There are four different types of jurisprudence stemming from Roman law, and are academic, comparative, ethical and philosophical. The study of legal systems based on different underpinnings, such as Islamic law or Indian law, can still be evaluated along the same concepts as common Western jurisprudence, although the comparative components may vary. Types can be further differentiated into schools of thought.
The philosophy of law, the comparison of legal systems, and the importance of law in society make up the basis of jurisprudential study. Legal scholars focus on specific aspects of the law to drive their synthesis of the issues and theories. Written works are published on topics, which are then grouped into general categories of analysis and further segregated by analytical approach, or schools of thought. Although the categories are defined by content and are not formally labeled, an informal title can be applied to each type.
Academic jurisprudence is the study of an entire legal topic, such as contracts law or constitutional law. This type of study of the law produces textbooks and legal encyclopedias in addition to other legal compendium. Professors, law schools, and law students regularly contribute to this body of knowledge.
Comparative jurisprudence compares the law and its application to other academic disciplines, such as religion or economics. The scholar in this area of study produces legal papers for publication that seek to establish the importance of law in the paradigm of academic constructs. Experts in this area are often called upon to place legal issues in context.
Ethical, or fundamental, jurisprudence is concerned with the history of the law, its moral mandate, and its cultural basis. Topics in this area of study might be termed legal ethics, and address the social contract between the public and the legal system. Scholars would study the integral role of the law in society and how the importance of the law has changed over time.
Philosophical jurisprudence concerns itself with the philosophy of the law. It answers questions about the nature of the law and why it is important to a modern society. Legal philosophy is a popular area of study and often drives legal reform.
Schools of thought also vary within these categories. A school of thought is a conceptual framework, or theory, that is applied to the analysis. There are various jurisprudential schools, but some of the most common are formalism, realism, positivism, and natural law.