There are three types of law degree programmes in the US:
You must complete a four-year bachelor’s degree in any field of study before applying to law school. Most students will have a degree in some area of the humanities, social sciences, or behavioural sciences. The basic law degree, known as the first professional degree, is the JD (Juris Doctor) degree.
Because JD programmes in the US are focused on preparing American students for US legal practice, they are of little use to students whose careers will be based in other countries. In most cases, international students are advised to complete the equivalent of the JD degree in their home country (i.e. an LLB in New Zealand), and then apply to graduate law programmes in the US for advanced study of particular aspects of law.
Students interested in becoming specialists in a particular area of law should look for master’s degrees in law (LLM) programmes focussing on the specific area in which they are interested. There are some law schools that offer individually designed LLM programmes that allow students to tailor course work to meet their own needs.
Here are some useful facts about studying for a LLM in the US:
Doctoral programmes in law are offered by only a few law schools and are generally intended to prepare graduates for academic careers. These programmes most commonly confer the Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) which is sometime termed the Doctor of the Science of Law (JSD).
US doctoral law programmes do not usually admit students directly from overseas. A minimum pre-requisite is the equivalent of a master’s degree. Some universities will accept only those who have already completed the school’s master’s degree.