The legal studies degree program seeks to expand students’ academic and professional development by providing a solid foundation in legal doctrine and concepts, while expounding on students’ ability to identify and analyze legal issues. It covers major substantive areas of legal study and approaches the law from a wide variety of methodological perspectives. The program encompasses a Certificate in Paralegal Studies, an Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies, a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies, and a Master of Arts in Legal Studies. The program prepares students to pursue career opportunities in law, law-related fields, government, business, and serves as a background for further graduate study.
Decision Making - Weighing out the options in a situation or a problem and logically choosing the best course of action.
Listening - Paying attention to what other people are saying, and taking time to understand the points being made.
Managing Time - Allocating and budgeting your time for different tasks so that things get done when needed.
Negotiating - Bringing people together to discuss and resolve differences.
Persuasion - Persuading, encouraging, and motivating others to accept your ideas.
Reading Comprehension - Ability to understand complex written paragraphs, instructions, or reports.
Reasoning - Using logic to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Speaking - Talking, giving speeches, or speaking in a group to convey information, explain ideas, or give instructions.
Writing and Authoring - Composing and communicating your ideas in written form.
Problem Solving - Ability to identify a problem, review related information, develop and evaluate options, and implement a solution.
Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of the reactions of others, and understanding why they react the way they do.
A logical next step for many legal studies students is law school. While the admission process for every law school is different, all require completion of the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). The LSAT is made up of a total of six sections: five sections of multiple-choice questions and one section with a writing sample. For more information on law school and the LSAT, check out the Law School Admission Council’s (LSAC) website.
It is important to note that APUS’s legal studies program does not prepare students for the practice of law. Graduates are not eligible for admission to the Bar of any state based solely on their completion of this program, although some states do not require a Juris Doctor degree for Bar entry.
To identify what education or training is typical for careers within the legal studies field, use the O*Net hyperlinks below and click on “Job Zone.” In addition, seek out the advice of fellow students and alumni working in the industry in our mentoring program on The Quad (for current students and alumni only) or speak with a career coach.
As with all majors, the education you receive serves as a foundation of knowledge that prepares you for what you may face in the professional world. The career field you chose may require additional education or experience.
Administrative Law Judges, Adjudicators, and Hearing Officers
Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators
Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates
Judicial Law Clerks
Law Teachers, Postsecondary
Legal Support Workers, All Other
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Gaining real-life experience is an ideal way to start a new career. The career services website has an extensive list of internships and fellowships. Browse through the internships; they are organized by interest or by federal program.
There are government-organized internship programs which provide students or recent graduates the opportunity to gain real-life experience. Many require students to maintain either a half-time or full-time student status. The best ways to identify potential opportunities such as these is to contact branch offices directly, to search USAJobs.gov, or to look at the agencies’ career portals. Keep in mind that these positions are not always posted online, so direct contact with the agency is key.
The Pathways Program is a federal initiative that offers internship programs for current students as well as training and career development opportunities for recent graduates. Recent graduates must apply within two years of degree or certificate completion (except for veterans; due to their military service obligation, they have up to six years to apply). The internship program for current students replaces the former Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP).
The Presidential Management Fellows Program (PMF)
PMF is designed to attract outstanding federal service members from a wide variety of academic disciplines who have a clear interest in, and commitment to, a career in the analysis and management of public policies and programs. To be eligible, an individual must be a graduate student completing or expected to complete, during the current academic year, an advanced degree. Graduate students who have had their degree conferred in the preceding two years from the opening of the vacancy announcement are also eligible for PMF.
The Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP)
WRP is coordinated by the Office of Disability Employment Policy and the U.S. Department of Defense, and aims to provide summer work experience and, in some cases, full-time employment to college students with disabilities. The program develops partnerships with other federal agencies, each of which makes a commitment to provide summer jobs and a staff recruiter. Each year, recruiters interview about 1,500 students with disabilities at college and university campuses across the nation and develop a database listing the qualifications of each student.
There are several government agencies and organizations that seek candidates with degrees in legal studies. The list below provides some examples of those federal agencies. Each position within the federal government is classified under a series of numbers. For example, the “Legal and Kindred Group” is within the 0900 series. You can narrow down the exact series number based on your interests and search for it on USAjobs.gov across hundreds of federal agencies. Click here to see a list of federal positions by major.
While many of the major job search engines will have positions in several fields to choose from, the list below is specific to the legal studies field.
Involvement in professional organizations is a great way to stay up-to-date on new technology, tools, and best practices in your field. Professional organizations are also a great networking opportunity. Below are a few professional organizations you may be interested in as a legal studies major.
American Immigration Lawyers Association
June 18-21, 2014
Colorado Trial Lawyers Association Convention
Aug. 7-9, 2014
Illinois Trial Lawyers Association 41th Annual Convention
June 6, 2014
Oak Brook, Ill.
Interlaw Global Meeting
International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Meeting
Sept. 10-14, 2014
International Association of Young Lawyers 52nd Annual Congress
Aug. 26-30, 2014
Prague, Czech Republic
Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys Annual Meeting
June 26-29, 2014
Pennsylvania Association for Justice
June 26-29, 2014
Tennessee Association for Justice
June 12-13, 2014
Washington Defense Trial Lawyers Annual Meeting and Convention
July 10-13, 2014
West Virginia Association for Justice
June 5-6, 2014
Charleston, W. Va.