The Newest Law School Students Don’t Want to Be Lawyers
Many business professionals are entering law school, not to become practicing lawyers but to understand the myriad of legal issues they encounter on a daily basis. The master’s degree programs are generally 24 credits and are geared exclusively towards non-lawyers.
The programs are gaining in popularity as law school admission has tapered off by as much as 15 percent in recent years. Over 30 law schools now offer master’s programs for nonlawyers, including Emory University, Arizona State University, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, University of Oklahoma College of Law and Lewis & Clark Law School.
The cost and curriculum of the degree differs by school. Some offer a mini-law school education while others focus on particular aspects of the law, such as environmental law or intellectual property. They also go by a variety of different monikers, including Juris Master (J.M.); Master of Jurisprudence (M.J.); and Master of Science in Legal Studies (M.S.).
As highlighted in a recent New Jersey Law Journal article, the new trend demonstrates that law schools are starting to recognize that one size does not fit all when it comes to legal knowledge. Just like everyone in the medical field doesn’t want to become a doctor, not everyone who wants legal training plans to become a practicing attorney. A master’s degree makes sense for a variety of professionals, including compliance officers, human resources professionals and even high school principals.
Even after graduating with a master’s degree in law, businesses professionals will still need the advice of an experienced attorney to perform many tasks, including filing or defending a lawsuit. However, when business executives understand the issues at stake in employment matters and contract disputes they become active participants in the process and much more valuable as a result.