Law is a subject that permeates society and spans everything from economics to human rights.
As such a universal subject, though, honing in on a specialty under the umbrella of law can be exceptionally difficult.
There are 21 different fields of law, so choosing a field might end up being one of the most difficult decisions you have to make in your academic career.
One factor that could certainly help steer you in the right direction, is the popularity of each field.
By popularity here we mean how in-demand the field of law is since this will likely determine how easy it is to land a job as well as how lucrative a career in that field could be.
What determines whether a field of law is in demand or not?
One of the biggest indicators of whether a field of law will be highly sought-after or not is the current state of the economy and society at large.
For instance, in a period of economic uncertainty, it’s not uncommon to see a surge in lawsuits filed against individuals or businesses which would fall under the remit of civil litigation.
Likewise, when the economy of a country is on the downturn, all kinds of employment lawsuits crop up as companies tend to downsize and employees are routinely laid off. In this example it’s an employment law that comes to the fore, dealing with various employer-employee disputes that arise.
Other types of law are arguably evergreen, in that their popularity will always be high, as is the case with property and intellectual property law.
People will always own possessions - both material and intellectual - so these fields of law are often in high demand, especially with a capitalist society wherein status is often determined by what one owns.
If you’re interested in studying law but you aren’t quite sure what you want to specialise in, this guide should help you reach an informed decision. Our goal here is to aim the spotlight at seven of the most in-demand fields of law so that you have a clear idea of what you can expect from each.
The first field of law we’re going to take a look at is property law.
As you’ve probably already guessed, this is a field that is concerned with all issues related to property and its ownership.
Should a dispute arise over a property, it’s property law that is called upon to come and save the day and settle it in a reasonable manner.
Another way of looking at property law is as the law of material possessions since it focuses on people’s relationship with the things they own.
This means that property in this sense doesn’t just refer to a house or home, but can also be anything from a small piece of jewellery to a large warehouse.
As such, property law can be an interesting subject to study and practise if you are interested in society’s relationship with things and how legally binding possessions are to individuals and groups.
On a deeper level, this type of law delves into the relationship we have to our wealth. This can allow us to draw conclusions about the wider economy, and the distribution and transfer of wealth within it.
You might at this point be thinking that property law covers a lot more than you initially assumed, and it’s true - it’s like an onion with many layers to peel if you are interested in doing that kind of detective work.
Speaking of detective work, that brings us to our next in-demand field of law: criminal law.
Criminal law is perhaps the most well-known field of all, made popular by the many hit TV drama shows that zero in on criminals and their interaction with the law.
But what is this field of law actually all about?
Well, this is the body of law that deals with everything related to criminal offenses and the perpetrators of the crimes.
If you’ve ever wondered how things like the charging of criminals and form of apprehension are determined, then criminal law is a field you might like to pursue.
Without criminal law, we would of course live in a lawless society in which there are no penalties or punishments for those who commit crimes. A world in which it’s safe to say not many people would enjoy living.
If you’ve ever entertained the idea of working in the police force because you enjoy the idea of protecting people but don’t want to come face-to-face with the criminals, practising criminal law could be the next best thing.
Commercial law, which also goes by the names of mercantile law and business law, is all about business dealings.
This is a field of law that outlines what the rules are with regard to commercial entities and their business deals, as well as issues pertaining to financial contracts.
Within the world of commerce and business, there are a great number of entities, each of which needs to adhere to their own set of laws.
For example, there’s the sole trader, the limited company, and the multinational corporation. Each entity has to act in accordance with laws defined by those who specialise in commercial law.
If there’s a business partnership, for instance, what happens if one of the partners decides to run away with the profits? Does the business dissolve if the partnership breaks up?
How is the business to be run if one partner were to pass away suddenly?
If you’re interested in answering questions like these and applying yourself to the world of business through law, then commercial law could be the right field for you.
Family law is a field that focuses on everything family-related. This includes but isn’t limited to adoption, child custody, and divorce.
If you find yourself fascinated by the traditional family unit, or by the connections and ties between parents and children, then family law is a great branch to get interested in.
This is a potentially fulfilling field in which you could ensure that children are matched with the right parents, and treated fairly within their family dynamic.
Family law doesn’t just refer to the family unit with parents and children, though, as it also tackles issues within marriages since marriage is the legal recognition of a couple.
Employment law broadly covers everything related to the relationship between the employer of a company and its employees.
Unlike commercial law which looks at the business entities themselves, employment law zooms in on the relationships within those entities to identify potential discrimination, health, and safety issues, and establish the rules for economic support.
The primary goal of employment law is to defend the rights of employees in the workplace and settle disputes over pay and other hot button issues such as compensation and wrongful termination.
Intellectual Property Law
Just as property law protects what is yours in a material sense, intellectual property law defends immaterial possessions such as ideas.
Intellectual property law is an intriguing field that is not what many people think about when they think of the law.
It is a field that is concerned with the laws that are created to protect creators’ rights, enforcing them when necessary.
Examples of the types of people you will deal with if you pursue intellectual property law are writers, musicians, and designers, though more or less any creative career will brush up against intellectual property law at some point.
Some of the key areas of this field of law are terms you will have heard of such as patents, trademarks, and copyright. There are also several terms you may not be familiar with such as trade secrets and many lawyers specialise in either contentious or non-contentious IP.
Civil litigation refers to the field of law concerned with resolving civil matters that are processed in a court of law.
This field encompasses a wide range of issues, such as company disputes, marriage issues, and any instance in which an individual or business wishes to file a suit against an individual or an entity.
Civil litigation is especially popular as a field of law at times when the economy is struggling since citizens will be more prone to seek financial compensation from other individuals and organizations when money is tight.
Within the field of civil litigation, there are various subspecialties that you could choose to study further. If you do opt to study one of the specific fields within civil litigation, the chances are you’ll have an even more coveted skillset as it will be more niche.
Some examples of civil litigation fields include insurance defense, personal injury lawsuits, and class actions.
If you like the idea of protecting individual citizens and helping them get justice and what they’re owed, then this is an excellent field to specialise in.
Superprof has a wide range of tutors who specialise in the various fields of law, so if you’re interested in exploring the subject further you can indulge your curiosity with someone who knows what they are talking about.
The platform that connects tutors and students