Many people consider a degree in legal studies as an entry into the world of law. It is important to understand the history of the legal field when considering a legal studies education. In the United States the legal system was developed mainly from the common law system that is found in England. Louisiana is one state that actually followed the French Civilian legal system even after they were admitted into statehood.
There are also some legal concepts taken from Spanish law that are found within the legal system. This includes community property and prior appropriation doctrines that are found in some of the states.
The doctrine of federalism provides each state with their own separate court system. This provides states with the ability to legislate through state laws that are in areas that are not covered through the federal legal system.
Becoming a Paralegal or Legal Assistant
The majority of legal assistants and paralegals will have an associate’s degree in legal studies. Some people working in the field obtain a bachelor’s degree in legal studies or another field and obtain a certificate in legal studies. There are some employers who will hire a college graduate that does not have any legal experience or education and then offer on the job training. However, the best way to ensure a career in the legal field is by obtaining at least an associate’s degree in the field.
Types of Programs Available
There are several legal studies schools available in every state. A candidate may choose to enroll at a community college that offers an associate’s degree in legal studies. There are some schools that offer bachelor’s degrees in legal studies as well as master’s degrees. A person that currently has a in another area may choose to attend a certificate program.
All of these programs are available at brick and mortar schools in most states. In addition, there are legal studies online programs available. The online programs may be all or partly available online. Many people choose an online program because it is more flexible than a program offered at a college or university.
What Qualities do I Need to Pursue a Legal Studies Degree?
There are several qualities that a person should have if they are interested in working in the legal field. These include:
* Computer Skills: computers are used for litigation support as well as research. There are also computer programs used on the job to help maintain and organize important documents.
* Organizational Skills: work as a paralegal or legal assistant will require that a person deal with several cases at a time. It is important to be extremely organized so that you can adapt to deadlines that may change quickly.
* Interpersonal Skills: working with professionals and clients is part of the job and a person
must be able to create and develop good relationships. Part of the job is making a client feel comfortable enough to share their personal information.
* Research Skills: conducting research is an important part of the job and those working in the field must be good at it.
* Writing and Speaking Skills: presenting research through writing and speaking is an important part of the job.
Legal Studies Career Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics employment of legal assistants and paralegals is expected to grow at an average rate from 2010 through 2020. Many employers are trying to reduce costs and to increase the efficiency of legal services in the next few years and because of this many law firms are hiring more paralegals. The reason for this is because legal assistants and paralegals can be cheaper than hiring lawyers and also can perform a number of duties, many of which were once completed by lawyers.
Most of the legal studies jobs will be in law firms. However, there are many corporations that are expanding their legal teams as well.
Legal Studies Salary
The average salary for those working in legal studies was $46,680 as of May, 2010. This is the wage that half of the people employed in the field earned more than and half earned less. Those on the low end of wages earned around $30,000 per year and those in the top 10% earned near $75,000.
Generally speaking those that work in a large law firm or in a large city will earn more than those that work in a smaller law firm or a smaller city.