Two graduates on their experience in Drexel's online Master of Legal Studies
You want to work in law, but you don’t necessarily want to be a lawyer. So, what do you do? Drexel University’s Master of Legal Studies, housed in the Thomas R. Kline School of Law, gives you foundational law knowledge, without having to earn a JD. The degree focuses on the ins-and-outs of legal compliance, and offers eight concentrations in areas like criminal law and health care compliance.
We talked to two graduates from the MLS program to learn more about how the degree has helped them. Alexis Arthurs, a 2020 graduate, and Kyle R. Calhoun, a 2016 graduate, explain why they chose to pursue an MLS degree, and how it has helped them build their careers.
Tell us a little about yourself.
AA: I received my undergraduate degree at Neumann University, with my bachelor’s in criminal justice. I currently work for Northeast Treatment Centers as a lead targeted case manager for participants with severe mental illness and drug and alcohol issues, along with participants that suffer from intellectual disabilities.
KC: I’m originally from Seattle, Washington. I earned my undergraduate degree from Evergreen State, while on a full athletic scholarship for basketball. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in law and government policy. I decided that I didn’t want to become an attorney, but I still wanted a career in law. So that’s really why the Master of Legal Studies degree really fit my business and passion for law. I decided to apply, got accepted, was super excited, and that’s how it all started.
Why did you decide to pursue a Master’s of Legal Studies?
AA: I wanted to further my education because all my life, my parents have impressed upon me the importance of an education. My mom and dad always told me that staying focused and positive would allow me to succeed at any task I take on. They have been a driving force of encouragement and support throughout my entire life. They guided me through many decisions while in high school and when it was time for me to attend college their support never faltered. My intention at the time of graduation was to find a job in my field and work up to my fullest potential. I took on that challenge eagerly and with great enthusiasm: but, slowly started to understand that if I wanted to realize my true-life dreams, I would need more than just an undergraduate degree. I plan to use my MLS degree in case management, but to further it by becoming a director, or program manager.
KC: I interned at a law firm here in Seattle right after I graduated with my undergraduate degree. I realized the workload and running my own practice wasn’t for me, and it seemed like the business law side was more for me. I always had a passion for business and wanted to own my own business, so I just felt that a corporate environment would be a better fit. I also like having the flexibility; not necessarily sticking to one side of law, being able to move around and have that flexibility in a career was a plus.
I had heard whispers of law degree for non-attorneys, so with a little research I landed on Drexel’s Masters of Legal Studies degree.
What challenges (personal or otherwise) did you face while working towards your MLS?
AA: The challenges that I have faced while working towards my degree, first and foremost…this pandemic has made things difficult, with now being home with my toddler, working from home and working on my studies daily. I have been able to gain a great deal of patience and was able to push through to my success and graduate. I had a lot of help from my husband as well—we were able to work out a great balance for each other.
KC: I’d say the toughest thing for me was learning at such a high level for the first time. The curriculum is so well put together and fast paced, you really have to prioritize your workload. If you’re on campus, it’s easier to just have a conversation with classmates versus some of the online courses, you really have to get comfortable with reaching out to people, reaching out to professors and getting to know them via email or Skype. Taking that extra step to virtually introduce myself was very helpful. I had to adjust. I wouldn’t say it was a struggle, but it’s a different learning style, very independent.
What made Drexel’s MLS program stand out to you?
AA: Drexel was the only program that offered an MLS that would allow me to advance in multiple areas in my career.
KC: The Master of Legal Studies degree was very new at the time, and Drexel was one out of a very small list of schools offering an MLS program. Now, there’s a lot of other schools offering “similar” programs, but at that time there was just Drexel, and maybe one or two other schools, but they were not close to home. The fact that Drexel’s online program offered specific concentrations was a plus as well.
How have you applied what you learned in class to your career?
AA: I was able to incorporate a balance with my studies, but also with my job as well. I was able to become more organized with handling multiple things at one time. Being a case manager, we wear many hats while working in the field.
KC: I would say my Compliance 101 course [could be applied directly to my career]. I built our code of conduct and I also built a compliance program from the ground up, which was exactly what my concentration was in. My capstone course was on compliance program and ethics project, so that course I’d say was instrumental to that position and that job, just from a compliance and ethics background.
To learn more about Drexel’s Master of Legal Studies program, click here.