able to earn a good, secure living – because at some point, everybody needs a lawyer; status – as a traditional profession with good income potential; acquiring the skills to make a difference in the world; using Law to ensure access to justice amongst marginalised communities, having the knowledge and skills to make a real impact in specialised areas of commerce – eg. shipping, tax and contracts; contributing to the quality and security of people’s lives by ensuring they have their personal legal documentation in order; and contributing to academic knowledge about how the law is developed, practiced, implemented and accessed. These are just a few reasons.
A combination of theory and practice
All Law schools seek to ensure that students not only learn, understand and can argue legal theory and the theoretical underpinnings of the Law. Some Law schools (such as UCT) also ensure that practical experience in Law is a core component of the degree programme – for example, running mock courts and moot competitions. An important component of the UCT Law programme is ensuring that students do pro bono community service as part of their qualification.
Making the Case
Law education is about cases – actual examples of cases that have been argued and judged in a real court. Cases are used to demonstrate various theoretical points and how theory is applied in practice. This approach also serves to maintain an understanding of how the law is applied in practice.
Following a skilled professional path
Good law schools will ensure that their graduates have a minimum set of competences and skills. Here's a few of the skills essential to a career in Law:
- Critical analysis – being able to read, understand, analyse and make up your own mind
- Writing – being able to draft a clear written argument
- Research – being able to find relevant case law in support of a legal argument
- Argument and presentation – being able clearly to formulate and argue your position or point (often taught through moot competitions in and between law schools).
- Sharing ideas – it is required in Law that you are able to argue complex ideas in simple terms, so that not only other law professionals but also your clients are able to understand you.
All of these skills – and the many others you will learn at Law school – are in high demand in other sectors, so moving industries or professional focus is relatively easy, adding to Law graduates’ mobility in terms of career, income potential and other decision factors in choosing your course of study.
In high demand
The rigour of a Law school education, and the range of skills in which excellence is required for graduation, ensures that law graduates are sought after across a range of endeavours. In other words, Law graduates enjoy excellent career prospects.
Clear career pathways
There are a number of options for those graduating with a Law degree – including doing a postgraduate Law Masters (LLM), taking up a position as a candidate attorney at a law firm or doing a Legal Practice course, for example.