What Can You Do With A Legal Studies Degree?

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Legal studies is a liberal arts program, often offered by colleges and universities, that covers the basics of the study and practice of law. It is a subject that is particularly helpful for people interested in pursuing law degrees and careers in law. This article explores some useful terminology of legal studies, examples of higher education institutions that offer legal studies degree programs, and examples of careers available to people who have earned degrees in legal studies.

Studying Legal Studies

Legal studies is a rather broad discipline that involves various aspects of law and business. It is an ideal undergraduate degree program for students serious in pursuing degrees at esteemed law schools. Those enrolled in legal studies degree programs learn about the values and practices within the legal system and how they relate to field of business. Below is a list of some examples of legal jargon that may be useful should you choose to pursue a degree in legal studies for a career in law.

Admissible – acceptable for admittance; typically used to describe evidence allowed before a judge and jury in either a criminal or civil case

Case law – law based on outcomes of previous cases; a.k.a. legal precedent

Docket – official schedule or list of summaries of proceedings in a court of law

Habeas corpus – judicial order demanding law enforcement to bring a prisoner to court and give logical reason for the prisoner to remain behind bars

Impeachment – process of proving fallacy in a testimony provided by a witness

Litigation – lawsuit

Pro se – being your own lawyer, representing yourself in a court of law

Tort – unjust act or neglect resulting in harm or injury to an individual, an individual’s reputation or property, etc. (excluding breach of contract or trust); not considered a criminal wrong but a civil wrong

For even more legal terminology, check out the United States Courts website.

Legal Studies Degree Programs

In order to receive proper preparation for entry into a legal studies degree program, consult your high school guidance counselor. He or she may be able to advise you as to what courses your school offers that are relevant to studying law. Choosing a school can be a life-altering experience, so it is important that you take the time to consider which college or university offers the best legal studies degree program that suits your needs. It is also helpful to apply to at least three schools with programs that are of particular interest to you.

Erie, Pennsylvania is home to Gannon University, a Catholic school at which students are able to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies, an Associate of Arts in Legal Studies, or a Certificate in Legal Studies. These undergraduate degree programs in legal studies are designed to prepare students for careers in law or for even further education. Gannon University’s legal studies degree programs are excellent preparation for future law school students. These programs also helps students gain experience through required internships, where students can choose to get firsthand experience in one of a variety of job settings. These job settings include but are not limited to law firms, courts, real estate offices, and banks. Students may also be fortunate enough to land jobs through internships.

Post University offers an Online Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies for undergraduate students who struggle with complicated schedules that prevent the ease of attending on-campus classes on a daily basis. This online degree program is meant to help hone students’ analytical and decision-making skills while providing the education necessary to become paralegals in various environments or advance to law school to expand their qualifications for careers in law. Students learn the basics of governmental law, business law, and how they relate to society by experienced and highly educated faculty members at Post University.

Arizona State University offers a Master of Legal Studies for students interested in studying but not practicing law. Students aiming for high positions in various fields look to legal studies to better understand the laws and regulations within their industries of interest, and ASU’s Master of Legal Studies degree program provides students with many industries to choose from. Some areas of study include construction, real estate, tax, corporate business, and healthcare administration law. Full time students can earn their masters degree within one academic year, an option not available at many colleges and universities. The Master of Legal Studies may take up to three years to complete for part time students.

Careers in Legal Studies

Whether you are looking to practice law or are simply interested in gaining extensive knowledge to apply to other industries, it is important to have a good sense of direction. It is important to know where you plan to go with your degree, how high you want to soar. Determining what you want to do while still enrolled in a legal studies degree program will allow you to determine how to shape your academic experience.

Entry Level Careers in Legal Studies

With a bachelors degree in legal studies and little to no experience, you may find that you qualify for one or more of the positions described in this section. A great way to build experience is by taking on an internship while you are still enrolled at a college or university.

Court Clerk

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A court clerk helps keep things within the courthouse running smoothly. He or she often prepares and keeps track of the courthouse docket and other crucial documents for each case. Among other responsibilities, a court clerk may also administer the oath to witnesses before they provide their testimonies. Court clerks may enter the job with associate degrees in legal studies, paralegal studies, criminal justice, or other relevant subjects. They possess great communication skills in order to provide outstanding customer service to outsiders, and they also have good organizational skills.

Court clerks may earn over $29,000 annually, based on education and experience levels in addition to whether they work for local, state, or federal courthouses.

Legal Assistant

A legal assistant, as the name implies, assists a licensed lawyer in various ways. He or she performs basic secretarial tasks including but not limited to answering calls, scheduling appointments, and filing paperwork. It is also common practice for legal assistants to prepare case briefs and other necessary paperwork for lawyers before they meet with clients or attend hearings. Legal assistants often posses bachelor degrees in legal studies, paralegal studies, criminal justice, or other relevant subjects, and are familiar with legal jargon. They are also capable of meeting deadlines promptly, and they have very good written and verbal communication skills.

Legal assistants may earn more than $30,000 annually, based on education and experience levels as well as whether they work for public or private law firms.

Advanced Careers in Legal Studies

After completing your bachelors degree in legal studies and putting a few years of experience under your belt, or once you earn a masters degree in legal studies or related field, you just may qualify for at least one of the careers presented here.

Court Administrator

A court administrator serves as a manager, overseeing the administration department of a courthouse. He or she may be involved with budget management, typical legal procedures within the courthouse, and more. In addition, he or she may also have a say in who to hire or fire within the system of that particular courthouse. Court administrators usually possess a few years of experience within the legal system and degrees in legal studies, business management, or other relevant subjects. It is not uncommon for some to have master degrees, as well. They possess outstanding leadership qualities and are highly organized.

Court administrators may earn more than $48,000 annually, based on education and experience levels as well as whether they work for local, state, or federal courthouses.

Government Affairs Manager

A government affairs manager deals with government agencies in order to develop policies that assist in ensuring the legislative goals of a business or organization. He or she stays in the know of government happenings and new policies that may affect the business or organization for which he or she works and may serve as a liaison between the business or organization and government agencies. A government affairs manager possesses at least a bachelors degree in legal studies, public relations, or another relevant subject and also quite a few years of experience within his or her specific area of interest. A masters degree is also helpful for this particular career path.

Government affairs managers may earn over $70,000 annually, based on education and experience levels.

Companies that Hire People with Legal Studies Degrees

Law firms and other businesses and organizations around the world often hire people with legal studies degrees. Depending on the specific field you wish to enter, you may have tough competition. Internships and work study programs can help you gain experience and knowledge beyond that of someone who has just completed a degree program in legal studies, allowing you to stand out in the eyes of potential employers. Below is a brief list of places that hire people with legal studies degrees.

Experian – headquarters in Dublin, Ireland; locations in over 40 countries; hires positions for automotive government affairs managers, vice president of client services, business technical analysts, directors of strategies, regulatory affairs directors, etc.

WellCare Health Plans, Inc. – headquarters in Tampa, FL; hires positions for vice president of government affairs, government affairs analysts, marketing compliance liaisons, etc.

Kobre & Kim LLP – locations around the world; hires positions for legal recruitment and professional development coordinators, legal assistants, etc.

Legal studies is a subject that can be learned and used regardless of whether you plan to practice law. There are other career choices available to people with degrees in legal studies. It helps to have background knowledge in business, finances, or other subjects relevant to the career of your choice, as well.

Author: Rose Boettinger

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