Hamline News

Hamline Master in the Study of Law, Paralegal Certificate Now Fully Online

Image of a woman on a laptop with the Hamline logo as a backdrop.

The law isn’t just for lawyers anymore—and now, students can complete a graduate paralegal certificate or Master in the Study of Law (MSL) entirely online, making the program more flexible than ever.

With more and more jobs requiring interactions with lawyers and legal processes, there’s a growing need for people outside of the legal profession who understand the workings of the law. Hamline’s new online MSL and paralegal program formats make it easier than ever to gain the legal expertise employers need.

Virtual class sessions one night a week allow students to earn their degree from wherever they are, completing the rest of the coursework on their schedule. Full-time students can complete the paralegal certificate portion of the program in less than one year, and their master’s degree in 18 months. The paralegal certificate is also open to undergraduate students.

The MSL program is designed for those who want a professional-level knowledge of the law, but don’t want to become a lawyer.

“Understanding what our lawyers are doing, being able to ask the right questions, being able to prevent risk because you understand what the law says—those are hugely beneficial qualities for employers to have in their employees,” said Leondra Hanson, associate professor and Legal Studies department chair at Hamline.

Making it Your Own

MSL students can choose from four areas of concentration tailored to their specific goals: conflict resolution, litigation support, professional practice management, and social justice. Every student who completes the MSL coursework also earns an American Bar Association-approved paralegal certificate.

“We have a whole host of what I would label ‘alternative careers’ that our paralegal certificate students get,” said Hanson. “We’ve placed paralegal students in real estate roles, roles at large corporations, insurance roles, client roles, court administrative functions, and more.”

All MSL students also complete a capstone project related to their concentration. This is an opportunity for each student to tailor the degree to their specific interest. For example, an environmental consultant might choose the conflict resolution concentration and create a packet to explain environmental law to clients as their capstone project.

Ultimately, the MSL program is all about finding new and creative ways to approach a legal education.

“Our Masters in the Study of Law students tend to be folks already working in an industry, coming to get a deeper knowledge of some area of their work,” said Hanson. “Someone already working, for example, in a human resources department and wanting a little bit more understanding about legal things.”

For aspiring Masters in the Study of Law, Hamline might be more than the right place—it’s pretty close to the only place. While other colleges offer legal coursework for non-law students, the scope and specificity of the MSL program is unique to Hamline.

“Law is not just for lawyers,” said Hanson. “We want to empower everyone so that they can interact with the law in a way that impacts them.”

Written by staff
5/11/20