By Dr. Alison Becker
Department Chair, Legal Studies
Dynamic changes are happening in the legal community that are opening pathways to new legal careers that did not exist in the past. Many of these new careers are related to the increasing recognition that millions of Americans cannot access legal help when they need it.
While each state seeks to address such concerns pertinent to its respective needs, some commonalities are beginning to emerge. For example, digital access to court information and more staff members to guide people visiting courthouses has been expanding in many places; other states are exploring limited licensing opportunities for some non-lawyers to provide some legal services within certain contexts. New allied vocations in the legal profession are developing.
To prepare legal professionals for these industry changes, the University launched eight new legal studies concentrations as a part of its online bachelor’s degree in legal studies. These legal studies concentrations are:
- Criminal Law Support
- Legal Communications
- Legal Office Administration
- Legal Entrepreneurism
- Legal Data Analytics
- Legal Data Security
- Legal Ethics
Criminal Law Support Concentration
The Criminal Law Support concentration was designed to help students who know they want to work in legal offices that specialize in criminal law, regardless of whether those learners have a primarily prosecutorial or defense viewpoint. It’s very good to be able to understand criminal law from both perspectives because the ability to appreciate a broader range of positions strengthens the legal work done for a prosecuting or defense attorney.
This line of thought supports the addition of some courses from our online bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. For example, understanding why law enforcement handles evidence that it collects at crime scenes in a particular way shines valuable light on how evidence is addressed within courtrooms. Moreover, the interrelationship between law enforcement and the law becomes clearer.
The General concentration provides the same academic richness and depth that the University’s legal studies bachelor’s degree has always provided in its courses. This concentration is a good option for those students who want to work in the legal community and be positioned to seek a career in various legal fields.
Related link: The COVID-19 Pandemic’s Mixed Impact on US Law Schools
Legal Communications Concentration
The Legal Communications concentration offers students who are interested in informing the public about legal matters with an educational pathway. People who want to share their legal knowledge with the public need to have a fundamental understanding of the law itself.
However, they should also know and be able to apply the principles of public speaking, ethics, and the various purposes and means of public relations in multiple contexts. This concentration supports learners who are interested in this kind of work directly in legal offices, governmental organizations, or media outlets that present legal information to the public in one way or another.
Legal Office Administration Concentration
Students who are drawn to the intersection of law and business might appreciate the Legal Office Administration concentration. Students will not only learn about legal fundamentals but will also be introduced to the principles of business decision-making and the basics of employee supervision. That knowledge will prove useful for people interested in seeking a career in managing administration or operations in legal offices.
Legal Entrepreneurism Concentration
The Legal Entrepreneurism Concentration combines legal studies knowledge with the best of the University’s business courses. Students will learn how to create new business ideas and bring them to fruition within an entrepreneurial or small business setting. This concentration is ideal for many people, especially for budding entrepreneurs who want to provide innovation to the legal community or support other businesses in the same endeavor.
Legal Data Analytics Concentration
Students intrigued by the opportunity to analyze different kinds of data in ways that can improve legal solutions and strengthen business efficiency in the legal community may be interested in the Legal Data Analytics concentration. In addition to learning about basic legal matters, students will also gain knowledge of how to best analyze data from business perspectives.
Legal Data Security Concentration
Our Legal Data Security concentration is designed to fill a critical need in the legal industry: bridging the knowledge gap between those people who work with legal data and those who protect it. Closing this gap is very important because lawyers are their clients’ secret-keepers and have ethical responsibilities to protect their clients’ information.
Some clients are secured by the ethical concept of attorney-client privilege, and other clients must maintain trade secrets and other kinds of confidential information. These secrets often are targeted by other people, particularly in data theft situations.
To help meet this need within the legal community, students in this concentration will learn about basic legal matters. They will also take classes to learn about various information technology security concepts at the database and network levels, taught by the University’s School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) instructors.
Legal Ethics Concentration
While it is true that attorneys study ethics in law school, other types of ethical expertise are needed within the legal and business communities. Many people confuse religion with ethics; that kind of misunderstanding weakens the application of ethical principles in various circumstances, which contributes to societal breakdowns.
The Legal Ethics concentration offers students the opportunity to learn about law, logic, and ethics in a wide range of fields, ranging from criminal justice to the environment, IT, healthcare, and sports. People with legal ethics expertise are useful in helping employers to make ethical decisions; they can act as advisors and regulators in many professions, even if they have never practiced law.
Related link: Creating the Strongest Possible Law School Application
Consider Exploring Our New Legal Studies Concentrations
As the Department Chair of the legal studies program, I’m very proud of all of the hard work that our entire legal studies faculty team has done so far to ensure that the learning opportunities available to our students are up to date and relevant within a 21st-century context. Like our students, I continue to look forward to the continuing evolution of our legal studies degree programs.
I invite all readers to come and explore the new legal studies concentrations. These new legal studies concentrations might be able to help you to expand your vision of a legal career into some new areas.