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Who Should Earn an Executive Juris Doctor?

February 20, 2019 | Martin Pritikin, JD

People go to law school for many different reasons. For some, they imagine themselves as a courtroom lawyer, cross-examining witnesses and persuading juries. Others have no interest in setting foot in a courtroom; instead, they want advanced legal training to give them career advantages or to open up avenues to switch careers.

Fortunately, there are options. In deciding whether to attend law school, you should also consider which degree program will best serve your interests and career goals. While most law schools offer only the Juris Doctor degree (JD), Purdue Global Law School is unique in that we also offer an Executive Juris Doctor degree (EJD). The information below can help you decide which may be right for you.

What Is a Juris Doctor Degree?(JD)

Although lawyers do many things, there are certain tasks—such as making a court appearance on behalf of a client, conducting depositions, and engaging in settlement negotiations in litigation—that are technically considered to be “the practice of law.” As such, only licensed attorneys are generally permitted to do them.

If your goal is to perform these types of tasks, you will want to pursue the JD degree. Purdue Global Law School’s JD program is a 4-year, part-time law program designed to prepare graduates to sit for and pass the California Bar Exam to become licensed attorneys (although there are various opportunities outside California as well).

What Is an Executive Juris Doctor Degree? (EJD)

Many people don’t realize that the things they hope to do with a law degree don’t actually require a law license.

For example, in some corporations, having a law degree is a big plus for moving into senior management positions, even though these roles don’t require engaging in tasks that qualify as the practice of law. Senior executives benefit from understanding both the business and legal ramifications of corporate decisions or policy, especially since so many aspects of modern business are highly regulated. A law degree is beneficial for many areas, including:

  • Employee benefits

  • Wage, hour, and labor law

  • Occupational health and safety

  • Banking and securities

  • Environmental compliance

Specialty Fields

Then there are specialty fields, where a background in both law and some other discipline can be a powerful combination. For example:

  • Patent law. Those with a background in science or engineering who go on to get a law degree may be ideally suited to work in the field of patent law. Although patent litigators must be licensed attorneys, they can work as patent agents and pursue patent prosecution if they pass the patent bar, which requires a combination of technical and legal knowledge but does not require passing a general bar exam.

  • Health care. Doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals who obtain advanced legal training may be well positioned to move into hospital administration, health insurance, or other management positions.

  • Finance. The financial industry has long been an arena with strong overlap with law, since ensuring compliance with the complex and changing web of regulations is critical to firms. 

  • Government and nonprofit sectors. Legal training is valuable even in the government or nonprofit sector. For example, many schools and colleges are hiring specialists in sexual harassment and discrimination law in response to increased enforcement of federal laws.

  • Mediation. Many people don’t realize that they don’t need to be a licensed attorney to be a mediator, although the advanced legal training that lawyers have is invaluable to understanding and resolving the cases they work on.

  • In your current role. Some people want to pursue a law degree even without changing jobs, either because they want to communicate and interface more effectively with the legal professionals within their company or organization, or sometimes simply because they love the law and want to understand it on a deep level.

The Benefits of Choosing the Executive Juris Doctor

While we are justifiably proud of Purdue Global Law School’s JD program and of its students and graduates, there may be several benefits to pursuing an EJD instead:

  • Purdue Global Law School’s part-time EJD program takes 3 years instead of 4 years. This means not only less time but also less money for students.

  • Since EJD students do not intend to practice law, they do not need to take or pass regulatory exams—the California First Year Law Students Exam or the Bar Exam—like JD students.

  • Although EJD students take many of the same classes, with the same professors, as JD students, EJD students have more flexibility in terms of their course loads and which courses they take because the program is less closely regulated by the State Bar. EJD students can complete a general program of study, or they can pursue one of four EJD specialization tracks:

    • Business Law

    • Law and Technology

    • Health Law

    • Education Law

Even if you think you might have the litigation bug but still don't intend to become licensed or practice law, there may be opportunities if you pursue an EJD at Purdue Global Law School. Certain dispute resolution forums are operated under the auspices of regulatory agencies, not Article III courts, and so even non-lawyers may be able to advocate on behalf of participants (and get paid for their work). These may include immigration courts; Medicare, veteran’s benefits, and Social Security benefits denial appeals; Equal Employment Opportunity Commission courts; and more. You can learn more about each of these in the Careers section of our blog.

Learn More About the EJD Program at Purdue Global Law School

If the above resonates with you and your career goals, an EJD might be the right option for you. Purdue Global Law School’s mission is to provide a first-rate legal education at more affordable rates than private law schools, with an EJD tuition at under $12,000 per year. Applicants to the EJD program at Purdue Global Law School must have a bachelor’s degree from an institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and take our online admissions test (which is somewhat similar to, but shorter than, the Law School Admissions Test, and can be taken entirely online).

Choosing a law program is a big decision, and it is important to learn what you can about your options. For more information, contact us today.

About The Author

Martin Pritikin, JD

Martin Pritikin serves as Dean and Vice President at Purdue Global Law School (formerly Concord Law School). The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Purdue Global Law School.

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