Law Degree & Career Guide

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What Is Law?

Lawyers are not the only professionals in the legal world; while a juris doctor (JD) degree is a common pathway to a legal career, additional academic options are available for individuals interested in the field. Whether someone is pursuing a paralegal career or earning a bachelor’s in legal studies in preparation for law school, legal degree programs often lead to careers that boast faster-than-average job growth.

While course requirements can vary in legal studies programs, these pathways typically provide learners with foundational legal knowledge. Law students investigate how laws shape our communities at the local, state, and federal levels. They also learn how laws preserve individual rights and promote social order. Some programs offer academic concentrations in areas like business law, criminal justice, and pre-law.

Frequently Asked Questions About Law

What can you do with a legal studies degree?

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Earning a legal studies degree can prepare graduates for various careers within the legal field. Bachelor's programs may offer academic concentrations in business law, pre-law, criminal justice, and paralegal studies. Legal studies graduates gain a broad understanding of various legal topics. They often prepare for careers as paralegals, legal assistants, and court reporters.

Throughout a bachelor's in legal studies program, students complete courses like civil litigation, legal writing, and legal research. As a result, these students hone essential skills applicable to both the legal world and other careers with a legal component. Other standard courses include legal ethics, the American legal system, and criminal law and procedures.

How much does a paralegal make?

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Paralegals work with attorneys to meet client needs and conduct case research. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, paralegals and legal assistants earned a median salary of over $56,000 per year in 2021. However, paralegal compensation can vary significantly depending on a worker's experience, law firm, and industry. The top 10% of paralegals made more than $88,640 annually in 2021.

Additionally, completing a paralegal graduate certificate program can enhance career options and increase earning potential for workers in the field. Standard certificate classes cover topics such as paralegal business law, paralegal contract law, and paralegal tort law.

What are the different types of law degrees?

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The legal world is home to many career options, degrees, and certificate programs. In addition to a juris doctor degree, which can lead to a career as a lawyer, other options include undergraduate and graduate legal studies programs, associate paralegal programs, and various certificate programs.

Standard bachelor's in legal studies programs typically take students about four years of full-time study to complete. Students interested in entering the workforce more quickly can complete an associate in paralegal studies in two years. Additionally, those pursuing a graduate certificate program can often satisfy requirements in a year or less.

Can I get a legal studies degree online?

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Online programs provide working students an accessible — and often more affordable — academic option that allows learners to complete requirements entirely online. Various undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs in legal studies are available through distance learning programs. In addition to their flexibility, online programs can help students save money on campus-based fees and travel costs.

Whether pursuing an associate in paralegal studies or a master's in legal studies, many online programs allow degree-seekers to complete coursework at their own pace through asynchronous coursework. This gives students the flexibility needed to juggle academic, professional, and personal obligations.

Is a law degree worth it?

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For individuals interested in pursuing a career in a legal environment, a law or legal studies degree can definitely be worth it. Whether someone wants to work as a paralegal or a lawyer, an undergraduate legal studies degree can help hone the skills needed to begin a career or prepare for law school.

However, a four-year degree is not entirely essential for someone wanting to enter the legal workforce. Students can complete an associate degree in paralegal studies in two years of full-time coursework. Additionally, certificate programs offer specialized knowledge that students can obtain relatively quickly.

How long does it take to get a law degree?

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The length of a law-related degree program depends on the type of degree. A bachelor's in legal studies allows full-time learners to earn their diploma in about four years. Degree-seekers tackling an associate degree in paralegal studies typically graduate after two years of full-time attendance.

However, many online programs offer generous transfer policies, allowing some students to complete requirements at a quicker pace. In contrast, part-time students and those juggling various professional and personal responsibilities may take longer to earn their legal studies degree.

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