Should You Pursue a Masters Degree?

January 8, 2014

A qualified ‘absolutely!’

I’m not talking about a Master of Paralegal Studies. My personal belief is that any Masters program that locks you into a set curriculum of individual courses in several areas of law, but fails to offer a concentration in a practice area that suits your needs (much less a single course in bankruptcy <grumble>), is nothing more than a glorified paralegal training program–and an over-priced one at that.

There have been several very lively discussions on this subject in various paralegal LinkedIn groups. Generally speaking, most employers may consider you over-qualified to be a mere paralegal; however, if you are seeking personal satisfaction, have a desire to teach, or, simply enjoy being in school, then … well, by all means get to it!

Is a Masters something a brand-new, fresh out of school, 20-something paralegal needs – no! ‘Baby’ paralegals need real world experience. However, for those of us who have been in the trenches for awhile, taking targeted courses in your area of specialization will make you more valuable and marketable. Any education is good for your career – remember CLEs  count too.

As for the Master’s degree – very few paralegal masters programs offer industry specific training. The programs I researched were very broad in scope and offered pre-set curricula that did not include classes in my area of law.

So back to my ‘qualified’ response –

As an independent/freelance/virtual paralegal, I felt that a Masters degree was something that would propel the new stage of my career forward. I did not, however, go for the generic Master of Paralegal Studies that lacked even one course in bankruptcy, but earned a Master of Science of Law with concentrations in Bankruptcy & Restructuring and E-commerce. (It is not a ‘paralegal’ degree, but a degree from law school and my classmates were attorneys.) For me, it was the right decision and the degree will pay for itself in short order.

Speaking of which <shameless plug for my Alma Mater to follow> –

Did you know that Thomas Jefferson School of Law is the oldest, fully online, ABA  recognized law school for LL.M. / J.S.M. Degrees in the world? Check it out here: www.llmprogram.org.

 

 

 

Mind you, it isn’t an inexpensive program – do your due diligence. Find a program that suits your needs and your career goals.

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