Evaluation result: Lawyers need diverse competence – employment situation in the field of law is excellent

Higher education Virpi Pietiläinen

Education in the field of law provides diverse competence with a focus on general legal knowledge. A large number of degree programmes and continuous learning are offered and they cover the field comprehensively. However, to respond to future competence needs and to develop their teaching practices, higher education institutions must carry out multidimensional cooperation with other higher education institutions and together with the world of work. Lawyers with an excellent knowledge of Swedish and holders of a Bachelor of Business Administration degree focusing on law are also needed more in the field.

Between 2020 and 2021, the Finnish Education Evaluation Centre (FINEEC) evaluated the education provision in higher education in law, the competence produced by the degree programmes, the working life relevance of the education, and continuous learning. The evaluation looked at the strengths and development needs of the degree programmes. All the higher education institutions offering education in law and 33 degree programmes from universities and universities of applied sciences participated in the evaluation.

Graduates in the field of law find employment well – a shortage of Swedish-speaking professionals

The degrees in the field of law meet the needs of working life well as graduates with a Master of Laws degree find employment successfully and employment is only in the region of three per cent. Only the working life relevance of master’s programmes in international and comparative law was considered by students and stakeholders to be insufficient as the degree does not provide the statutory eligibility of lawyer for positions requiring it. There are also regional shortages of Swedish-speaking lawyers and holders of a bachelor’s degree in business management with a focus on law, for example, at the National Prosecution Authority and in courts of justice in bilingual areas.

The national degree structures in law mainly function well. Education in the field of law is provided as the Bachelor, Master and Doctor of Laws degrees and as part of the degrees in political sciences, administrative sciences and business administration. In addition, it is possible to select a Bachelor or Master of Business Administration degree with a focus on law at universities of applied sciences.

More attention should be paid to intended learning outcomes and working life skills

Education in law at universities focuses on the general education in jurisprudence and general legal knowledge. This focus supports students’ abilities to work in a wide variety of positions in the future and learn new things in their work. However, the teaching could be diversified by increasing the amount of interactive teaching and active learning. Students should also be given more feedback on their competence and more guidance should be provided to them. When the education and assessment practices are implemented, more attention should be paid to the intended learning outcomes that have been set and it should be considered how students could learn a wider variety of working life skills as part of their studies in law. Jukka Mähönen, the chair of the evaluation team, comments:

– What is needed in the field of law is courage to think about the future and reflection on how cooperation and a multidisciplinary approach can be used to identify skills that future law professionals will need in their increasingly diverse work tasks.

Developing degree programmes and continuous learning by improving cooperation

The evaluation team recommends that higher education institutions providing education in law have joint discussions on how the education could be developed and how their cooperation could be organised better. Although there is a wide range of continuous learning available in the field, more cooperation could be conducted to develop it and the responsible parties could be agreed more clearly. The representatives of the field conduct diverse cooperation with stakeholders, which could be used more in the development of degree programmes and continuous learning.


Inquiries and requests for interviews

Professor Jukka Mähönen, Chair of the evaluation team, tel. +358 50 472 2971, email  jukka.mahonen@helsinki.fi.

Mira Huusko, tel. +358 29 533 5565, mira.huusko @ karvi.fi

Evaluation report

Evaluation of higher education in law, Finnish Education Evaluation Centre, Publications 22:2021.