Law Degree

A law degree is an academic degree conferred for studies in law. Such degrees are generally preparation for legal careers; but while their curricula may be reviewed by legal authority, they do not themselves confer a license. A legal license is granted (typically by examination) and exercised locally; while the Law Degree can have local, international, and world aspects- e.g., in Britain the Legal Practice Course is required to become a British solicitor or the Bar Professional Course (BPTC) to become a barrister.

The first academic degrees were all law degrees- and the first law degrees were doctorates. The foundations of the first universities in Europe were the glossators of the 11th century, which were schools of law. The first European university, that of Bologna, was founded as a school of law by four famous legal scholars in the 12th century who were students of the glossator school in that city. It is from this history that it is said that the first academic title of doctor applied to scholars of law. The degree and title were not applied to scholars of other disciplines until the 13th century. And at the University of Bologna from its founding in the 12th century until the end of the 20th century the only degree conferred was the doctorate, usually earned after five years of intensive study after secondary school. The rising of the doctor of philosophy to its present level is a modern novelty. At its origins, a doctorate was simply a qualification for a guild—that of teaching law.

The University of Bologna served as the model for other law schools of the medieval age. While it was common for students of law to visit and study at schools in other countries, such was not the case with England because of the English rejection of Roman law (except for certain jurisdictions such as the Admiralty Court) and although the University of Oxford and University of Cambridge did teach canon law until the English Reformation, its importance was always superior to civil law in those institutions.

In the medieval Islamic madrasahs, there was a doctorate in the Islamic law of the Sharia, called the ijazat attadris wa 'l-ifta' ("license to teach and issue legal opinions").

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