Individuals interested in studying law but do not want to submit to the rigors of law school may consider this degree. The typical baccalaureate takes four years to complete. You could be on your way to a rewarding career, whereas with the law route, you have three more years of schooling. Additionally, there is the cost of law school that averages $47,112 (tuition & fees) at private institutions, according to a survey of 180 ranked law schools by US News. The cost is around $20,000 less at in-state law schools.
Since you need a bachelor’s degree before applying for law school, legal studies may be a prudent choice. You can always decide later about law school. One factor that may influence your decision is money. U.S. News reported in the same survey as above that graduates of 72 of the 180 schools had a starting salary of more than $75,000. Graduates from 102 law schools had a median starting wage of $50,000 to $74,999. A law degree can provide a lucrative career in a variety of industries.
You have two choices – a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies. A short list of schools offers both. Generally, each program is 120 credits. You begin with the requisite General Education classes that comprise most undergraduate degrees. The subjects may include humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, mathematics, a foreign language, and composition. The purpose of the GE phase is to create well-rounded students whose knowledge extends beyond their chosen major.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison is one of the few schools offering an Arts and Science degree in Legal Studies. The difference between the two degrees is subtle. The Arts option has an additional foreign language. The Science degree requires two x three credit hours of math, computer science, or statistics, whereas the Arts program has one math course in the General Requirements.
Two subjects stressed in the Bachelor of Science degrees in Legal Studies are legal research and legal writing. Conducting research and preparing briefs are essential aspects of working in a law setting. In various jobs within the legal framework, one of your tasks could be to review and write a synopsis of case studies. You may prepare client correspondence, memorandums, and submit proposals using appropriate terminology. Before you master legalese, the curriculum may incorporate classes in effective writing and composition.
There are college programs that have a choice of concentrations. The specialties have the provision of tailoring your interests and career goals. Therefore, you can select classes in areas where you project your career to go. For examples, there might be courses in International Law, Military Law, Environmental Policy & Law, or Hospitality Law, and more.
In contrast to the above, there are schools whose curriculum is partially structured. Abraham Lincoln University’s Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies devotes 45 hours to a host of legal topics. Some of these include Torts, Litigation and Trial Practice, Real Property, Legal Research, Contracts, and Legal Analysis. During the electives coursework, you can choose fifteen courses from an extensive list. Here you can pick the ones that suit your job aspirations. Some of the subjects are Immigration Law, Intellectual Property Law, Bankruptcy, Estate Law, Employment Law, Education Law, and Juvenile Justice.
Education law may land employment in a school board or a law firm representing school administrators. Juvenile law may interest those who want to work within the juvenile criminal justice system. Employment law applies to human resources or as a legal assistant in a law firm that specializes in this branch of law. Intellectual Property Law is an expanding field that deals with trademarks, copyrights, and patent protection. All of these pertain to music, movies, logos, products names, slogans, and packaging.
A bachelor’s degree opens doors to a variety of careers in addition to those mentioned above. A sampling of potential positions are as a:
Compliance Officer: Your work in this capacity may entail reviewing corporate policies to ensure that they adhere to applicable laws, regulations, and contracts. You may also prepare contracts and proposals that pass the test of complying with federal and state laws. The job requires research, an analytical mind, and excellent communication and presentation skills.
Mediator: To avoid the cost and arduous process of litigation, a mediator brings opposing parties together to see if they can reach a solution. Persuasive skills and diplomacy are paramount for success in this role. You will use your writing skills to draft agreements that are mutually agreeable to both sides of the mediation.
Law Librarian: Large, prestigious law firms may require that their librarian have a law degree or Juris Doctor. However, your bachelor’s degree can be sufficient to seek employment in this field. A law librarian performs research for attorneys within the firm or the legal department of a corporation. Your legal studies education in litigation, case law, legal documents, contracts, and terms will be beneficial.
There is a myriad of places where your bachelor’s degree in legal studies is viable. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not report on all the potential applications of the degree. The BLS states that Legal Assistants and Paralegals jobs should grow at a rate of 15% through 2026. This percentage represents a change in 41,800 positions. The Bureau bases the median income of $50,410 on an Associate’s degree. However, higher paying jobs and opportunities will avail those with at least an undergraduate degree.