The study of law is the study of the beliefs and rules that allow a civilization to thrive. This, of course, covers a vast array of subjects, from those that affect just one individual to others that are global in nature. Law schools are a cornerstone of higher education, and within law departments there are several types of law that students may choose to study.

Contract Law

Contract law, which involves legally binding agreements between two or more parties, is a common field of law that is taught in many schools. The study of contract law covers a range of issues, from the sale or exchange of goods to employment and family matters. Within these areas, students learn how to approach such situations as contractual obligations, breach of contract and termination of contract. Those who specialize in contract law can work in several different fields, including real estate and entertainment.

Constitutional Law

Constitutional law focuses specifically on the interpretation and implementation of the United States Constitution. The study of constitutional law can cover judicial decisions as well as federal policy. Constitutional law also deals with the delicate balance between governmental power and the rights of individual citizens. All Supreme Court decisions are interpretations of constitutional law, which is why the Supreme Court and federal circuit court judges are specialists in this field.

Environmental Law

Compared with other types of law, environmental law is relatively new. It deals with the regulation of environmental standards in such areas as air and water pollution and hazardous waste disposal. Since many environmental rules and regulations are still being defined, this type of law often involves litigation between environmental agencies and large corporations. And because environmental issues are the concerns of the entire planet and not of just one particular country, environmental law often deals with international legally binding treaties.

Intellectual Property Law

Intellectual property law deals with distinct pieces of property, including artistic works, inventions and even words and phrases, and the creator's exclusive rights to that property. Common subdivisions within intellectual property law are copyrights, trademarks and patents. This type of law has a tendency to be abstract and ambiguous and therefore often involves litigation, either between two parties over the rights of property or between one party and the state. Large commercial companies often have their own divisions of trademark lawyers to keep their intellectual property protected.

Criminal Law

The Oxford English Dictionary defines criminal law as "a system of law concerned with the punishment of those who commit crimes." It is the first thing many people think of when they think of the phrase "the law." The study of criminal law involves not just current laws that are in place, but the procedure of an entire criminal trial, including the gathering of evidence and courtroom protocol, whether on the side of the defense or the prosecution. There are many positions for criminal lawyers in both the government/state and private sector.