Legal studies is a course of study that looks at the law and justice system from historical and social perspectives. Unlike preprofessional legal programs, legal studies is a liberal arts program that considers questions of ethics, how historical events shape our legal system, and what impact laws and crimes have on society. This sort of education could, of course, lead you to law school or paralegal practice, but it could also lead you into politics, working as a historian, public interest advocacy, or public administration.
What Will I Learn in a Legal Studies Program?
Because legal studies is a broad field, many schools encourage or require specializations or minors. Your studies will likely include constitutional law, legal research and writing, philosophy of law, social science research, law and economics, and psychology and the law. Because of the comprehensive nature of the program, it will generally lead to a bachelor’s degree, although in order to become an attorney or government official, for example, a graduate degree may be a necessary next step.
Legal studies gives students excellent training in critical thinking, analytical skills, communication skills, and research, which means that its benefits extend to numerous careers. Lawyer positions (which can only be obtained after completing law school) are projected to grow by 13 percent during the 2008-2018 period, and paid an annual median wage of $113,240 in May 2009. Paralegals, growing at a much faster than average rate of 28 percent, earned $46,980. Historians are projected to grow at a rate of 11 percent, and earned $51,050. These are just a few examples careers you can pursue with a legal studies degree.