Because different countries and territories have legal systems of their own, an understanding of international laws helps individuals and businesses navigate issues concerning legalities. Knowledge of foreign laws regarding taxation or trade help determine the international border transport rules and limitations to observe.

This is where Comparative Law as an academic discipline comes in.

A Doctor of Comparative Law (D.C.L.) degree is obtainable online. Unfortunately, online doctorate programs are not accredited by the American Bar Association. The current academic format, both online and on-campus, facilitates quality training and the demanding task of finishing a law dissertation.

What is Comparative Law?

Comparative Law is a foundational course in law school that studies the similarities and differences of legal systems in countries, states, and political entities of the contemporary world. Through the application of methodologies, Comparative Law teaches, compares, and contrasts existing laws worldwide, leading to an in-depth understanding of the global community.

Key topics in Comparative Law concern politics, religion, international criminal law, and finance. For instance, transnational faith-based legislations are an essential part of comparative law. Knowledge in the Sharia law is crucial in the drafting of regulations for Muslim countries. In the same way, familiarity with the Canon laws augments the crafting of policies in Catholic communities.

What sort of accreditation should I look for in a school?

Every law school in the US is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). Without accreditation from ABA, graduates from teaching institutions are not allowed to take the US bar examination. Unless recognized by the ABA, a doctorate law program, such as a Doctor of Comparative Law degree, is invalid.

In California, however, you don’t need to attend an ABA-accredited school to become a lawyer. That said, your school needs to be accredited by the California Bar Association (CBA), a regional accrediting body. Law schools without accreditation from ABA in California only offer up to Juris Doctor (J.D.) and Masters of Laws (LLM) degree. To date, the CBA does not accredit doctorate level programs.

How do I earn my D.C.L. degree?

In the United States, you need to hold a Master’s Level in Law (LL.M.), Masters of Studies in Law (M.S.L.), or Master of Jurisprudence (M.S.J). In exceptional cases, like in the Louisiana State University, you can pursue the D.C.L. as an extended option for your Juris Doctor degree. You will need to spend 15 more credit hours focusing on Comparative Law.

Typically, a Master’s in Law degree holder spends at least two years in school. The curriculum requires regular attendance to faculty meetups and active participation in research activities organized by the school. The student needs to enroll in at least two courses related to their dissertation.

The dissertation is the most mentally-tasking challenge for a D.C.L. student. At the start of the D.C.L. program, students should work closely with a supervisor. Students periodically submit a progress report to their mentor to keep track of timelines and ensure work completion. Once the Dean of Studies approves the dissertation, the candidate is eligible to obtain the D.C.L degree.

Again, law schools offer hybrid and online programs for Juris Doctor (J.D.) and Masters of Laws (LLM) degrees only. While there are distance learning programs, they are not accredited by the ABA. To be sure, check all your options and consider the disadvantages of earning a degree from non-accredited online schools.

What type of degree do I need to pursue research or educate others in Comparative Law?

A lawyer with a D.C.L. or Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.S.D.) degree that specializes in Comparative Law or International Law can teach in D.C.L. law schools. Dissertations in this doctoral program are expected to contribute to the enrichment of the field.

What kind of career and salary can I expect with my D.C.L. degree?

D.C.L. is a professional doctorate in law with some leanings towards the academic realm (compared to more practical law areas like criminology and civil law). There is no surprise that a lot of D.C.L. degree holders end up in academia or research firms. Some even work for the government and represent their state or country to foreign dignitaries.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that law professors earn on the range of $115,475 and $227,830 per year. Lawyers, on the other hand, make roughly $119,250 annually. Expect a higher figure than that with a Doctor of Comparative Law degree that opens doors of opportunities for you to take on senior positions in law firms.

Do I need a license to be a lawyer specializing in Comparative Law?

You need to pass the bar exam to become a lawyer after earning a Juris Doctor degree, but no regulation requires a Doctor of Comparative Law to take another licensure exam to prove that you do indeed have a doctorate. Your D.C.L. diploma is proof enough of your hard work and contribution to the field.

What schools offer Doctor of Comparative Law degrees?

The following ABA-accredited schools award the Doctor of Comparative Law degree: Fordham University in New York City, New York; University of Chicago Law School in Chicago, Illinois; and Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

While not offering the D.C.L. degree, the Golden Gate University in San Francisco, California awards the Doctor of Jurisprudence degree with a concentration in International Legal Studies.

It’s a world of conflicts and arguments, particularly as it pertains to global laws. Become a Doctor of Comparative Law for in-depth knowledge of these legal parallelisms and intersections.