Hoo-boy. From TFL:
The University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law now offers a Master of Science in Law aimed at non-lawyers. The website states that the "degree [is] for professionals who want to know more about the intersection of law and regulation with the technical, scientific or administrative demands of their chosen fields." The subject matter include Environmental Law, Health Care Law, and Patent Law...
The MSL is a degree in law for professionals who do not wish to practice law, but have a job where a knowledge of the law is useful. For example, there are quasi-legal positions such as Contracting Officer for the U.S. Government where a background in the cognizant statutes and regulations would be beneficial. The same could be said for those in the securities industry...this could be a way to counter the decline in law school enrollment, which is currently flat.
A suggestion I have for UMD specifically is to consider offering an MSL in Dispute Resolution. The Law School has a renowned Center for Dispute Resolution. The field of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) often has non-legal professionals practicing in a legal environment...
Here we go again. The desire to render degrees of the of the not-JD-variety continues to proliferate, for the above-mentioned reasons: law school enrollment has declined and remains flat currently, and a multitude of whiz-bang LT FT JD-required jobs continues to not appear.
So why fight it, reasons the Cartel. Go with the flow. The market has spoken, so respond in kind with an alternate product.
As I stated in my related post some three years ago, this "go to law school specifically for JD-Advantage reasons" is too little, too late for many who are already burdened with the smokin' bucketfull of awesome that is otherwise known as the Juris Doctor degree. While the Law School Cartel keeps trying to say "no, really, the scambloggers don't know anything, Law School is still a really great idea," they are clearly hedging their bets by offering these "non-JD" degrees at the same time. Interestingly, there is not a lot of evidence that these programs were in high-demand previously, when the higher-priced Cadillac JD degree was the only game in town.
Actions speak louder than words.
One advantage, to be fair, is cost: the UM MSL degree is 30 credit hours at around $800 per hour - a mere $24,000.00 investment, possibly something one could do while working in their day job in environmental, health care, or patent matters (whatever that would be). For those looking for a credential, who are already working in regulated fields, perhaps an employer could be persuaded to pay for an employee's further education.
At the end of all, however, one still has to question the value, even at a reduced price. There is no practicing law with these degrees, although perhaps that was a pipe-dream anyway for many so who cares. Would employers rather have a MSL candidate over a JD candidate? Possibly - the MSL does not appear to come with "Scarlett Letters," as we have often stated the JD does not offer the flexibility/transferability that the Cartel would have one believe. Are that many employers in regulated industries really looking for an "LLM-Light," however? That remains to be seen, yet it seems unlikely - many folks learn on the job, and there are whole industry-specific businesses that cater to, train and educate those who work in said fields, not unlike the CLE classes we all know and love.
On a personal note: I am sick to death of ADR. I, in my JD-Advantage capacity, have been to enough mediations, arbitrations, and trials to know one thing - give me my trial. Most disputes where ADR comes into play involve money, plain and simple. You are not going to get people to agree by splitting the baby (when it's no one's actual baby in the first instance), which is what happens 95% of the time. ADR is not helping me, it hinders me and wastes my time, and prevents me from asserting the claims and defenses I want to assert in favor of someone else's "judicial efficiency." So stop it with all the ADR concentration-MSL-LLM mamby-pamby crap, and let's get back down to the business of actually trying cases. Thank you.
One thing is for certain - whatever the Cartel tries to say, they are feeling the pinch of lack-of-demand. JDs are not roaring back, schools are teetering, and another income stream is needed to help offset declining balance sheets. The rise of the "MSL" indicates the decline of the JD, full stop.
The best bet for all concerned? Avoid all this, in its entirety, unless someone else is paying for it.