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Christopher Serkin, director of Vanderbilt’s Master of Legal Studies, offers a few considerations for prospective students.

People may pursue a master’s degree at various points in their careers, depending on their individual goals and circumstances. The rationale behind the decision—whether it’s to gain specialized knowledge before launching a career, enhance their skills or pivot to a new industry or position, qualify for leadership positions, or just stay up to date with trends and advancements—often informs the timing.

A Master of Legal Studies (MLS) degree is designed to provide individuals from diverse academic backgrounds with a broad understanding of law and legal systems and to navigate complex legal issues within their respective industries. Christopher Serkin, director of the Vanderbilt MLS program, believes there are multiple points in a professional’s career when it could make sense to pursue a Master of Legal Studies.

The earlier the better, with a caveat

“I think the earlier you pursue an MLS degree, the more time you have to benefit from that educational experience over the course of your career,” Serkin says. “Think about the investment you’re making as something that needs to be amortized over your professional life.”

He does note, however, that the MLS is a significant financial investment, and as such, prospective students would ideally be in a financially and professionally stable situation before making the decision.

The MLS is still valuable later in your career

Serkin has also seen students with more professional experience benefitting from the MLS as well. “As you work your way up in seniority, you find yourself starting to interact with lawyers in new and different ways than you did when you were starting your career,” he says. The more experience you bring to an MLS, the more you will get out of it. For professionals working with lawyers to identify legal risk or address other legal matters, the MLS offers significant value.

A powerful and practical degree for lifelong learners

For lifelong learners seeking their next educational experience, the MLS offers foundational knowledge of a core element of our society. “The Master of Legal Studies makes you a more informed citizen,” says Serkin. “It makes you better able to understand and evaluate political arguments. It makes you better able to participate in democratic processes.”
There are practical benefits to a legal education as well. “You may find yourself as the executor of an estate, you may be buying a house—whatever your journey may be, you are going to be encountering the legal system,” Serkin adds. “The MLS makes you better able to navigate those situations.”

To learn more about the Vanderbilt Master of Legal Studies, click here.

About Vanderbilt Law School

Vanderbilt Law School has prepared students for exceptional careers throughout the United States and around the world for 145 years.

Located on the Vanderbilt University campus in Nashville, Tennessee, the law school combines the advantages of a stimulating university community, a top-tier research faculty, award-winning teachers, and a vibrant student body.

Known for its rigorous academics in a collegial, supportive atmosphere, Vanderbilt Law School attracts students and faculty seeking a first-rate education within a nurturing community.

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