Today’s professional landscape includes many roles where having an understanding of the law as it pertains to a given industry can make you a more valuable employee. However, not everyone wants to pursue a law degree and become a practicing attorney. This can create a gap in expertise because not many people other than lawyers are trained to comprehend how the law functions in a specific field. According to Arizona State University faculty, industries continue to demand more dynamic skill sets from their employees, and a background in law is often valued by employers in virtually every sector of the economy. In this way, enhancing your understanding of the legal system can help drive your career forward. If you’re interested in law but not looking to earn a Juris Doctor and sit for the bar exam, how can you further your legal knowledge?
Pursuing a Master of Legal Studies online can provide you with a foundation in law without becoming a practicing attorney. This type of program aims to explore topics like the U.S. legal structure, the constitution, legal contracts and more, which can prove useful in both your professional and personal life. Because the law affects so many different fields, you may want to focus in a specific area that will be most applicable to your career goals. Emphasis options include sports law, sustainability law, contract management, Indian gaming and more — all of which can allow you to gain a deeper understanding of how the legal system interacts with a particular industry.
Online master’s in legal studies: curriculum at a glance
A Master of Legal Studies program works to improve your ability to think analytically as you study legal concepts and their implications. These competencies can equip you to navigate legal issues in your line of work or identify when an actual attorney will be required.
Programs typically begin with foundational courses that may cover topics such as law and legal analysis, contract fundamentals, civil procedure and constitutional law. Electives targeting your specific interests or professional needs can provide you with a more in-depth understanding of the legal circumstances associated with that industry.
Which field of law should I study?
The area of law you decide to study can depend on your interests as well as your current line of work or the industry you aspire to enter. If you’re uncertain as to where you’d like to focus, don’t hesitate to try courses in more than one area before deciding what to pursue. A flexible master’s degree in legal studies may allow you to customize your coursework to explore various interests without having all of your electives align with a single emphasis.
Here are just a few areas you can consider trying out or focusing on for your graduate program and subsequent career path:
The ultimate goal for students interested in enhancing their expertise in sports law is often to work in the industry. A Master of Legal Studies in sports law can prepare you for roles such as athletic director, sports agent, general manager or NCAA compliance director, and the competencies you can build with this degree can even help you find work in related industries, such as entertainment.
Sometimes instructors can also offer professional connections that may prove vital for obtaining these types of roles. According to ASU faculty, networking opportunities are invaluable because students pursuing a master’s degree in sports law can connect with individuals who have succeeded at the highest levels of this competitive industry. Such exposure can guide you toward the kinds of sports careers best suited for your abilities and interests.
Focusing on solving problems that arise in the field, a sports law master’s degree typically teaches you how to use knowledge of the law and business to tackle issues like legalizing sports gambling, maintaining labor relations and handling antitrust scrutiny. By delving into the regulatory, revenue and branding forces at work in sports, you can become better equipped at addressing situations through your educated insight into how the legal system affects these matters.
Individuals drawn to this emphasis are often seeking to address environmental challenges that may have widespread effects on humanity. A Master of Legal Studies in sustainability law can help prepare you for positions such as a sustainability manager, waste solutions strategist, green building advisor and more.
A master’s in sustainability law can familiarize you with the regulations that govern environmental protection and natural resources. Students typically learn how to apply relevant legal constructs toward accelerating and supporting sustainable goals. Knowledge gained through this emphasis can help you in areas such as public policy, industrial regulations, real estate development, and city and business management.
Intellectual property law
Knowing the laws that protect a person’s or an organization's intellectual property can prove vital in business and even assist in creating a competitive advantage. A Master of Legal Studies in intellectual property law can add value to your career in marketing and branding, licensing, entrepreneurship or research and development. This expertise can help you support innovation by spotting situations where creative ideas and products are vulnerable to loss.
ASU faculty say that professionals must be able to navigate a complex web of legal measures in order to successfully protect intellectual property. The knowledge you can gain through a master’s in intellectual property law can help you ensure all the hard work put into developing your company’s services or products is kept safe.
Today’s politicians, lobbyists, policymakers and public interest groups are beginning to see the utility of an educational background that focuses on criminal law. A Master of Legal Studies in criminal law can give you expertise in how and why the criminal justice system operates. It can provide you with insight into the large assortment of agencies charged with enforcing the laws, protecting the rights of suspects or convicted individuals and establishing punishments.
With a master’s in criminal law, you can explore how regulations come to pass as well as how they can differ between states, enhancing your overall understanding of the legal system. With such a background in criminal law, you can pursue careers in law enforcement or social work. Potential jobs to consider include county or court clerk, FBI agent, probation officer and more.
Corporate law and health care compliance
Corporate compliance is a complex network of laws and regulations that impact how business is conducted, and it affects all areas of operation. This has led to many organizations creating compliance departments with professionals who ensure adherence to legal obligations related to areas like health care. As a compliance officer, you may also be asked to produce reports on the organization’s adherence to the tax code, the federal law restricting the release of medical information and more.
A Master of Legal Studies in corporate and health care compliance can allow you to explore compliance from an overarching perspective, studying laws and regulations that impact each area of a business, or through a more defined view, focusing on compliance for a specific department, such as human resources or finance. Engaging with the concepts and theories unique to this area of business law can prepare you to enter into a compliance-related position in almost any organization.
Indian gaming is an evolving, highly regulated and specialized field in which tribes, gaming enterprises, federal entities, states and local governments have a demand for legal professionals to help them excel.
The Indian gaming industry is trending toward hiring executives who have multifaceted skills in federal Indian law plus other areas such as business and human resources. ASU Online’s Master of Legal Studies with a focus on Indian gaming is an ideal degree for those aspiring to work at the highest levels of Indian gaming but do not wish to be a lawyer. You’ll take a number of law courses that will prepare you for navigating all the intricacies of Indian casino law and gaming.
Strong tribal governments give structure to their communities by providing the services their citizens depend on, including police departments, social services such as education, health care, transportation and more. Professionals trained in tribal self-governance are needed to implement current federal programs and advance tribal self-governance through a variety of legal and policy mechanisms.
ASU’s Master of Legal Studies in tribal self-governance online is the only master’s level program in the country that provides an in-depth curriculum covering all aspects of tribal self-governance. This program is ideal if you want to support tribes and federal agencies as they plan, negotiate and implement self-governance agreements and advance self-governance to protect the health and welfare of tribal communities.
The conflict resolution emphasis is for those seeking advancement in the field where mediation and dispute resolution is a priority. The program equips students with practical problem-solving strategies and conflict resolution techniques.
The Master of Legal Studies in conflict resolution program produces leaders who know how to manage and resolve conflicts before they become major distractions or create negative consequences. Most of the courses you’ll take are relevant to all professional careers as everyone must deal with conflict and understand how it works, how to resolve it and the legal system through which it flows.
Construction and real estate development professionals must navigate a complex web of laws to achieve success. Everyone from CEOs to entrepreneurs to those putting plans into action at a site make decisions on a regular basis that have significant legal aspects and implications. Often, the person making the decision is unaware of the legal issues at play.
The Master of Legal Studies in construction law focuses on the legal aspects of constructions from the perspective of contractors, owners, architects, project managers and other non-legal professionals in the construction industry. You’ll gain an understanding of the applicable law, an ability to interpret these laws, and an ability to know when and how to best engage a legal team.
Contract management is the administration of legally binding mutual agreements that are enforceable by law. This area of legal studies helps ensure agreements between two or more parties are legal and clear. A mastery of contract law allows professionals to effectively create, revise and enforce agreements.
ASU Online’s Master of Legal Studies in contract management provides you with skills such as the ability to apply legal analysis to move ideas and projects forward, evaluate legal issues objectively, remove biases from influencing thought and much more.
A Master of Legal Studies from ASU Online
With the Master of Legal Studies online program from ASU, you have the opportunity to study law at a graduate level without the expectation of becoming a lawyer. After starting with an introduction to legal theory, you’re able to select an emphasis centered around the area of law that piques your interest or aligns with your career goals. Offering the legal acumen necessary to understand and approach law-specific issues inherent to fields like sports, health care, intellectual property, sustainability and more, this degree can propel you along a career path relevant to either the industry you’re currently working in or one you’re preparing to enter.