Law & Paralegal
What careers fall within the Law and Paralegal fields?
So, as part of the Criminal Justice system, Attorneys give clients legal advice, prepare court documents, negotiate disputes, and argue law cases before a judge or a jury. To become an Attorney, you need to get a Bachelor’s degree—the particular major doesn’t matter, but most future lawyers choose something like political science, criminology, or English. Then get a qualifying score on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), apply to law school, and earn a Juris Doctor degree (J.D.). Then they pass the Bar Exam to be able to argue cases in court. So, that’s about 7 years of college work after high school plus the time to prepare for and pass the bar exam. Jobs that are possible with a J.D. degree at the entry level before passing the Bar are things like Research Lawyer, Public Defender, or Junior Associate at a law firm. Once in the Bar you can practice law as an Attorney, possibly specializes in one area of the law. Other options with a J.D. exist, too: something in public service, like a lawyer for a social service agency in the government or an employee assistance program. And, along with an M.B.A. degree, there are lots of opportunities for lawyers in corporations, especially banks and financial institutions. If you’re willing to spend the years preparing for one of these jobs, you can be well rewarded for your hard work with what could be a really interesting, maybe even exciting, career.
There are many positions in the field of Law that don’t require the J.D. degree, jobs that you may want to consider, too: E-Discovery Professionals, who do the complex work of organizing documents electronically for use in trials. Legal Nurse Consultant, Trial Consultant, Mediator, Compliance Specialist, Legal Secretary are among the possibilities. Becoming a Paralegal is well worth considering. A Paralegal is a person who has the education, training, or experience to do legal work as assigned and monitored by a lawyer. So, wherever a lawyer can work—legal office, business, government agency—paralegals can work too, under the supervision of the lawyers. Paralegals evaluate facts and data for cases, draft responses and various legal documents, and communicate with clients in person or in writing. So, they do really important legal work; they just can’t do it in their own practice—a lawyer has to be there to supervise. Yes, there are degrees in paralegal and legal studies at all different levels. An Associate’s degree in Paralegal Studies, maybe with some additional certificate work, will qualify you for an entry-level job. And you can also earn a Bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies that will prepare you for the field. So, what direction should you go? It partly depends on where you are—geographically, that is. If you’re in a job market where there are a lot of qualified candidates competing for jobs–maybe a big city or town that has lots of educational opportunities and lots of lawyers–you may need to ramp up your credentials. If you don’t have a degree, you should probably complete an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in Paralegal or Legal Studies to qualify to get into the field. Yes, it’s true: Some paralegals eventually decide to apply to law school. Of course, they already have a leg-up on what’s going to be needed to pass their courses and the bar exam. So, what are jobs in the field of Paralegal? A few job titles that you’ll see are Paralegal, Legal Assistant, Litigation Paralegal, Paralegal Specialist, Certified, Bilingual Paralegal, Techie Paralegal, and Paralegal – Defense Litigation.