Introductory Guide to Law Firm Work with an Online Master in Legal Studies

A Master of Legal Studies is an excellent graduate degree for professionals who want to work in legal studies without having to go to law school and then pass the bar exam.

With an Online Master of Legal Studies you can gain the qualifications for positions in a law firm such as:

  • Paralegal
  • Legal researcher
  • Legal assistant

While uncommon, some students have used Master of Legal Studies as a foundation to prepare them for success in law school. Some MLS recipients went on to enroll in law school, graduate, pass the bar and practice law as attorneys and judges1.


Paralegals are an integral part of law firms. Attorneys rely heavily on paralegals to conduct research and to help prepare cases for trials and hearings. They must conduct extensive research into case law and legal facts and precedents. That research is presented to attorneys to aid them in determining the direction their cases must take. Paralegals often present their findings to attorneys and prepare presentations of findings for partner meetings. Paralegals often serve as a point of contact for clients assisting them by answering questions and explaining case strategy and legal proceedings. They also draft pleadings, prepare court filing, write reports, and prepare legal arguments.

Legal Assistants & Legal Researchers

Legal assistants and legal researchers perform most of the same duties as paralegals, however, paralegals are certified professionals, having passed the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) credentialing exam. All the work of legal assistants, legal researchers and paralegals is done under the guidance and supervision of attorneys.

The Masters of Legal Studies programs equip graduates with communication, writing, research, negotiation, and conflict negotiation skills, all of which are essential to success working in a law firm. By concentrating in a specialized field in law, paralegals with a Master of Legal Studies degree can more easily advance in their careers and may eventually become managers of the paralegal department. Becoming a subject matter expert in a specialized field such as patent law, intellectual property, bankruptcy, personal injury, criminal law, or others, makes a paralegal more of an asset for firms that specialize in those respective areas.

Law School

MLS programs are not intended to prepare students for law school. Nevertheless, some students have chosen to earn a Master of Legal Studies as preparation for law school, and have eventually become lawyers or judges. The Master of Legal Studies degree imparts a deep understanding of legal theory and the role of law in both U.S. businesses and society in general. Graduates leave the program with a comprehensive understanding of how the legal system works and affects individuals, societal groups, and corporations. This body of knowledge can be foundation for law school2, 3.


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