Why study Law?
The LLB degree provides an excellent grounding in such skills as analysing, decision making, negotiation, researching and forming legal and other arguments. Law graduates are skilled in the precise use of oral and written language and these skills are used in a variety of occupations.
Among the students enrolling in the First Year Law paper are many who want to gain an understanding of how the law works in New Zealand as part of their degree course. These include students enrolled in Commerce, Science, Physical Education, Health Science, Arts, Consumer and Applied Science and other degrees.
Law at Otago
Law is a four year professional degree. The Legal System Course LAWS 101 is the foundation for the law degree but can be taken to count toward another degree. Admission to Second Year Law is restricted to 200 students and is based on the strength of the student's academic record at University with a particular emphasis on the mark achieved for The Legal System.
The second-year course consists of papers in Criminal Law, Law of Contract, Property Law, and Public Law as well as a programme of research and writing. These papers are fundamental to the understanding of law, and provide a foundation for advanced papers in subsequent years.
In the third and fourth years, students have three compulsory papers: the Law of Torts, Jurisprudence, and Legal Ethics. The Faculty also offers a wide range of optional Law papers from which to choose. Students will also continue with a programme of research and writing, and a short programme to develop skills of oral advocacy.
More able students studying for an LLB are given opportunities to enrol for the LLB (Hons) degree which involves supervised research work in addition to the work required for the ordinary LLB degree.
Double major/degree options
You can combine your LLB work with study for a degree in Commerce, Arts, Science, Health Science, Physical Education and other degrees.
By cross-crediting papers between the two courses, two degrees can usually be gained after five years of study. Your employment opportunities are widened with a double degree and more than two thirds of LLB students at Otago are enrolled in this way.
There are no specific requirements regarding subjects taken at school, for entry into the Legal System paper. In general, students are advised to take those subjects at school which interest them and they do well in.
The sorts of skills which are useful for law are good language skills (English is therefore very useful) and skills of analysis (maths is useful here). Another relevant subject, normally first encountered at University, is philosophy. You could develop your language and analysis skills by taking part in activities such as drama and debating at school and at University.
Careers in Law
Law graduates work as legal advisers and company secretaries in the commercial world, they work in management and executive positions in business and private enterprise.
Two thirds of Law students at Otago complete double degrees because Otago's flexible cross-credit system opens up job opportunities in areas like the media, public relations, entertainment industry, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Information Technology consultancies.
Private practice has a variety of fields of law to choose from e.g. commercial, property, public, environmental, banking, wills and trusts, family, criminal, sports, medical, civil, tax, maritime, intellectual property and medical law.
All government departments and local bodies employ lawyers for specialist legal advice. Otago law graduates work in law firms all over the world and also in organisations like the United Nations, the International Labour Organisation and Amnesty International. A Law degree is training for life.
The University of Otago has exchange agreements with more than 90 institutions worldwide. If your marks average B or better you may qualify to attend one of these institutions for one semester or for a year. You pay only your New Zealand fees and complete your qualification within the same timeframe as if you'd never been away. Law students are able to take Law papers at the Law Faculties of specifically approved overseas Universities.