Careers in Legal Studies
Legal studies is a discipline that prepares students to work in entry-level positions in the legal field and the legislative and justice systems, where a strong background in the legal system is necessary or beneficial. While graduates with legal studies degrees are not able to practice law without going on to pursue law degrees, they will have learned the skills to analyze and draft legal documents, do legal research, and conduct legal interviews to obtain needed information.
Legal studies professionals often work for lawyers as paralegals, law office administrators or law clerks. They also work in the justice system as court administrators or court reporters. Those with backgrounds in legal studies often go on to work on Capitol Hill as lobbyists, activists, or legislative researchers. While salary and benefits vary depending on the exact position, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics cited a median salary of $46,680 per year for paralegals and legal assistants in 2010, and job opportunity is expected in increase by about 18%, which is in line with the national average for all industries.
Required Education for Legal Studies
The minimum degree needed to work as a paralegal, court administrator, or law office administrator is an associate degree, but employers often prefer candidates with bachelor’s degrees. For those seeking entry into more advanced positions in legal research or document preparation, a bachelor’s degree will most likely be required.
Any legal studies program should encompass all aspects of the legal system and place a large focus on critical thinking, legal history, writing, and law theory. Course work often includes legal documentation, legal research, case law, constitutional interpretation, legal analysis, ethics, the U.S. legal system, and business law. These courses will provide an inside view of the lawmaking process and legal system and prepare students to perform research and draft legal documents at an advanced level.