Legal Studies

The legal studies program offers options for students who are interested in law and who wish to pursue a career as a paralegal, or plan to pursue a law degree in law school, or plan to work in career fields where the knowledge of law and legal procedures will be valuable, such as government, health care, banking, social work and most areas of business.

The legal studies major and area degrees prepare students with the career competencies to work as a professional paralegal and are approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). Only about 30 percent of paralegal programs are approved by the ABA. The minor in legal studies is an excellent complement to other majors, but is not intended to fully prepare students as paralegals, and therefore, the minor is not approved by the ABA.

Students wishing to pursue law school can select from a variety of majors and minors, including legal studies. Those who choose a major other than legal studies are strongly encouraged to consider the legal studies minor. The legal studies instructors are attorney-professors and the pre-law advisors for all MSU students interested in pursuing law school. They provide information about the law school admissions process, including the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), and legal career opportunities.

Program Competencies

Students are expected to:

  1. Know the structure and relationship of local, state, and national governments; laws; and  the American court system and procedures.
  2. Know the roles of attorneys and paralegals in the delivery of legal services, and know and apply the ethical rules and laws that govern non-lawyers,  paralegals, and attorneys in the delivery of legal services.
  3. Know and apply fundamental principles of law  in specialized substantive areas of law.
  4. Conduct and update relevant legal research of primary and secondary resources using electronic databases, the internet, and print materials.
  5. Function effectively within the context of the modern law office using up-to-date technologies to create legal forms, documents, and summaries to assist attorneys in the practice of law.
  6. Communicate effectively with a variety of audiences.
  7. Analyze, recognize, investigate and coherently summarize legal issues and relevant facts.


  1. Senior capstone project
  2. Internship evaluations
  3. Employment and graduate surveys
  4. Legal memoranda, documents and pleadings

The paralegal profession continues to grow. Paralegals perform a variety of essential legal work under the supervision of licensed lawyers. Paralegals are highly valued members of the legal team. They may interview clients and witnesses, draft legal documents, research points of law, assist with document review in pre-trial and formal discovery, assist at trials and mediations, research real estate titles, manage a law office, and represent clients before administrative agencies as allowed by law.

The Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies is designed to equip graduates with the appropriate applied and theoretical knowledge of law and procedure to successfully assist lawyers in providing legal services to clients. The major and area of study combine the advantages of a liberal arts education with the development of the professional legal skills needed to assist attorneys in law offices, courts, government agencies, corporations, including banks, hospitals and other businesses.

The legal studies degree is approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).

Note: Paralegals are prohibited by law from engaging in the practice of law. Completion of this program or receipt of a B.A. degree in Legal Studies does not entitle one to practice law or render legal advice or services except as provided by law. See Kentucky Supreme Court Rule 3.700 and Kentucky Revised Statutes 524.130.