Career Pathway: Law

The field of legal studies is ideal for professionals looking to gain a deeper understanding of the law within their field of interest. This is a degree designed for non-lawyers that provides a versatile skill set applicable to a range of professional settings including, but not limited to, human resources, finance, real estate, government, business, healthcare, technology, and law enforcement. Whether looking to advance within a current field, or transition to a new specialization, a degree in legal studies provides a foundation in core legal methods, as well as theories and practices to leverage your professional background and pursue the next steps in your career.

What can I do with legal skills?

Sample Job Titles 

  • Legal Assistant
  • Contract Specialist
  • Criminal Investigator
  • Tax Associate
  • Compliance Manager – Fraud Investigations
  • Contracts Specialist
  • Proposal and Contracts Manager
  • International Tax Manager
  • Management Analyst
  • Public Affairs Specialist

Legal research assistants support lawyers by conducting extensive research for on-going cases, organizing and filing documents for upcoming trials, and writing daily reports. Legal research assistants are useful in a multitude of professional settings, including legal offices, businesses, and healthcare organizations. 

E-Discovery Specialist

E-discovery professionals collect and analyze electronically stored information during litigation with an eye for compliance and sensitivity around client data. Additionally, E-Discovery specialists support in using said data to uncover facts in a lawsuit, identify potential witnesses, or help clients minimize legal risk. This role requires a deep understanding of the legal implications associated with accessing and sharing data. 

Contracts Specialist

A contract specialist reviews and analyzes contractual agreements between a company and suppliers of products or services. Their core duty is to ensure that contracts l are fair and legal.

Relevant Certifications: Certified Professional Contracts Manager (CPCM)

Compliance Officer

Compliance officers identify, uphold, and enforce compliance standards within a particular organization. They are needed in many settings, from business to healthcare, to ensure that an organization complies with its outside regulatory and legal requirements, as well as internal policies and bylaws.

Relevant Certifications:
Certified Regulatory Compliance Manager (CRCM) | Healthcare Research Compliance Certification (CHRC), None Required. 

Cybersecurity Specialist 

Cybersecurity specialists protect organizations against cybercrime and general web threats. They monitor, detect, investigate, analyze, and respond to security breaches, and require knowledge of the law related to accessing data and sharing information. 

Criminal Investigator

Criminal investigators support law enforcement in solving crime. They gather research, collect evidence, and search databases for information needed to solve criminal cases. 

Corporate Compliance Director

Compliance directors manage work streams to ensure corporations adhere to all laws, rules, and regulations relevant to their industries. They often work with human resources departments to implement compliance strategies, as well as interpret new regulations to senior management and implement cross-organization solutions to minimize risk. 

Senior Contracts Negotiator

Contract negotiators support lawyers with labor and business deals across a multitude of industries. They perform duties associated with preparing and negotiating contracts, such as labor agreements, vendor services, audits, adherence to local, state, and federal laws, etc. With increased reliance on freelance workers and contractors, being able to negotiate the terms of a contract is an increasingly important skill set. 

Human Resources Manager

Human resources managers and directors require a deep understanding of the various laws that affect employment, as well as the ability to apply legal reasoning to organizational decisions like handling personnel issues, terminating employees, and implementing benefits programs. HR managers ensure that organizations are compliant with current employment laws, regulations, and policies. 

How can I acquire legal skills and turn them into a career?

In-Demand Skills

Ultimately, your ability to land a specific role rests on your experience and educational background, as well as your proficiency in the skills below.

Specialized Skills (Field-Specific)

  • Legal Research
  • Analytical Thinking
  • Writing and Communication
  • Problem Solving
  • Negotiation
  • Critical Thinking
  • Attention to Detail
  • Legal Analysis
  • Advocacy
  • Courtroom Presentation

Transferable Skills & Qualities

  • Business: People Management, Business Management, Performance Management, Project Management, Business Strategy, Contract Management, Business Process and Analysis
  • Finance: Tax Finance, Budget Management, General Accounting, Billing and Invoicing, Investment Management
  • Informational Technology: Microsoft Office, Productivity Tools
  • Customer and Client Support
  • Administrative Support
  • Supply Chain and Logistics
  • Procurement
  • Economics, Policy, and Social Studies: Policy Analysis, Economics
  • Legal: Litigation, Regulations and Law, Compliance
  • Education and Training
  • Program Management
  • Health Care: Public Health and Disease Prevention
  • Media and Writing

Certifications

Pro tip: There are no “required” certifications; any requirements for a role are listed on job postings.

This is a list of related certifications that some employers may seek:

NBTA:
Definition/Purpose Board Certification in Criminal Trial Law 
Associated Roles Legal Assistant

CAMS:
Definition/Purpose Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist  
Associated Roles Compliance Specialist

PMP:
Definition/Purpose
Project Management Professional  
Associated Roles Compliance Manager/Analyst

CBCS:
Definition/Purpose
Certified Billing and Coding Specialist  
Associated Roles Compliance Specialist

CHC:
Definition/Purpose
Certified Healthcare Compliance 
Associated Roles Healthcare Compliance Specialist

CCC:
Definition/Purpose
Corporate Compliance Certification
Associated Roles Corporate Compliance Specialist

CCEP:
Definition/Purpose
Certified Compliance & Ethics Professional
Associated Roles Compliance & Ethics Specialist

CHPC:
Definition/Purpose
Certified in Healthcare Privacy Compliance
Associated Roles Healthcare Privacy Compliance Specialist

What could my career look like with a law skill set?

Note: This is a basic guide to kick-start exploration, not a complete list of all paths. See specific job descriptions for more details.

Legal assistants are an important part of the U.S. legal system.They can work closely alongside attorneys, drafting and editing documents, conducting research, filing legal proceedings, and interviewing clients. Legal assistants can work for corporations, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. A master of legal studies degree helps advance the reasoning and writing skills necessary to help complete legal forms, conduct research, and properly reference legal citations. You also gain marketable research skills and knowledge of legal terms, contracts, and other documents (e.g., lease agreements, arbitration agreements, and contract amendments). 

A master of legal studies degree can help healthcare professionals, such as registered nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, or medical doctors, comply with the law and excel in their careers. The degree also provides marketable skills in contract law and civil procedure, which can help in  a career as a healthcare administrator, as well as in opening up a private practice, and safeguarding from medical malpractice suits. 

Banking and financial professionals help individuals and organizations manage their accounts, investments, risk, and tax filings. A master of legal studies degree provides banking and financial professionals with legal background that can help enhance their skills in drafting contracts, negotiating terms of an agreement, as well as their knowledge of property rights and tax law. 

Human resource professionals are present in most organizations. Often their responsibilities include recruiting, hiring, and firing employees; reconciling compensation and benefits; and other employee relations issues. A master of legal studies degree provides the necessary legal background to ensure compliance with employment and labor laws. An MLS degree also enables you to draft contracts with employees or other businesses, write and document employee complaints, and negotiate employees’ salaries. 

Local, state, and federal governments are one of the largest customer groups in the country and their associated contracts can become complicated and tedious without a skilled contract negotiator. Since government contracts provide substantial financial opportunities for small businesses, it’s important that they are designed to protect both parties. A master of legal studies helps develop the skills needed to become a contract negotiator for either the government or for  businesses pursuing a government contract.

Technology and cybersecurity legal professionals stay updated on privacy laws, information technology, and data growth as it pertains to the World Wide Web. They help ensure that organizations adhere to rapidly changing compliance laws and use their legal backgrounds to analyze personal data, information privacy, and security. Developing negotiation and risk-management skills, in addition to their technology and cybersecurity knowledge, opens up a niche but needed field for these professionals. 

Legal advocates argue for an individual or a cause and can work in many different specialties. You can specialize as a victim, court, child, or mental-health advocate, among others. Advocates  work in many spaces in the judicial system. Employers generally prefer that advocates have master’s degrees.

Real estate agents guide future or current homeowners through the process of purchasing and/or selling their homes. Successful real estate agents have knowledge of the housing markets in their communities so they can advise their clients on appropriate pricing. They also need to have great customer service skills, and some background knowledge of finance and law. A master of legal studies degree enhances a real estate agent’s legal background by providing a better understanding of contract law, negotiation skills, and property rights. 

A master of legal studies degree can help propel an education career. Whether you’re a teacher, principal, or other school or district administrator, an MLS degree helps provide marketable writing skills and knowledge of U.S. law and legal proceedings, that can lead to leadership roles in a teacher’s union, positions with a district office, or a role in education policy. 

What are my next steps?

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