How a Legal Studies Degree Can Jumpstart Your Law Career

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 its own separate court system.

This provides states with the ability to legislate through state laws that are in areas that are not covered by the federal legal system.

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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 who 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 who currently has a degree 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: Working 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 Salary

The average salary for those working in legal studies was $59,200 as of May 2022.

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 $37,690 per year and those in the top 10% earned nearly $94,960.

Generally speaking, those who work in a large law firm or in a large city will earn more than those who work in a smaller law firm or a smaller city.

Salary Information by State

State Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Arkansas2,160- NA -- NA -- NA -- NA -
District of Columbia5,580$91,880$44.17$124,650$56,780
New Hampshire1,310$56,530$27.18$81,100$37,890
New Jersey9,580$65,570$31.52$96,480$38,650
New Mexico1,850$51,420$24.72$70,010$37,660
New York30,020$69,860$33.59$103,890$45,720
North Carolina12,290$56,120$26.98$81,310$35,920
North Dakota580$54,090$26.00$75,500$39,360
Rhode Island1,320- NA -- NA -- NA -- NA -
South Carolina6,150$52,060$25.03$65,960$37,300
South Dakota500$55,290$26.58$68,120$44,300
West Virginia1,990$50,380$24.22$77,230$28,760
Puerto Rico710$45,220$21.74$65,670$30,560
Virgin Islands70$54,500$26.20$70,620$43,880

Annual Average Salary: Top 10 States

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $91,880.

These are the top 10 earning states in the field:

  • District of Columbia - $91,880
  • California - $76,080
  • Washington - $72,590
  • Massachusetts - $71,670
  • New York - $69,860
  • Colorado - $68,920
  • Delaware - $68,340
  • Connecticut - $67,310
  • Oregon - $66,250
  • New Jersey - $65,570
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Paralegals and Legal Assistants, OCC Code 23-2011, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

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 of 4% from 2022 through 2032.

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 that 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.


About Tina Wolf

Tina Wolf has been working as a freelance writer for several years. She enjoys writing about the government and history as well as other legal topics. She authors a blog about parenting a high ability student as well as one about parenting in general. Connect with Tina: LinkedIn: Twitter: @wolfee21

3 Responses to How a Legal Studies Degree Can Jumpstart Your Law Career

  1. Avatar
    Kensley Bridges #

    As a recent graduate with a legal studies degree, I can attest to its value in launching a law career. The foundational knowledge and critical thinking skills gained have been indispensable in navigating the complexities of legal practice.

  2. Avatar
    Eric Rogers #

    I’ve found that a legal studies degree provides a well-rounded understanding of the legal system, which is essential for success in law school and beyond.

  3. Avatar
    Betty Scott #

    I’ve seen firsthand how a legal studies degree can open doors to various career paths within the legal field, from paralegal work to compliance roles.

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