It is crazy to think that someone would spend three or four years in law school and even think about getting another degree, or is it? Lawyers go back for the LL.M., the M.B.A. and other graduate degrees and certificates all of the time. Knowledge and skills quickly grow stagnant in today’s dynamic environment and few people stay in one job or field more than a couple of years at best, especially new professionals.
Oftentimes, the first job out of law school is not a new attorney’s dream job. For others, they got stuck in a practice area and stayed because of the security or money, but are wholly unfulfilled. As legal professionals change jobs or industries, their knowledge and skills need to change. In Stetson University College of Law’s Aging, Law and Policy Master of Jurisprudence (M.J.) program, a practicing attorney found herself as head of an agency that provides care for the elderly. She needed specific coursework in an online format that covered disabilities law, gerontological healthcare, guardianship, taxes and estate planning, and ethics in elder care, to ensure that she operated a compliant health care organization.
Competition is heating up – specialize and stack
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “employment of lawyers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.” Further, the BLS discusses the potential shift in where lawyers will be needed due to cost-cutting measures by corporations and states that the “demand for lawyers in a variety of settings, such as financial and insurance firms, consulting firms, and healthcare providers” will grow. Lawyers should be prepared to learn new skills and start stacking their credentials to stay competitive. Citation: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/lawyers.htm#tab-6
Why the M.J. and not the LL.M.?
The LL.M. is a great option and roughly the same number of credits as the M.J. It is often a go-to credential for foreign-educated attorneys looking to learn about U.S. law and policy, future academics, and it will certainly help an attorney specialize in a field. Just like the M.J., LL.M. options abound. The LL.M. is widely respected and a fine option for any attorney thinking about another credential or breaking into a new area of practice.
The M.J., however, is a viable option and may just come at a lower price point. Both lawyer and non-lawyer professionals teach the courses, unlike in law school. The classes will be taught for business and agency professionals and not for lawyers so the language and expectations will be different.
By nature, it will be specialty-focused and will allow for immediate application in practice. In some cases, attorneys may be able to waive out of courses, such as Fundamentals of Contract Law, and will likely be exempt from the GRE requirement.
Courses applicable to your day-to-day
In Stetson’s Healthcare Compliance M.J., students will take courses on Human Resource and Management Issues, Tax and Antitrust, and Kickbacks, Stark and False Claims. For an attorney practicing in health and hospital law with a large staff, this is a dream schedule.
For those attorneys who have found their way into the business world and are, perhaps, doing business with companies in other countries, courses in International Business Transactions or International Litigation and Arbitration as part of the M.J. in International and Comparative Business Law makes perfect sense.
Can you imagine an online or in-class dialog with colleagues from across the country wrestling with the same issues you face each day or reading about a classmates’ best practices in handling a fraud case at a nursing home? The M.J. is real-time training for real-time problems.
There are a variety of options to help you stay relevant in the highly competitive legal marketplace. Stay current and compliant with the Master of Jurisprudence or M.J. at Stetson University College of Law.