While a Master of Jurisprudence or M.J. will not allow you to take a bar examination and become a lawyer, the M.J. does have significant benefits, especially for those who work with lawyers, legal issues, deal with contracts and government compliance. This is an advanced degree for non-lawyers, although sometimes lawyers pursue the degree for career enhancement or to become a specialist.
There are a large number of graduate-level degree options for non-lawyers, according to the American Bar Association website. Currently, there are at least 150 different programs from dozens of schools across the U.S. and Puerto Rico offering non-lawyer master’s degrees. Top-ranked to non-ranked accredited law schools offer these master’s degrees in various modalities: live, online and hybrid. They can be done full-time or part-time. Some are specifically geared to the working professional with practical application as the focus, and others will engage in more theoretical work, culminating in a thesis. The specialties range from Cybersecurity and Health Care Compliance, to Intellectual Property and Tax.
Why not just get a J.D.?
Not everyone wants to spend three or four years seeking a J.D., especially if they do not see themselves actually practicing law. Sometimes people have an interest in learning the law for personal and professional reasons and choose the M.J. because they need an advanced degree and this program is practical.
The M.J. is a great alternative option for professionals who have jobs that touch the law (and what job doesn’t today?): paralegals, entrepreneurs drafting contracts, risk managers at hospice communities and health care compliance executives to name a few. All of these professionals find that they need to understand the law and the application of the law. The M.S. provides an alternative graduate-level education in a targeted area that will allow for immediate application at work.
Skills that meet market demand
Do you ever look at job postings for fun even if you aren’t searching for a new position? Professional and executive positions want people who can analyze large amounts of information, who are diplomatic, can research best practices and apply that research to specific matters, possess strong verbal and written communication skills, and have the ability to establish credibility necessary to effectively influence stakeholders. Lawyers need those skills, too.
To get these senior positions in some of the fastest growing jobs in health care or corporate America, you must have a master’s degree and in many cases a J.D. Take a look at the growing “JD preferred” job postings. A bachelor’s just does not cut it.
The M.J. degree is designed to develop these skills required by-demanded by-employers without having to spend the time and money on a J.D. (although a J.D. is incredibly valuable if you think you may someday want to practice!).
Swimming in a maze of regulation
Too often professionals find themselves involved in compliance monitoring, contract review, employment litigation, international business disputes, or discover illegal or unethical behavior. They have to investigate and resolve alleged violations of the law, such as an abuse of an elderly patient in a nursing home setting. The M.J. in fields such as Aging, Law and Policy, Healthcare Compliance or International and Comparative Business Law at Stetson university College of Law, provide business and agency professionals with targeted coursework specific to their field.
If you find that you need to build a basic understanding of the legal system and how it impacts your business or agency operations, then investigate the M.J. as a degree option. For many applicants their professional experience will allow for them to exempt out of the GRE requirement and the degree can often be completed in as little as one to two years going part-time.