Should you pursue a Masters of Law degree or a J.D.?


The traditional J.D. takes three years of full-time schooling and a whole lot of money. It’s quite the commitment for someone who has no interest in practicing law. The MSL program is best suited for people who have established jobs, but where legal matters arise often. It’s another tool in the toolbox. 

 “The only reason to get a full law degree is if you are pretty confident you want to be a practicing lawyer,” said Clark Kelso, associate dean of strategic initiatives and MSL program director at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. “Law school is a big commitment and a long commitment.”

Some MSL programs only take a year of full-time studying to complete. A J.D. takes an extra two years and upwards of an extra $80,000 in tuition at most schools. An MSL program typically takes only one year to complete, making it more affordable.

“The people who benefit most from an MSL degree are not so much entry level, but someone who has already been out of college for a bit and is three to five to seven years into a career path in a particular type of position where having greater understanding of legal reasoning [is beneficial],” Kelso said. “It will put them on a quicker path to promotion.”