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Why Major in Legal Studies?
The need for professionals with a strong understanding of the law is growing – in healthcare, business, entertainment, the nonprofit sector, law enforcement, government and more.
Whether you’re an aspiring attorney, juvenile court advocate, legislative assistant, compliance officer, FBI agent, insurance agent, judge, politician and more, Belmont’s legal studies program offers you two different pathways to complete the major and launch your future legal career.
BS/BA in Legal Studies: This pathway allows you to complete the legal studies major with a minor in four years. Many students choosing this option are preparing for work in law-related fields, graduate work outside of law school, or want a more traditional 4-year undergraduate experience before entering law school.
3+ 3 Program (BA/BS)/(JD): This pathway offers an accelerated path to Belmont’s College of Law, allowing you to complete your first year of law school at Belmont during your fourth undergraduate year. You save time and money, completing both your bachelor's in legal studies and Juris Doctor (J.D.) in six years instead of seven.
What You'll Learn
With both pathways in the legal studies major, you’ll benefit from small class sizes and mentoring by our interdisciplinary faculty, who bring the expertise and resources of multiple departments at Belmont. You’ll immerse yourself in courses that focus on:
- the judicial system, methods of resolving disputes, constitutional law, torts, criminal law, property and contracts
- argumentation, with emphasis on analysis, evidence, reasoning, constructing & refuting claims
- the entrepreneurial process - solo practitioners and innovation within the legal industry
- fundamental theories of the nature of law or broad themes of social and political philosophy
- examining ethical issues using real-world case studies
Elective courses allow you to focus on areas of potential specialty, including international law, music industry contract law, criminal justice, poverty and justice, communication law, entertainment law, copyright law, or eco-justice and faith.
A legal studies degree at Belmont sets you up for many career possibilities in law. Students wanting to become a lawyer will need further education to earn a Juris Doctor, a postgraduate degree that typically takes 3 years.
Lawyers work in a vast array of industries, including:
- Federal, state, and local governments as prosecutors or public defense attorneys
- Government counsels for administrative bodies and executive or legislative branches of government
- Corporate counsels
- Public-interest lawyers
- Entertainment lawyers
- Environmental lawyers
- Immigration lawyers
- Tax lawyers
- Intellectual property lawyers
- Family lawyers
- Securities lawyers
For some, this is an ideal major if you want to pursue a career in law-related fields for which a legal education is helpful but does not require law school. Examples include:
- Paralegal/Legal Assistant
- Human Rights Advocate
- Insurance Claims Adjuster
- Legislative Assistant/Congressional Staffer
- Human Resources/Compliance Officer
- Law Enforcement/Courts
- Political Advisor
- Real Estate
- Court Reporter
- Probation Officer
Erin Grimm, Class of 2021; J.D. 2023
"I was very happy with the 3+3 program and the way it set me up to be successful in law school. I felt confident starting law school knowing that I already had some exposure to the material we were going to learn the first year. Saving a full year of school and tuition was also a huge bonus."
The major in legal studies leads to a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) and requires 128 credit hours of coursework:
Students in both pathways complete the following:
- BELL core requirements: 53 hours
- Major Core requirements: 24 hours
- Major Elective Hours: 6 hours
Students in the 4-year pathway ONLY also complete the following:
- Minor: 18 hours
- General Electives: 27 hours
Students in the 3+3 Pathway ONLY must complete 99 hours before matriculating to Belmont's College of Law so also complete the following coursework:
- General Electives: 16 hours
Major Core Requirements
- MGT 2410: Business Law I (3 hours): A course in the fundamentals of law in relation to business. Areas studied include: law and its sources, the judicial system, methods of resolving disputes, constitutional law, torts, criminal law, property, and contracts.
- COM 2200: Persuasion (3 hours) OR COM 2020: Argumentation & Debate (3 hours)
- COM 2200: Persuasion (3 hours): Provides advanced skills in the development of messages that aim to influence human behavior, attitudes and values. OR
- COM 2020: Argumentation & Debate (3 hours): This course focuses on argumentation and critical thinking skills with emphasis on analysis, evidence, reasoning, constructing and refuting claims. Students will receive both theoretical background and practice in debate.
- LGS 3130: Legal Entrepreneurship (3 hours): This course will provide a basic understanding of the entrepreneurial process with a focus upon the legal industry, solo practitioners and innovation within the legal industry. Students will also examine entrepreneurship as a career. This course will provide students with the foundation for understanding how to build and manage a solo or small law practice, as well as an introduction to innovation within the legal industry. Students will be provided with fundamental concepts of entrepreneurship, and apply those concepts within the unique environment of a legal setting. Comparisons will be made between entrepreneurship in the legal industry and other business industries, as well as between solo/small firm practice and large firm practice. The course will also discuss recent technological innovations in the legal industry, such as electronic discovery, big data analysis, and artificial intelligence. In addition to the functional implications of innovation, attention will be paid to the implication upon attorney lifestyle, ethics and client management.
- PHI 3430: Philosophy of Law (3 hours) OR PHI 3440: Social & Political Philosophy (3 hours)
- PHI 3420: Philosophy of Law (3 hours): A study of the fundamental theories of the nature of law, the method and uniqueness of judicial reasoning and legal interpretation, the use of the law to enforce morality, and the establishment of legal responsibility and the justification of punishment. OR PHI 3440: Social & Political Philosophy (3 hours): This course explores the broad themes of social and political philosophy. Topics will include the source of legal authority, the nature of sovereignty, revolutions, and the nature and extent of individual rights. Several viewpoints will be considered, including Aristotle’s political naturalism, classical liberalism, communism, libertarianism, and political existentialism.
- MGT 3230: Business Ethics (3 hours): This course presents a practical approach that examines ethical issues faced in the contemporary business environment. A comprehensive body of information about business and managerial ethics is presented. This course uses real-world case studies to enable students to make responsible business ethics decisions
- MGT 4310: Negotiation (3 hours): This is a course in basic negotiation skills for business. Areas addressed include interests, options, alternatives, legitimacy, communication, relationships and commitment. There is a combination of theoretical knowledge and practical skills around conflict management and resolution in the workplace.
- LGS 4010: Legal Writing ( 3 hours): This course trains students in techniques of advanced audience analysis for the writing of a variety of legal documents, and in composing advanced analytical and persuasive legal texts. Students will practice information literacy and research using field appropriate resources; write two analytical memoranda in the closed and in the open forms using techniques of objective writing to apply legal research, analysis and application of relevant aspects of the law to the client’s case, and provide well-organized and supported written communication. Students will also write a substantial analytical and persuasive paper (of roughly 10,000 words with opportunities for revision) in the form of a traditional journal note; a research paper on a legal issue of interest to the student; a trial or an appellate brief; a proposal or recommendation report addressing a significant legal issue; or, an equivalent project developed with the course professor. At the completion of the course, students will have written and been evaluated in writing open and closed memoranda and an extended research-based prose persuasive document representative of professional legal writing for publication or for use as a legal brief.
- MGT 4220: Business Law II (3 hours): A second course in law fundamentals related to business transactions. Topics include: the Uniform Commercial Code, bankruptcy, agency, property, and forms of business organization.
Major Electives (Choose 2 courses from the following)
- MBU 2520: Copyright Law (3 hours): This course provides an in-depth study of copyright law in the entertainment industry including its origins, rationale, protections, and limitations.
- CEI 4360: Entertainment Law & Licensing (3 hours): This course provides an analysis of legal issues that frequently arise in the entertainment industry (e.g., the role of entertainment attorneys, contractual interpretations, right of publicity, freedom of speech, defamation, and obscenity). Additionally, the course is focused on licensing practices for various types of content in the entertainment industries such as textual, musical, audiovisual, and graphic works. Specific topics may include, but are not limited to, licensing intellectual property rights, licensing for film and television, computer games and the online environment, merchandise licensing, and international licensing considerations and practices.
- MBU 3550: Music Industry Contract Law (3 hours): This course examines the background and principles of contract law as applied to the negotiation, creation, interpretation, and enforcement of binding agreements in the music industry.
- PSC 4320: International Law (3 hours): A survey of public international law, this course focuses the nature of international law, its origin and capabilities, and the actors involved. It then pursues these larger issues through specific topics in international law, such as laws of war, sea, or environment.
- PUB 2500: Copyright & Publishing Law (3 hours): This course covers the foundations of copyright law and intellectual property. Specifically it will focus on covers rights (copyright, trademark and right of publicity) that are important for publishers to understand in their business life; and outlines the exemptions and exceptions that publishers can rely on to avoid having to obtain these rights, with special emphasis on fair use. Additionally it will cover issues with regard to print verses digital, US verses international, and works that are public domain.
- MDS 4100: Communication Law (3 hours): Examines governmental regulations affecting news media, advertising, radio broadcasting and telecasting, and the direct effects of such regulations upon management and daily operations.
- SOC 3700: Criminal Justice (3 hours): The study of the institutions that process suspected and convicted criminal offenders, this course focuses on legal codes, courts, police, prisons, and mass-media crime scares. It offers study of the ways in which these institutions shape and are shaped by large-scale inequality.
- SOC 2450: Law and Society (3 hours): This course is designed to utilize sociological concepts and methods to examine the relationship between the legal system and other institutions in society. We will consider the importance of law in shaping our social existence and explore the way laws are structured by people, ideas, and social conditions. During the semester, you will be given the opportunity to: (1) examine historical influences on the role of law in society; (2) isolate contexts and social forces which shape the creation of laws; (3) analyze compatible and competing theoretical explanations used to justify laws; and (4) perfect and demonstrate meaningful exchange of ideas through both written and verbal communication skills.
- REL 3540: Eco-Justice & Faith (3 hours): This course explores ways in which theologies, spiritual traditions, and social ethics guide and motivate human beings in their interaction with the environment. The course examines the tensions between religion and science in order to see how those have an effect on the way we think about the environment. This course applies moral and theological analysis to a broad range of environmental issues.
- REL 3510: Poverty & Justice (3 hours): A study of poverty and homelessness in the United States and the world in light of social, biblical, and theological approaches to economic justice. This course combines experiential and theoretical learning to help students develop an understanding of economic justice.
- LGS 2320: UG Pretrial Procedure: This three credit hour general free elective course is for students interested in auditioning and participating as a member of Belmont´s Undergraduate Mock Trial team, or those interested in Prelaw with desire to learn trial procedure and advocacy. Students will learn Federal Rules of Evidence, trial preparation, courtroom etiquette and procedure, and most importantly rhetorical skills of how to develop opening and closing statements, conduct examination and cross examination of witnesses, and closing statements in a trial courtroom for civil or criminal cases. There are no prerequisites. Instructor’s permission required.
Beyond the classroom, you’ll have a wealth of opportunities to explore law-related opportunities, make connections and discover your purpose.
- Explore the World: Study global conflict transformation at Queen’s University Belfast or pursue other study abroad opportunities or international internships. You can also obtain law-related internships and more through Belmont USA study away programs in NYC, LA and Washington D.C.
- Gain hands-on experience: Pursue an internship through our many Nashville opportunities! Our students have interned in the Metro Nashville Mayor’s Office - Office of Neighborhood and Community Engagement, Nashville Public Defenders Office and for a wide array of attorneys specializing in various areas of the law.
- Join a Student Organization: Choose from 180+ student organizations, including ones focused on various aspects of a career in law like Pre Law Society, AMTA Mock Trial, Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature, International Justice Mission, Enactus and more.