10 things you can do with a legal studies degree

Ten Things You Can Do With A Legal Studies Degree
Legal studies is an interesting field and a popular major. What can you do with your legal studies degree? Let's explore your career options.

Whether you already have a degree or you’re thinking about pursuing one, it’s natural to wonder exactly what you can do with a legal studies degree. After all, “legal studies” is a general topic, and the US legal landscape is wide.

The importance of the legal system to American culture cannot be understated.

True crime shows, once the fodder of obscure cable channels, now generate hundreds of millions of dollars for major streaming services.

In 2022, Court TV shattered its viewership records when it aired a civil lawsuit between two celebrities.

Even YouTube has gotten into the law game with some of its most popular law-related channels boasting over 200,000 subscribers.

Of course, popular culture tends to influence society at large. It’s no surprise then that legal studies programs have become so popular in the United States. In 2023, legal studies was the 126th most popular major for college students.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what legal studies programs are and, more importantly, what you can do with a degree in it.

What is a legal studies program?

A legal studies program examines the practical application of laws as they impact different segments of society including business, government, culture, and criminal justice.

Although some students may continue on to law school after earning a legal studies degree, there are many fascinating careers one can pursue without spending the time and money required for a Juris Doctor.

In addition to supplying a base legal knowledge that is helpful across industries, a legal studies degree also provides several core skills that give legal studies majors an advantage in business, like:

  • Concise writing and communication abilities
  • Investigation and analysis skills
  • Advanced research capabilities
  • Legal research experience
  • Understanding of courtroom procedure
  • Experience reading and understanding legalese

These skills are valuable to lots of companies that aren’t in the legal space. Of course, you can pursue a position within the legal industry, too. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular jobs for legal studies graduates.

Using a legal studies degree to enter the legal profession

A legal studies degree can be a valuable educational pathway for those interested in pursuing a career as a lawyer or paralegal.

Here’s how it can benefit you in each of these professions:

Becoming a lawyer

  • Preparation for law school: A legal studies degree can provide you with a strong foundation in legal concepts, theories, and principles. This can be advantageous when applying to law schools, as you will already have a basic understanding of the legal field.
  • Critical thinking and analytical skills: Programs often emphasize critical thinking, research, and analytical skills, all of which are crucial for success in law school and in the legal profession.
  • Research skills: Law school and legal practice require extensive legal research.It can can help you develop these skills, which are fundamental in a legal career.
  • Networking opportunities: Many programs offer opportunities to connect with professors, legal professionals, and fellow students who can provide valuable insights and contacts as you pursue a legal career.

Becoming a paralegal

  • In-depth legal knowledge: A legal studies degree can equip you with a deep understanding of the law, which is beneficial for paralegals who must work closely with lawyers on legal research, drafting documents, and client interaction.
  • Research and writing skills: Paralegals often engage in legal research and document preparation. A legal studies degree can help you develop the research and writing skills needed for this role.
  • Ethical and professional standards: Legal studies programs typically cover the ethical and professional standards that are important in the legal field. Paralegals must adhere to these standards in their work.
  • Advanced roles: Some legal studies programs offer specialized coursework that can prepare you for more advanced paralegal roles in specific areas of law, such as family law or intellectual property.

In both cases, it’s important to research the specific requirements and regulations in your jurisdiction, as they can vary in terms of what’s needed to pass the bar.

For example, becoming a lawyer typically requires attending an accredited law school and passing the bar exam.

In some states, like California, prospective lawyers are not required to attend a law school, and anyone may attempt to take the bar.

Paralegals, meanwhile, may need to complete a paralegal certificate program or have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a related field.

Gaining practical experience through internships or part-time work in law firms can also be valuable for both career paths.

Ultimately, a legal studies degree can serve as a solid foundation for a legal career, whether you decide to become a lawyer or paralegal, or pursue another career in the legal industry.

What else can you do with a degree in legal studies?

While the skills you learned in your degree program are highly applicable, these careers are natural choices for legal studies majors.

#1: Police officer

Police officers with a legal studies degree come to the profession with an exceptional grasp on civil and criminal rights, constitutional protections, criminal investigations, and proper evidence gathering.

Policing jobs are available at the city, county, state, and federal levels. Entry level jobs tend to include routine patrol duties, while advanced jobs include detective work and departmental management.

Average salary in the U.S.: $59,632

#2: Paralegal

Paralegals probably benefit from a legal studies degree more than another other profession as they typically serve as the right arms of attorneys.

A legal studies degree will provide an extraordinary understanding of procedural rules and customs, the discovery process, and trial preparation and presentation.

Entry level jobs may be focused on administrative tasks such as document review and calendaring, while more advanced paralegals can serve as an integral part of a trial team. Paralegals may also work on a freelance or contract basis.

In some states, paralegals are allowed to practice substantive law in limited practice areas such as family law or landlord-tenant law.

Average salary in the U.S.: $56,444

#3: Real estate agent

Real estate agents facilitate the purchase and sale of real estate including residential, commercial, and undeveloped properties.

While you don’t need to obtain a degree in order to become a realtor, a legal studies degree does prepare real estate agents for contract negotiations and execution, analysis of zoning laws and other local regulations, as well as for more esoteric issues, such as property line disputes and fraudulent omissions.

Having a legal studies degree is especially beneficial for those who want to pursue a specialty like short sales or specific types of commercial property.

Average salary in the U.S.: $95,015

#4: Legislative assistant

Legislative assistants assist state and federal lawmakers with their day-to-day responsibilities. Duties may include legal research and drafting memoranda regarding proposed laws, policies, and positions.

An entry-level assistant is likely to work on administrative tasks such as scheduling, whereas experienced legislative aids can play a critical role in policy analysis.

Average salary in the U.S.: $49,521

#5: Claims adjuster

As employees of insurance companies, claims adjusters will principally benefit from the broad understanding of contracts and torts that they receive as part of their legal studies degree.

Claims adjusters evaluate claims made to insurance companies, inspect property damage (or other documentation of a claim), and make decisions about how much the insurance company will pay on each claim.

Entry-level jobs involve simple claim decisions, such as deciding on payouts based on diagnostic codes. More senior positions involve inspection, analysis, and decision-making on major claims, such as building fires or damages resulting from natural disasters.

Average salary in the U.S.: $58,814

#6: Cybersecurity analyst

A legal studies degree will help a fledgling cybersecurity analyst understand critical concepts like privacy laws and white collar crimes.

Jobs in this industry range from working in the IT department of major companies to working in an investigative capacity on things like counterfeiting, money laundering, and human trafficking via the dark web.

Average salary in the U.S.: $89,579

#7: Corporate compliance officer

A legal studies degree will help a corporate compliance officer with reading and understanding how laws are practically applied to industries.

Corporate compliance officers are responsible for keeping up to date on all laws impacting the company they work for and helping steer the company’s policies so that they comply with applicable laws.

Average salary in the U.S.: $89,900

#8: Criminalist

Most criminalists will need some sort of science or information technology degree in combination with their legal studies coursework.

Criminalists perform key investigative functions for law enforcement. These include things like blood spatter analysis and computer forensics. Senior criminalists are often called upon to testify in trials.

Their legal studies degree will be most useful for concepts such as evidence gathering and preservation.

Average salary in the U.S.: $68,403

#9: Law librarian

As the title suggests, law librarians are responsible for maintaining law libraries.

Their legal studies education will prepare them for one of the key functions of the job – assisting attorneys with complex legal research questions.

Senior law librarians are more likely to take positions of management and oversight, whereas junior librarians perform much of the research.

Average salary in the U.S.: $65,209

#10: Bounty hunter

Bounty hunters are private citizens who help law enforcement by capturing people who have skipped out on their bail.

Although bounty hunters are not bound by the same legal constraints as police officers, their work is still impacted by various laws and regulations. A legal studies degree can help navigate that complex regulatory landscape.

Bounty hunters work hand-in-hand with police and courts and therefore need the solid understanding of criminal law that a legal studies program can provide.

Average salary in the U.S.: $94,000

What else is a legal studies degree good for?

When it comes to career opportunities for people with legal studies degrees, these 10 jobs are just the tip of the iceberg.

Truthfully, a baseline knowledge of law is helpful in almost any industry, which makes legal studies one of the more practical undergraduate degrees out there. Your skills are highly transferable and give you an advantage for any kind of job that involves writing, research, and critical thinking.

If you want to pursue an advanced legal degree, go for it! It’s a good idea to check with the graduate programs in which you’re interested to find out what kind of experience and undergraduate degrees are most likely to help you get accepted.

One Legal: Delightfully easy eFiling

One Legal Dashboard
Manage all your California and Nevada court filing from a single platform. Receive status updates and court-returned documents online while we handle all the logistics of getting your documents filed. Find out more about eFiling with One Legal now.
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    More to explore

    What is One Legal?

    We’re California’s leading litigation services platform, offering eFiling, process serving, and courtesy copy delivery in all 58 California counties. Our simple, dependable platform is trusted by over 20,000 law firms to file and serve over a million cases each year.

    One Legal Dashboard