Alumnus Ethan Webster on the Marvelous, Multi-Purpose MLS

RES GESTAE | Spring 2023
Despite its short length, the Master of Legal Studies program gives graduates like Webster a supercharged set of career skills.
by Suzi Morales

Like many professionals, Ethan Webster (MLS '20) had a five-year plan.

Webster had worked in various roles for the University of Utah, most recently as associate registrar. In 2019, when he began the Master of Legal Studies (“MLS”) program at S.J. Quinney College of Law, he hoped the five-year plan would end with a position as a university registrar.

A year after completing the MLS and well before the end of the five-year plan, Webster achieved his goal, becoming the College Registrar for the Pacific College of Health and Science. Not long after that, he added Director of Financial Aid to his title.

Webster enrolled in the MLS program to advance his career in higher education administration. With an undergraduate degree in political science, he was interested in law. He’d dealt with legal questions and regulations in some of his positions with the University of Utah. For example, as an international student advisor, he had to understand the procedures students needed to follow to maintain their visas. But he wasn’t able to step away from his work and make the financial commitment to pursue a JD. The MLS was the right fit for his needs and interests.

Contract negotiation and a “killer deal”

Since graduation, Webster says he’s realized how versatile the skills he learned in the MLS program are. In his registrar position, he has knowledge and confidence to push back on contract terms where he may not have done so before the MLS program. But he also has used these same skills for negotiating his lease, employment contract, and car purchase. “When I bought my car, I got a killer deal,” he notes.

Although the Pacific College of Health and Science is a small private school of approximately 2,000 students, it has campuses in three states as well as a large online presence. The ability to interpret federal and state laws and regulations and form consensus among stakeholders has helped Webster encourage consistency in the operation of a small but geographically diverse college.

“My current job basically is an amalgam of all my [previous] jobs because I’m now actually over the international students, …the [Veteran’s Affairs] is under my umbrella, financial aid and the registrar are all under my umbrella now because of my experience at the University of Utah,” Webster says. “But none of this would have happened if I did not have [the MLS]. My Master of Legal Studies degree basically was the key. The moment that I put that Master of Legal Studies [on my resume], it opened up all the doors.”

MLS serves in variety of fields

While Webster is using his MLS to pursue his ambitions in college administration, he points to the variety of work his MLS classmates do. He says they are using what they learned in industries that include food packaging, real estate development, medical testing, and yes, even law.

With his own goal accomplished and years left in the five-year plan, Webster has plenty of options for what’s next—and he’s confident the MLS will help him get there.

“The degree will give you something useful in any job field,” he says.