A degree in legal research can prepare individuals for careers as compliance officers, paralegals, human resource managers and law librarians. All of these professions require some knowledge of law. Educational requirements for these jobs vary, ranging from an associate's degree to a master's degree.
A legal studies degree program provides instruction in law-related topics. These programs are not intended as professional education for aspiring lawyers, but instead provide non-lawyers with a solid understanding of legal concepts and research. Some programs offer general training in subjects like legal systems, technology, homeland security or business law, while others provide career-specific instruction, such as paralegal studies, human resources management or library science. Legal studies degrees are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and could blend business and legal education.
|Career||Compliance Officer||Paralegal||Human Resource Manager||Law Librarian|
|Education Requirements||Bachelor's degree||Associate's degree||Bachelor's degree||Master's degree|
|Job Growth (2014-2024)*||3%||8%||9%||2% for all librarians|
|Median Salary (as of 2015)*||$65,640 annually||$48,810 annually||$104,440 annually||$72,940 annually|
*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Compliance Administrator or Officer
Individuals who work in the area of compliance regularly engage in legal research to ensure that businesses or organizations conform to all pertinent regulations and laws. They might secure or maintain necessary licensure or permits to operate a business or employ certain types of laborers. They could also enforce local, state or federal standards to ensure occupational safety conditions are met. In the financial sector, a compliance officer might oversee accounting, filing or budgetary procedures.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), compliance officers gain most of their career know-how through on-the-job training, though a bachelor's degree is required for most entry-level positions. A concentration in legal studies is particularly helpful, as it would provide the individual with a necessary background in legal research and laws. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that compliance officers earned a median annual salary of $65,640 as of 2015. BLS further states that job opportunities for compliance officers are expected to grow 3% from 2014 to 2024.
Community colleges, vocational schools and universities offer degrees in paralegal studies. Students can earn an associate degree to qualify for the position of a paralegal, though bachelor's and master's degree programs offer advanced legal training. Paralegal programs emphasize legal research, writing and procedures. Students in these programs often participate in internships and work practicums that expose them to the legal profession.
Paralegals assist attorneys in the practice of law by conducting legal research and assisting in the preparation and filing of legal documents. According to the BLS, the paralegal and legal assistant fields were expected to experience a 8% increase in jobs from 2014-2024, although there could be significant competition for these positions. The median annual salary for a paralegal was $48,810 in 2015.
Professional studies programs are typically designed to build on existing education and generally advance a student's academic level or career. At the bachelor's degree level, applicants might be required to already hold an associate degree or equivalent number of credit hours from an accredited technical, junior or community college. Students can complete an entire curriculum with general electives, or they could study one of several broad concentration options, such as human resource management.
Human resource managers organize all administrative aspects of a company or organization. This includes screening and hiring employees, overseeing payroll, benefits and employee training and, coordinating the company's day-to-day administrative procedures. Individuals interested in becoming a human resource manager must have some years of relevant experience in addition to a bachelor's degree. As of 2015, the median salary for human resource managers was $104,440, as reported by BLS. The bureau further identifies a 9% projected job growth rate for these positions from 2014 to 2024.
A law degree prepares an individual to become a licensed attorney as well as perform high-level legal research in a law firm, business or advocacy group. Some law school programs partner with colleges of library sciences to offer a dual degree option that allows students to earn both a law degree and a master's degree in library science. Positions in academic law libraries could require that an applicant holds both a master's degree in library science and a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree.
Many law firms, legal aid clinics and other organizations that rely heavily on legal research operate law libraries. In addition, schools that offer degree or certificate programs in law or legal studies employ law librarians to manage their collections of legal resources. According to the BLS, the average annual salary of a librarian who worked in legal services was $72,940 in 2015. The projected job growth for all librarians will be just below average at 2% from 2014 to 2024.
There are many career options for those who complete a degree in legal research. Paralegals regularly research information relevant to cases their firm or employer are working on, and law librarians may be utilized by large law firms or organizations to maintain a law library. Legal research can also be an asset for human resource managers, who oversee the administrative practices of their company and must ensure they comply with the law.