The Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law, which for more than 40 years has provided local residents the opportunity to earn the juris doctor degree and pursue a legal career, is expanding its curriculum to offer a Master of Legal Studies degree.
The MLS program is designed to provide those who work in law-related fields the expertise needed to navigate the legal challenges that now arise routinely in the workplace. By studying the legal system and its practical implications, students will prepare themselves to handle management duties in heavily-regulated areas, such as business, law enforcement, education, health care and human resources.
“Many nonlawyers want to know more about how the legal system works, so they can be more effective in their professional pursuits,” said professor Craig Smith, who directs the program. “They don’t intend to practice law, so they don’t need a juris doctorate. Our MLS program offers just the right balance between legal theory and practical application for those whose job responsibilities include dealing with any aspect of law.”
Offered entirely online, the part-time MLS program is tailor made for the busy adult who needs convenience, flexibility and affordability. Students can earn the MLS degree in less than two years, taking one course in each seven-week term.
In core classes, students will gain an understanding of fundamental legal principles of American law, and develop practical skills that will help them anticipate, avoid and manage real-world legal problems. In elective and capstone courses, students will be able to study legal topics related to their own professional interests.
Courses in the colleges’ new MLS degree program are taught by practicing attorneys from the Santa Barbara and Ventura areas. Applicants for the MLS degree must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college and a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.3. Applicants who do not meet the minimum cumulative GPA requirement will be considered if they demonstrate the ability to do graduate level work as shown by a substantial work history.
The law school’s inaugural MLS class will begin classes in January; students may enter the program in January, May or August. Details and an application form are available on the colleges’ website by clicking here.
Smith, who teaches contracts and civil procedure in the colleges’ J.D. program, is also known for his law school website, www.lawschoolhelp.com, and local blog.
Observing that every article written by a lawyer must have a legal disclaimer, he issued this one: “Prospective students should be aware that the MLS program does not qualify graduates to sit for the California Bar Examination or satisfy the requirements for admission to practice law in California. Those who wish to become eligible to practice law should consider our Juris Doctor (JD) degree program.”
— Craig Smith is a professor of law and director of the Master of Legal Studies Program for the Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law.