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Outreach Coordinator Pacific Legal Scholars Program
Dr. Cindy Ostberg
Professor of Political Science Director of the Pacific Legal Scholars Program & Pre-Law Advisor
University of the Pacific
Stockton, CA 95211

Why Law? The Value of a Law Degree

A law degree expands professional opportunities

 Lawyers continue to play an essential role in nearly every aspect of society, because every profession-and person-is affected by the law. Here are a few examples of specialized areas of law:

criminal prosecution & defense
intellectual property
environmental law
family law

entertainment law
sports law
international law

civil litigation
labor & employment law
business law

While the economic recession has impacted all professions, professionals with a law degree have been less affected than those in other sectors of the economy. Law school can give its graduates a competitive edge because of their highly developed skills, which are transferrable to alternate careers. Here are some examples of careers that require legal knowledge:

labor negotiator
administrator of non-profit organization
investment banker
legislative/policy analyst
political strategist
financial analyst

management consultant
internet start up entrepreneur
legal researcher
court administrator
estate planner
financial advisor
real estate investor

hospital administrator
foundation grant officer
sports agent
legal correspondent
law enforcement

A law degree can provide you with the opportunity to make a real difference

The practice of law can be intellectually stimulating and provides many opportunities for effecting positive social change. Just read what these lawyers think of their own legal careers (taken from "Why I love being a lawyer," ABA Journal, February 2011):

"Why do I love being a lawyer? Because, once in a while, you get the opportunity to help someone who desperately needs your help. It feels good to be that person."
D.A. "Duke" Drouillard
Omaha, Neb.

"I love being a lawyer because it gives me the opportunity to use the law to make someone's life better. To paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Self-Reliance," it affords me a chance to accommodate my contrarian nature by confronting those who think they understand my duty better than I. I could not ask for more."
Joseph J. Levin Jr.
Montgomery, Ala.

"America is a society based on law and justice. I love the fact that I have a role in making this ideal a reality, however small."
Richard Granat
Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

"I knew I was extremely glad I was a lawyer on Dec. 10, 2009. That day the Inter-American Court of Human Rights sanctioned the nation of Mexico for the torture and killing of women in Ciudad Juárez in what has become known as the "cotton field case." It was the first time that the Mexican government was held accountable for not offering guarantees to protect the lives and physical well-being of these women. The court's decision was groundbreaking because its context was based on gender violence. I filed a brief pro bono on behalf of Amnesty International and more than 50 other human rights organizations. The court referred to my amicus brief in its decision. The decision turned out to be one of the most important international women's rights decisions in decades. The case also reinforced the importance of the rule of law and of standing up for what is right, just, fair and humane, even if you are not sure whether what you are doing will actually result in any change at all. I remember thinking that I could retire after this decision and still have had a completely satisfying legal career."
Mary-Christine Sungaila
Costa Mesa, Calif.

"Best job in the world: I get paid to read, write, think, talk and argue-all things I would do anyway."
Rick Ball
Chicago, Ill.

A law degree...from the perspective of a federal judge

Morrison England is a federal judge on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. When Legal Scholars asked Judge England about the importance of a law degree, he said:

Morrison EnglandBeing trained in the law is a fabulous way to allow yourself to enter into many professions. While most think of an attorney as being in court every day, so many attorneys use their training in other ways. The opportunities for success are endless when one has legal training. Almost everything we do in today's world is affected by a law, rule or regulation. Companies both private and public as well as the government rely on those with legal training to be a part of government relations, human resources and international relations. In today and tomorrow's increasingly technologically driven world, these areas will be even more important.

I was fortunate to receive my undergraduate training [in pre-law] at the main campus in Stockton. The training and skills I received there were vital to my success in law school. I could not have asked for better professors, mentors and/or curriculum. I was also fortunate to attend law school at the Pacific McGeorge campus in Sacramento. In my opinion, there is no more beautiful physical plant for a law school in the United States. I received instruction from the top professors in the country, including Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. To sum up, legal training from both Pacific and Pacific McGeorge is why I have arrived at this point in my legal career. I recommend the same path to anyone interested in a career in law.