Master’s Degree in Law Delivers Legal Know-How to Working Professionals
Loyola Law School launched its Master of Science in Legal Studies (MLS) program two years ago, becoming one of the first law schools to offer working professionals a customized legal education in a variety of subject areas to advance their careers.
“Law touches every job, every company, every industry, and in an increasingly complex and networked world, a broader mix of people are performing tasks that involve legal issues, or could simply do their jobs better with basic legal literacy,” says Associate Dean of Student Affairs Priya Sridharan.
Real-world examples abound: an entertainment copyright coordinator who organizes filings to protect creative content; a public agency engineer who helps maintain water treatment processes to meet regulatory standards; an IT specialist who manages cybersecurity.
“With an MLS, they can spot the legal issues well in advance and communicate effectively with lawyers,” Sridharan says. “Knowing the legal context of their day-to-day work, these folks can more actively problem solve, and also spot opportunities. As companies seek more efficient models to manage legal obligations and problems, legal education for non-lawyers will be essential.”
MLS students can design their own degree or enroll in one of six specializations: Business Law, Entertainment & New Media Law, Environmental & Natural Resources Law, Cybersecurity & Data Privacy, Criminal Justice and Intellectual Property. To refine and expand the program’s reach, Sridharan is working with private and public sector partners to help shape the curriculum and identify students who can benefit.
“Loyola is supremely well-suited to meet this need,” Sridharan says. “We explain the law better than anyone. You’ve heard Laurie Levenson, Justin Levitt, Jessica Levinson, Allan Ides and other faculty on the news, and after 2-3 minutes, no matter who you are, you understand the legal complexity and nuance of a high-profile event in a way you didn’t before.”
Sridharan also sees the program as central to Loyola’s social justice and education access mission. “Like our evening JD program, the MLS gives working people an opportunity for advancement. With 12-18 months of evening study, the MLS can advance you from worker to manager, from manager to leader.”
“Law school teaches you to think broadly and see multiple perspectives. You can’t read a case without considering both parties, their motivations and needs, the context. You learn to communicate — the debate and dialogue in the classroom with JD students, your future lawyers, challenges you to refine your thinking and words. And you learn the law — its structure, its history, how it changes and evolves, and what facts matter in the long run.”