Online Law and Legal Studies Programs
The law is among the most complex and absorbing topics one can study, extending into many different aspects of life, from civil liberties to business practices to home ownership and more. Indeed, learning about the law can help you gain a richer understanding of how life in the United States is organized and adjudicated.
Many students of the law decide to pursue careers as attorneys or even judges, which are certainly the most high-profile legal careers one can choose. While these are certainly prestigious and rewarding careers, they are not the only option available for those who wish to study the law.
There are many different professions available for students achieving associate’s, bachelor, or graduate degrees in law without having to pass the stringent bar exam.
Indeed, the work required to become an attorney is taxing, and not everyone wishes to take on the rigorous coursework and testing needed to get one’s license. These individuals can still make vital contributions to the world of law, performing responsibilities that keep legal procedures running smoothly.
Some choose to use these professional opportunities as stepping stones to eventually becoming a lawyer, while others make longer term investments in these career paths. Whatever you decide, know that your legal education is providing you a meaningful foundation from which you can take control over your future.
What is an online legal studies program?
Legal studies programs are typically bachelor’s degree programs that teach the fundamentals of law as well as the skills needed to thrive in a legal career. These skills can include:
- Close reading of legal texts
- Case-related research
- Legal writing and argument
- Analyzing and interpreting the law
You’ll also learn important information about the U.S. Constitution, the branches of government and how they have evolved over history, and the basic procedures and protocols that go into U.S. court cases.
Legal studies program opportunities
Not every undergraduate university offers a formal legal studies program, though some schools offer concentrations in related fields, such as political science or U.S. government, that will share similar coursework. If you know you would like to major in legal studies specifically, be sure to do your research as you are applying to schools.
Legal studies programs are available in a variety of contexts. It is becoming more and more common for people to acquire a law or legal studies degree completely online giving them the freedom to get an education without changing their lives. This is a great option for those who wish to continue working while in school or have other responsibilities to juggle at the same time. It also can make school significantly affordable, sparing you the cost of transportation and potentially moving locations in order to attend school.
Programs in Law or Legal Studies can prepare you with the option and knowledge to continue on to become a lawyer or attorney and/or careers as a paralegal, legal assistant, secretary, or court stenographer. You will learn how the legal and judicial system work. These types of degrees at the undergraduate level will help create the best foundation and preparation for law school.
Careers for legal studies majors
There are many excellent professional opportunities for legal studies majors who do not wish to become licensed attorneys.
These positions play indispensable roles in the legal process, from administrative work that keeps operations running smoothly to uniquely skilled services that perform a crucial procedural function in courtroom law practices.
Some of the top non-lawyer legal job titles are the following:
- Legal assistant
- Legal secretary
- Jury consultant
- Hearing officer
- Court reporter
- Legal process server
- Law librarian
These roles can be employed within attorney firms, by local and state government, within corporations that have legal departments, at educational institutions, and more.
Legal career salary and job growth data
Because there are so many different careers in the legal arena outside of the traditional attorney path, the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not consolidate all salary data for legal careers in a single place. However, this article will provide two legal professions as case studies: mediators and
According to the BLS, arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators earn a mean annual salary of $98,920 per year. For those in the ninetieth percentile of earners, the numbers are especially impressive, with average wages reaching $194,630 or higher. Those earning the highest wages work in general medical and surgical hospitals, the federal executive branch, and colleges and universities.
The BLS projects an anticipated job growth rate of 6% for arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators by 2031, slightly exceeding the averages for occupations in the United States overall.
For court reporters and simultaneous captioners, meanwhile, the BLS reports a mean annual salary of $70,290, with those in the top ninetieth percentile earning $116,380 or more. The highest earners among court reporters are employed by colleges and universities, junior colleges, and government agencies at the local, state, and federal levels.
According to the BLS, court reporters can expect a solid job growth rate of 5% by 2031, in line with the average for occupations overall.
The case for attending legal studies graduate school
Most people assume that a graduate degree in law is exclusively designed to put you on the path to a lawyer’s career. While indeed, law school is a significant requirement in the process of pursuing licensure, there are other uses for a graduate level legal education that can lead to sustainable and remunerative careers.
Those who hold graduate level law degrees are qualified for expert positions in important legal proceedings without taking the bar exam.
These can include mediators in high-level cases, major advocacy work in realms such as human rights and labor law, negotiator positions for businesses, and more. Many of these professionals fulfill an important need for legal prowess that working lawyers are not able to provide. This means that opportunities for them can be abundant and highly rewarding.
Can I pursue a non-lawyer law job without a legal studies degree?
It depends on the job. Some jobs, like legal assistants, do not necessarily have formal educational requirements in order to qualify, but those who already hold legal studies degrees are likely to stand out as applicants, as they will come in possessing advanced knowledge of the law. Other, more specialized roles – such as mediators and court reporters – are more likely to need something in their educational background that reflects prior expertise in legal subjects.
Will I need additional certification to apply for non-lawyer jobs in the legal profession?
It depends on the job you are seeking as well as the state where you reside. In many cases, additional certification is not necessary but can be helpful, especially if you are seeking a higher-ranking role that requires additional expertise. Certifications can be an excellent way to assert your experience and abilities.
Will a legal studies degree help me get into law school?
A Bachelor’s in Legal Studies is not a requirement to get into law school, which means that for the sake of fairness it should not improve your chances of being accepted. However, having a legal studies degree can indicate your seriousness of purpose to graduate programs and will also pay off greatly while you are in school, as you will already come to school with the framework you need to dive into an advanced education in the law.