lecture hall

Law

(First State Exam)
lecture hall
Image: Hofmann
Between bookshelves Between bookshelves Image: Reuter

Why study law?

Studying law opens up a wide range of professional opportunities in addition to the classic career paths such as becoming a lawyer, judge or public prosecutor. During the course of the program, students not only acquire legal expertise, but also learn how to efficiently analyse complex issues and solve them in a logical and differentiated manner. Students are trained in eloquence and argumentation techniques, as well to develop a razor-sharp sense of where the legal issues lie. These skills are of utmost importance, especially in management positions.

Moreover, law as a field of academic study is highly focused on the practical application of the discipline. The legal issues analysed in class are often drawn from real-life cases. Legal education is designed accordingly: following the law program, graduates undertake a legal traineeship which leads the way to becoming a fully qualified lawyer. During this period, trainees become acquainted with all practically relevant fields of work in the legal sphere.

Why are law students required to take the State Exam?

The University of Jena is the only university in the state of Thuringia which allows students to sit the First State Examination (Erste juristische Prüfung). This qualifies graduates to be admitted to the legal traineeship, which ends with the Second State Exam (Zweites Staatsexamen). In order to be able to work as a judge, lawyer, public prosecutor or other traditional legal professions such as, for example, working for a government agency in a legal capacity, candidates must have passed both exams.

Moreover, businesses also greatly value the advanced qualifiations that law graduates obtain. The legal education offers more opportunities than a Bachelor’s degree due to its increasingly interdisciplinary, practice-oriented nature and various possibilities for specialisation, meaning that students do not have to decide on a specific profession at the outset. Thus, a law degree opens all doors - at more attractive employment conditions.

Prospective students should not be discouraged by the length of the program. Studying law does take a bit longer than a Bachelor’s degree (10 semesters on average). However, a Bachelor’s degree alone is usually insufficient to successfully gain a foothold in the job market, which is why many subsequently study a two-year Master’s.

How long does it take to study law?

On average, it takes 10 semesters to complete the program. However, final exams usually take place after the 8th semester, followed by the oral exam.

Can I start the program in the summer semester?

Yes! Usually, programs can only be started during the winter semester which starts on the 1st October of each year. At the Law Faculty in Jena, however, you can decide whether to start then or during the summer semester instead, which starts on the 1st April of every year.

Is studying law really as tiresome as they say?

Admittedly the expression 'no pain, no gain' holds true. The German Civil Code alone has almost 2,400 sections. (Who on earth can learn them all off by heart?) The most important commentary to the German Civil Code weighs a couple of kilograms. (Can anyone even get through such a thick book?) People who do not enjoy reading will definitely have a hard time studying law. However, that does not mean that only stay-at-homes who shun the light of day will enjoy it. Law is closely associated to the humanities and social sciences such as history, philosophy, political science, sociology and economics.

It is also very wide-ranging. There are many different areas to specialise in, including enviromental law, energy law, commerical law, medical and pharmaceutical law, media and copyright law, sports law, police and risk prevention law, criminology, equine law and even space law. Studying law undeniably opens many doors and opportunities.

Aren’t there too many lawyers in the profession as it is? Is there even any point getting a law degree these days?

It is probably always impossible to predict the level of job security upon graduation, regardless of the area. That being said, studying law does offer two advantages over other degrees.

Firstly, there is always a need for good lawyers. Graduates with outstanding grades will definitely attract employers’ attention in the legal sector. 

Secondly: Graduates who are not able to fulfil their dream of becoming a judge, public prosecutor, notary or commercial lawyer still have a wide range of paths to choose from. The skills obtained during the program are indispensable in leadership positions. Legal knowledge and logical reasoning are in high demand in management positions, the business world as well as in politics, journalism and associations. The vast number of lawyers in leading public positions, past and present, are a testament to this fact.

Career prospects

  • Judge, public prosecutor, lawyer, notary
  • Lawyer in local, regional and federal government
  • Business
  • Journalism, publishing
  • Politics, NGOs
  • Unions
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