What is Legal Studies?

Legal studies refer to an academic endeavor focused on learning laws, learning how to apply those laws, and learning how to process transactions and legal claims on behalf of clients. It is classified as a legal discipline or liberal arts discipline that engages the meanings, values, practices, and institutions of law and legality. Legal studies examine the ideas of law, its institutions, and practices.

At the Bachelor’s degree level, the coursework is more expansive and theoretical than the skill-specific classes that prepare a paralegal, for example, to enter the field. A legal studies degree aims for high-level careers, and are a good choice for not only those interested in law, but in public administration, public affairs, business administration, political science, and academia. The curriculum should stimulate critical understanding of and inquiry about the theoretical frameworks, historical dynamics, and the cultural entrenchment of law.

What are examples of Classes?

We have selected the following courses from different colleges that offer undergraduate programs in legal studies.

Law and Culture

A study of everyday life and social meaning organized around legal constructs and categories. Addresses the question-What are the cultural variations in representations, definitions, and manifestations of law across time and place?

Legal Research

This course is a practical introduction to the law library and its resources and the fundamentals of traditional and electronic legal research. The emphasis is on the paralegal’s practical role and skill in assisting the attorney in legal research.

Contract Law

This course examines contract basics by explaining what constitutes a contract and the various contract types. The course also examines who can enter into a contract, how to approach negotiation, designing a written contract, unfair and improper contracts, contract termination, and breach. The class may also include the study of the details on special contract situations, including real estate, financing, and social contracts, and Internet use.

Sociology of Law

This class examines the relationship between law and the distribution of power in society, with a particular emphasis on law and social change in the United States.

Constitutional Law

The material examines the many controversies over what, exactly, the Constitution means, who gets to decide, and how. You will discuss the judicial review, the powers of Congress and the executive branch, and the relationship between the federal government and the states.

Legal Writing

The class emphasizes case analysis and the preparation of both informal and formal legal memorandums.

There are schools that offer a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies degree program, which prepares students to pursue a variety of careers in the legal field, as well as future graduate study. One example is a program that features a curriculum designed around five central themes: legal institutions; processes of legal order and disorder; law and social forces; law and culture; and law and theory.

Legal Institutions: Classes in this theme group focus on those institutions involved in the creation and application of the law.

Processes of Legal Order and Disorder: This theme examines the dynamics of order at the individual and societal level.

Law and Social Forces: Courses in this group address social inequality, generally in the U.S. context, grounded in ethno-racial, gender, and sexuality-based difference.

Law and Culture: Coursework examines historical developments in or affecting law, non-Western legal thought or traditions, and the effect of cultural institutions such as religion, literature, or media on the law.

Law and Theory: Courses in this theme group focus on the ways in which “law” is treated as a working concept or as a subject of study in theoretical works.

As you review the selection of classes, keep in mind that there are also learning formats to choose from. You may prefer taking your bachelor’s degree online. One particular Legal Studies BA/BS degree, in addition to preparing students for law-related careers, provides a foundation for law school or other graduate education. Their full-time faculty members are attorneys who graduated from the American Bar Association (ABA) approved law schools.

Students who complete the above Legal Studies degree at the University of Central Florida are eligible to apply for The Florida Bar Registered Paralegal designation or to sit for the national paralegal certification exams. It is common to see schools that designate their program as a combination of legal studies and paralegal courses. Graduates of such programs will be eligible to pursue a variety of careers in the legal profession, including paralegal careers, law enforcement, and government, as well as future graduate study in law.

A well-rounded provision of classes affords career options. This entails classes, such as:

  • Legal Ethics and the Role of the Legal Professional
  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Legal Research, Analysis, and Writing
  • Civil Procedure and Pretrial Practice
  • Evidence, Investigation, and Discovery
  • Trial and Advanced Litigation Processes
  • Torts, Personal Injury Litigation, and Insurance Law

Additional Resources

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