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Legal Studies: A 2019 Outlook on Potential Legal Careers

Legal Studies: A 2019 Outlook on Potential Legal Careers

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By Dr. Alison Becker
Faculty Member, School of Security and Global Studies, American Public University

Start a legal studies degree program at American Public University.

Earning a legal studies degree is one way to learn about careers in the legal profession. For example, an associate degree might be of interest to aspiring legal assistants or entry-level paralegals. A bachelor’s degree in legal studies might open the door to law school. For those interested in becoming exceptionally knowledgeable in a narrow legal field or becoming a non-lawyer thought leader, earning a master’s degree in legal studies might serve your purposes.

The Law Touches All Other Fields

The law encompasses all career fields. Whether you are interested in accounting, interpreting, zoology, or even one of the high-tech sciences like cybersecurity, you will find that laws, regulations and/or contracts affect virtually all lines of work. Indeed, this is true even for an astronaut preparing to journey to the moon.

Legal Studies Degrees and the Expanding Realm of Legal Careers

The array of possible careers within the legal field is wider now than ever before. In fact, the career spectrum is still expanding because the legal world needs more than just legal secretaries, paralegals and lawyers. New vocational paths are opening for people interested in the law.

In some states, non-lawyers can now offer legal advice to people under restricted circumstances. For example, in Washington State, limited licensed legal technicians can assist people facing certain family law matters, such as divorce, separation and child support negotiations. Utah already has a similar program for its Licensed Paralegal Practitioners, and New Mexico is seriously considering a comparable step. Still other states allow non-lawyers to explain courthouse filing options to people needing help.

Then there are more traditional roles in business. Legal work depends quite heavily on research and analysis. Research services are always in demand.

Are you a bookkeeper, accountant or an office manager? Records and personnel managers’ skills are important in law offices too, because they keep hard and electronic copy files that must be archived, retained and retrieved when needed.

Start a legal studies degree program at American Public University.

Legal Offices Need Technical Personnel to Operate and Manage Their IT Systems

If you understand the IT mechanics of handling “big data,” you might find a professional home in a legal office.

In this digital era, legal offices need technical personnel to operate and manage their IT systems. Similarly, someone needs to secure the data, much of which is subject to attorney-client privilege. Lawyers have a duty to their clients to protect this sort of private information. Thus, IT professionals are needed who understand the legal protection requirements to secure not only that data, but also the firm’s networks and systems. Many lawyers either have not been trained how to do this work or do not have the time to handle it themselves.

Do you have a journalism background and an interest in the law? Often, people hear about some legal case, but do not necessarily understand how it might affect them or others they know. Enrolling in a legal studies program could help you explain some of the exciting things happening within the law. Your public commentary about the law – whether on a blog or in a local newspaper or magazine – could enlighten your community’s knowledge about new zoning restrictions, a funding bill before the city council, or controversial plans to raise tolls on a local bridge.

If you haven’t really thought about earning a legal studies degree, now might be a good time to think about it. You may well find that it can help you achieve your professional goals.

About the Author

Dr. Alison Becker has practiced governmental law for more than 25 years as well as provided various kinds of legal instruction and training.  She earned a B.A. and a J.D. from Northern Kentucky University prior to earning an Ed. D. from Northcentral University, with special emphasis on legal e-learning.

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