Master of Science in Legal Administration
The Sturm College of Law will prepare you for a successful career in legal management. Since 1972, the MSLA program has provided students with the knowledge and skills to run a law firm, court or legal organization, both nationally and internationally. The MSLA degree is a blend of business and law that offers flexibility for students.
To accommodate the needs of our students, all courses are offered online. Students may attend full-time, and graduate in one year; or part-time, and graduate in two to four years. Our students come from diverse backgrounds and have varying interests; some are working professionals, while others are students interested in entering the field of legal administration.
Law Firm Administration
The Law Firm Administration concentration educates students to operate a law firm or legal organization. By blending political science, business and management as it applies to the legal field and legal culture, students will explore all aspects of managing a law firm.
Graduates of the Law Firm Administration concentration advance their careers through positions like human resources management directors, practice area marketing specialists, marketing directors, training specialists, networking managers, etc. The flexibility of the concentration also enables students to take specialized courses depending on their areas of interest, qualifying them for more specialized positions.
The Court Administration concentration strives to improve the quality of justice through educating and training the professionals that manage, develop and operate courts and legal organizations. The concentration prepares students by blending studies of business management and exposure to the legal culture.
Graduates of the Court Administration concentration go into supervisory positions in civil or criminal case management, finance, information technology, jury management and customer service management, earning titles such as Chief Deputy, Court Administrator or Clerk of Court. The flexibility of the Court Administration curriculum enables students to take specialized courses depending on their areas of interest, qualifying them for more specialized positions.
The mission of the MSLA program is to improve the quality of justice worldwide through educating and training the professionals who manage, operate and lead courts, law firms and legal organizations.
Options & Requirements
Time to Completion
The MSLA program requires 30 semester hours of credit. The program is fully online with no residency requirement. The degree may be earned full time in two online semesters, plus a summer term, in which the student completes a managed externship/creative project, or part-time and finishing in two to four years followed by a managed externship/creative project.
The managed externship/creative project allows MSLA students to apply knowledge acquired during coursework and can lead to career opportunities. Students who are working in the legal industry can fulfill the externship requirement in their job with a special creative project.
The Capstone Project/Externship is an MSLA program requirement that is typically pursued when a student has completed at least 50% of the required coursework or in the last term of study. The Capstone allows students to apply knowledge acquired during coursework through experiential opportunity in a law firm, legal organization or court. The host organization is asked to provide relevant, real-world experience for the student. Host supervisors plan the agenda, monitor performance and evaluate the student.
Students may use their current place of employment to fulfill the externship requirements. If a separate placement is sought, students are required to obtain pre-approval of host site from the Program Director. Students must complete at least 150 hours of field work when in a placement that is not their current job. Students must also complete a related research project culminating in a research paper of 20-25 pages.
Students will also be registered for a concurrent Capstone course in Canvas. Under the supervision of MSLA faculty, the online component will focus on professional development and provide necessary skills and tools for students to market themselves and communicate learning experiences to potential employers.
Steps for Capstone approval:
1. Complete Research Project Proposal Form
2. Complete Externship Proposal Form
3. The Graduate Legal Studies office will register you for Capstone credits once all forms are received and approved
Advanced Standing MSLA
The Advanced Standing MSLA is available to current and graduated JD students. Advanced Standing students complete 27 credit hours rather than the 30 semester hours required in the traditional MSLA program. All classes are completed online. Students also choose from two concentrations: Law Firm Administration and Court Administration.
Advanced Standing students are exempt from taking the following classes:
- Research and Writing for the Legal Administrator
- Introduction to the US Judicial System
Course plans for the Advanced Standing MSLA:
JD & MSLA Dual Degree
The MSLA program blends well with the JD degree. The dual-degree program can be completed in 3.5 years. Students receive a cross-credit allowance of 10 credits toward the JD degree.
Students may complete the dual-degree program in two ways:
- Master students first complete the MSLA coursework and then, once admitted, begin the JD.
- Law students complete the first year of JD classes, then MSLA classes may be interspersed with second- and third-year JD coursework.
Legal Administration Certificate
The Certificate Program is designed to provide an academic credential for persons who are not candidates for the Master of Science in Legal Administration (MSLA) degree. The program allows for flexibility; enrolled students may design the certificate curriculum to suit their individual needs. Practicing administrators are encouraged to apply for candidacy. A bachelor’s degree is required for the certificate.
Certificate available in the following concentrations:
- Law firm administration
- Court administration
The Certificate in Legal Administration requires completion of 18 semester hours and may be completed in class, online or a combination of both.
Solo Small Practice Management Certificate
The Solo and Small Practice Management Certificate provides attorneys with business skills and knowledge to bridge the gap between lawyering and operating a solo or small legal practice. The 16 semester-credit certificate can be completed in one year and will cover all aspects of operating a law practice, including, but not limited to client service and relationship management, trust accounts, accounting processes, marketing, law practice administration, business development, social media, and billing and fees.
Please contact the Graduate Legal Studies Department at (303) 871-6249 or [email protected] to discuss a curriculum plan.