Legal knowledge has many uses beyond the courtroom. Professionals across numerous sectors must grapple with the minutiae of local, state and federal statutes governing countless backend business functions, from human capital management to enterprise accounting. This is good news for working professionals considering enrolling in graduate degree programs covering the law, as they may have the opportunity to advance in their current roles with legal expertise gained in such academic settings.
Here are some of those professions in which legal knowledge is key:
Human resources specialist
People drive enterprise operations. Even with access to advanced automated technology, firms of all sizes must staff personnel who have the expertise to propel and oversee mission-critical workflows. Human resources specialists find, recruit and manage employees and the various backend processes and systems that help workers do their jobs. From developing staffing plans and doling out disciplinary actions to creating compensation packages and ensuring payroll operability, HR specialists are responsible for numerous tasks.
This work involves navigating state and federal employment law, which constantly evolves to address widespread changes in American workplaces. For example, to make sure workers are safe as they execute key duties, HR specialists must collaborate with operational stakeholders to put into place and recertify safeguards that comport with Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations that come with legally enforceable penalties.
Legal expertise comes in quite handy in this field and can lay the groundwork for career advancement and the benefits that accompany it.
Business finance and law go hand-in-hand. Organizations operating in the U.S. are subject to statutes that dictate how commercial entities manage money. Antitrust laws prevent firms from growing too large through merger and acquisition regulations, while tax laws are meant to ensure companies pay their fair share. Accountants therefore must deal with these and other state and federal laws when overseeing organizational spending processes.
What does this work look like? It might be as simple as ensuring all corporate tax form data is accurate and comports with existing statutes or as complex as navigating the fiscal transition from a private entity to publicly traded organization through an initial public offering. Maintaining legality in these situations is essential, and accountants with strong legal knowledge can meet this expectation and make sure their respective businesses remain compliant.
Higher education administrator
An estimated 20 million Americans and U.S. residents attend higher education institutions annually, analysts from the National Center for Education Statistics discovered. Shepherding these individuals through the process requires immense coordination and effort on the part of educators, facilities specialists and other higher education professionals who make attending a college or university possible for millions. However, a select group of people in the space have an outsized impact on the system: the administrators.
These individuals help coordinate every part of the higher education experience, from student life and instruction to bursary operations and educator support. Administrators make American universities run, establishing the foundation for student success today and tomorrow. Of course, operating a higher education institution carries significant legal requirements, especially for public schools, which receive funding from state and federal government sources. To access these funds, colleges must adhere to various pieces of legislation governing their internal conduct, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
Higher education administrators equipped with the right legal knowledge can keep their respective institutions in the legal clear and shore up the money they need to continue to serve students.
Finding a legal studies program
The advancement opportunities for professionals who have the knowledge to work within the letter of the law but outside of a courtroom are plenty. But where can these ambitious individuals receive the graduate-level law education they need to find further success?
A number of programs are available, but few offer academic experiences as robust as Hofstra Law’s online Master of Arts in American Legal Studies. The 30-credit program is meant for working professionals looking to transition into new positions or move up within their current jobs. The 100% online program begins with foundation courses covering the American legal system and legal research and writing — two subject areas that are essential to success in the field. The track then continues with six additional core courses that address various legal studies specialties, including contract law, constitutional law, enterprise law, property law and tort law. The curriculum also includes a course covering lawyerly ethics.
The online American Legal Studies program at Hofstra Law includes two elective courses on criminal law and U.S. civil procedure. It then closes out with a capstone course during which students write a thesis paper on an important legal studies topic.
Students typically complete the online program within two years and graduate with knowledge they can use to find success.
Are you pursuing one of the career paths outlined above and interested in increasing your legal expertise? Connect with an enrollment advisor today.