The Why and How of a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies
In an increasingly interconnected society, various organizations are in constant need of legal expertise. The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Legal Studies is an essential bridge between an associate degree in legal studies, such as a Legal Studies Associate in Applied Science Degree (A.A.S.) and a Master of Laws (LL.M.).
A B.S. in Legal Studies does not qualify one as having attended law school and becoming eligible to sit for the bar examination. However, it does potentially enable you to enter the legal profession.
The B.S. in Legal Studies aims to enhance the knowledge and capabilities of the students for potential careers in various law-related fields as well as those dealing with social sciences. After going through the program, graduates can typically expect to be able to develop:
Historical Perspective - Indentify and understand how various historical events and personalities have shaped the modern-day legal system in the US.
Research Skills- Carry out legal research as well as become well-versed in the basics of legalese.
Writing Skills - Identify as well as draft legal documents using various legal instruments to assist in the policy making of organizations, as well as subpoenas and investigations.
Communication Skills - Understand and explain the different rights that are conferred by the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Constitution and its various amendments, including the Bill of Rights, on the citizens of the United States.
Critical Thinking - Make sense of the criminal and family laws and trace their evolution through the decades.
Apply – Select from a range of legal principles and incorporate them in real-life applications in cases dealing with economic, social and political matters.
Courses and Areas Covered
Though the courses across various B.S. programs in Legal Studies may vary, the core areas remain the same. Some of these include:
Introduction to the American Legal System
Legal Ethics and Professional Values
Writing for Legal Professionals
In addition to legal courses, most programs will have courses that have been designed to equip students with skills that they would require to perform effectively in a legal environment.
These may include areas such as:
Additional Benefits of a Bachelor in Legal Studies
Besides serving as a stepping stone to law school, the B.S. in Legal Studies can be beneficial otherwise as well.
Aid in preparation for certification exams for paralegals and legal assistants such as the following:
Certified Legal Assistant’s (CLA) Exam - National Association of Legal Assistants
Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE) - National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc. (NFPA)
Those who do not wish to go to law school upon graduation can also chose to opt for a master’s degree in related areas and broaden the scope of their career options. These areas can include:
Master of Public Administration
Master of Science in Environmental Policy
Master of Science in Legal Studies
Admissions Requirements in a B.S. in Legal Studies
Educational institutes offering this degree tend to have more or less similar admissions requirements. However, they may have specific preferences as well that govern the intake of students into this program.
Basic Requirements – A high school diploma or equivalent
Recommended Prerequisites – E.g. finance, accounting, income tax and computer science
Possible Career Paths
Where a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies will not allow you to practice law, it will still help in propelling you towards various respectable careers. The positions that you can possibly qualify for can be found across the board; in Federal and State-level governmental agencies, law firms, educational institutes, courthouses and private companies.
Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators
Arbitrators –They have expertise in a particular legal field and attempt to settle disputes between opposing parties.
Mediators – They facilitate opposing parties in dispute settlements but cannot make final decisions.
Conciliators – Though being similar to mediators, they meet with opposing sides separately rather than jointly. However, they cannot seek out evidence or call witnesses.
Median Annual Pay Range* - $42,210 - $109,470 (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
*The median salaries are based on positions ranging from those in health care and social assistance institutes to legal services in law firms and other organizations.
Expected Job Growth (2012-2022) – 10% (BLS)
Tasks and Duties - They assist attorneys in preparing for corporate meetings, trials as well as hearings, often working in teams that may also include paralegals and legal support staff. They also have to review and draft legal documents and may be required to be present with lawyers during trials when presenting exhibits, going through transcripts and taking notes.
Median Annual Pay - $46,990 (BLS)
Expected Job Growth (2012-2022) - 17% (BLS)
Tasks and Duties - They have to document all activities regarding the compliance of employees to company policies. They may also have to conduct investigations when necessary, such as in the cases of policy violation, fraud and embezzlement. Provide information to employees regarding rules and regulations in the form of trainings and circulars.
Median Annual Pay - $100,890 (O*Net)
Expected Job Growth (2012-2022) – 3% to 7% (O*Net)
Popular TV shows such as Boston Legal and Suits and movies such as A Few Good Men may have glamorized the life of attorneys, paralegals and legal assistants. Such entertainment even goes to the extent of injecting high-adrenaline action and intrigue, with lawyers presenting indisputable evidence like rabbits out of a hat. However, the bottom line is that a successful case preparation, trial and receiving a desired verdict takes a lot of hard work, research and analysis and prior knowledge. This is where a recognized degree such as a B.S. in Legal Studies can help you acquire the necessary edge.