A legal studies major gives students the opportunity to examine how laws impact society and how societal culture and changes affect laws. Schools offer both undergraduate and graduate degrees in legal studies. Such studies prepare graduates to work in a variety of occupations not only within law and politics but also in human services, public administration and education.
The most obvious career choice for the legal studies major is a legal office assistant or paralegal. Paralegals perform research, interview litigants and draft legal documents for attorneys in private practice, corporate legal departments and government offices. However, opportunities also exist to work more directly with courts as law clerks or more directly with the public through legal aid offices or nonprofit organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union. The degree also prepares for a career in law enforcement.
Education Positions and Advancement
Although a legal studies degree does not fulfill the requirements for graduates to practice law, undergraduate and graduate degrees in legal studies do prepare students well to continue their education by attending law school. They may elect to work in education with this background as well, working as teachers, student advisers, legal library assistants or student affairs officers. Although a graduate or law degree may be required for some higher education and librarian positions, the legal studies bachelor's degree forms a strong base.
The legal studies degree also gives graduates the skills needed for administrative or management careers, particularly in positions involving legal ramifications. For example, legal studies graduates may find opportunities working as administrators in hospitals, financial institutions, insurance companies and environmental compliance agencies. Labor relations officials or human resources managers may benefit from the legal studies background. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, human resources officials made an average of nearly $100,000 annually in 2012, for instance, making it a well-paying job for those with a bachelor's degree in legal studies.
Human Services and Finance
The University of California-Berkeley emphasizes that legal studies degrees focus on "preservation of human dignity," an attitude that prepares graduates well for jobs in human services. Legal studies degree holders work in child protective services and social work, a field the BLS indicates will grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2022. Students may combine finance with legal studies to obtain positions as data analysts, financial planners and even real estate agents, using their understanding of human interactions and law.
- University of California Berkeley: Legal Studies Program
- University of Central Florida: Legal Studies
- West Virginia University: Master of Legal Studies
- Ferris State University: What Can I Do with This Degree? Legal Studies
- University of Illinois Springfield: What You Can Do with This Degree
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Human Resources Managers
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Social Workers
- University of California Berkeley: What Can I Do with a Major in Legal Studies
Kristie Sweet has been writing professionally since 1982, most recently publishing for various websites on topics like health and wellness, and education. She holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Northern Colorado.