The Master’s of Legal Studies is not a pre-law or paralegal degree. It’s also not a “terminal” degree, like a juris doctorate. An MLS is designed to provide working professionals an understanding of the US legal system and how the law interacts with their industries. Online MLS programs introduce mid-career professionals to the legal aspects that most directly impact the fields they work in—knowledge that may be leveraged to improve career prospects.
Depending on your current role and job title, you may decide to enroll in an online MLS program to gain the legal framework necessary for career advancement. That’s why legal studies programs may appeal to individuals whose work includes mediation, compliance, contracts and negotiations. However, if you’re looking for new challenges and opportunities, a Master’s of Legal Studies may also open career possibilities in law-related fields.
MLS graduates equipped with an understanding of legal thought, legal processes, and the law’s relationship to other fields may be able to advance in their chosen career or jumpstart a new one—the options are only limited by your drive and imagination. The foundational legal skills you will be exposed to during your course of study—legal analysis and reasoning, negotiation, dispute resolution, etc.—are valuable for aspiring leaders and decision-makers across numerous fields such as healthcare, real estate and commerce. Your ability to assess the skills and strengths you acquire from the MLS degree and market them to an employer will impact what you can do with a Master’s of Legal Studies and how far the degree can take you.
Typically, students enrolled in online legal studies programs are looking to acquire specific knowledge and skills to complement their expertise and enhance career prospects. This is also why you may be interested in a specific track related to the career you have or the career you hope to start. Master’s of Legal Studies concentrations in areas such as healthcare, human resources and finance can help you market yourself as a legal expert in that field.
Keep in mind that the MLS degree does not necessarily guarantee employment in any particular field. However, there are a large number of jobs you may be able to compete for after studying law as an MLS student. Some of the roles you may be qualified to fill with the addition of a master’s degree in legal studies to your resume include:
Salaries for Legal Studies – What Can You Earn with an MLS Degree?
General MLS degree programs may introduce you to methods of arbitration, but students who are interested in focusing their careers on helping opposing parties settle disputes outside of court may be able to focus their online MLS degree with a concentration in mediation or dispute resolution. The BLS reports that the salary for arbitrators, mediators and conciliators was $59,770 in 2016.
Compliance officers ensure their organizations’ rules and regulations comply with local, state, and federal laws and regulations, as well as the laws and regulations of regulatory agencies. The mean annual salary for compliance officers in 2016 was $70,250.
Individuals with a sales background may be able to transition to a role as a purchasing agent with a Master’s of Legal Studies under their belts. One of the primary duties of a purchasing agent, according to the BLS, is to “evaluate and monitor contracts to be sure that vendors and suppliers comply with the terms and conditions of the contract.” The median annual salary for buyers and purchasing agents in 2016 was $60,700.
If you have experience in the business sector, a master’s degree in legal studies may give you the requisite skills and knowledge to pursue a high-level position in operations management. As an operations manager, you will help plan, direct and coordinate the operations of a public or private sector organization. The MLS degree may be particularly helpful for aspiring operations managers in fields or sectors that are highly regulated and subject to legal complexities. The mean annual salary for operations managers in 2016 was $122,090.
If you have a background in human resources, the next step in your career may be to become a human resources manager or director. Studying legal theories and procedures specific to HR may help you in your pursuit of a managerial position. The BLS reports that the median salary for human resources managers was $106,910 in 2016.
You may also be able to leverage your professional experience by becoming an analyst in your field of expertise. Depending on the knowledge and experience you have in a particular line of work, a master’s degree in legal studies may allow you to advise clients on legal and business matters affecting their organization. The BLS reports that the salary for management analysts was $81,330 per year in 2016.
For a more in-depth look at the job titles that you may be able to pursue by adding a Master’s of Legal Studies to your professional repertoire, check out this table of occupational employment statistics for legal services careers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A Master’s of Legal Studies is especially useful in today’s job market because every industry is affected by the law. Those who understand compliance issues and how to avoid costly litigation are especially valuable across all industries, as are those with negotiation and dispute resolution skills. The following are some of the top industries affected by compliance and regulations, and why a Master’s of Legal Studies can be useful in advancing a career in each.
- Government and Military: According to occupational employment statistics, the top three industries with the highest levels of employment for compliance officers are the federal executive branch, state government and local government—and government is just one of many industries that deal with conformity to laws and regulations.
- Healthcare: Administrators with a legal framework are needed to help govern the organization, financing and delivery of healthcare services in the United States. In fact, the entire health delivery system is based on a series of contracts, so it makes sense for leaders in the field to be well versed in the legal components of drafting, negotiating and enforcing contracts.
- Information Technology: As the internet continues to grow, so does the need for highly trained corporate officers. Many of these oversee information security, help government agencies develop policy and ensure regulatory compliance.
- Financial Sector: The financial sector has always been a highly regulated industry. There continues to be high demand for persons with the training and experience needed to protect investments and financial services. These employees help firms remain solvent and profitable, handle public relations and help keep the company safe from liability claims and regulatory issues.
During the course of the MLS program, you will encounter a curriculum similar to that of a first-year law student. As such, you should learn many fundamental legal skills during your studies that you may be able to leverage for an advanced position.
Employers may not be too familiar with the MLS degree, so it’s important that you highlight the skills you’ve acquired by virtue of having completed an online Master’s of Legal Studies program. When talking about your MLS degree, relate your legal knowledge and skills to the field you will be entering and, more specifically, to the role you will be filling. Employers want to hear how you will apply your legal expertise to help solve real-world problems specific to them and their industry. If you pursue a specialization within legal studies, you will be able to relate your MLS degree more clearly with the problems and needs facing various organizations, agencies and corporations.
Online MLS Degree Programs
Compare online MLS degree programs and find the one that best suits your needs.