Careers in Law

A degree in law can pave the way for a variety of legal careers. Some jobs in the legal profession may require individuals to interact closely with people while others might entail heavy behind-the- scenes research work. For each type of career, the education, training, experience and licensure requirements may vary from state to state.

Featured Programs:

The George Washington University

  • Master of Professional Studies in Paralegal Studies

Types of careers with a law degree:

With a law degree, individuals can pursue careers as:

Lawyers:

Lawyers are responsible for representing and advising individuals and businesses on all matters relating to legal disputes and issues. In order to become a lawyer, you must have a law degree and also pass your respective state?s bar examination.

Education requirements:

In order to become a lawyer, you need to complete at least seven years of full time study after graduating from high school. This will typically be a four year undergraduate degree followed by three years of law school. Many states in the US also require lawyers to complete a juris doctor (J.D) degree from a law school that has been duly accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). These law schools usually require an admission test, known as the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). In law schools, students can pursue specialized courses in areas such as corporate, criminal, civil, labor, environmental, and tax law.

Types of lawyers: Depending upon their different workplaces, lawyers may have different duties. Some of the specializations and types of lawyers include:
  • Criminal law attorneys, who also go by the name of prosecutors or defense attorneys.

  • Defense attorneys, who are responsible for representing and defending their clients. The clients may comprise of individuals or government personnel.

  • Prosecutors, who usually represent the government in filing a charge or a lawsuit against a particular individual or a business corporation.

  • Government counsels work on behalf of the government in handling criminal and civil cases. They usually work in government agencies and are responsible for writing and interpreting various laws and then setting up appropriate procedures to enforce them.

  • Corporate counsels are responsible for advising a corporation?s executives about legal issues pertaining to the corporation?s business dealing and various activities.

  • Legal aid lawyers generally work for private and nonprofit organizations dealing with disadvantaged people.
  • Environmental lawyers are responsible for dealing with legal issues related to the environment. They may represent a variety of groups such as waste disposal companies, NGO?s and other government agencies.

  • Tax lawyers, who are responsible for handling tax related issues for individuals and business corporations.

  • Intellectual property lawyers, who are responsible for dealing with laws related to patents, trademarks and other laws related to inventions and creative properties.

  • Family lawyers, who are responsible for legal issues pertaining to family matters such as divorce, adoption and child custody etc.

  • Securities lawyers, who are responsible for working on legal issues arising from the buying and selling of stocks.

  • Litigation lawyers are responsible for handling lawsuits and disputes between parties. These disputes may include personal injury, contractual, property or real estate disputes.

  • Pay and job outlook:


    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of lawyers is estimated to grow by 10 per cent from 2012 to 2022, a rate that is about as fast as the average of all other occupations. With regard to the pay, the median annual wage for lawyers was recorded at $113,530 in May 2012.

    Paralegals and legal assistants:

    Paralegals and legal assistants usually form the support staff of lawyers and work behind the scenes, assisting lawyers to prepare for trials, hearings and corporate meetings. They carry out legal research, maintain and organize files and are also responsible for drafting documents.

    Education requirements:


    In order to become a paralegal or legal assistant, you usually need to have an associate?s degree in paralegal studies. Some colleges and institutes also offer a certificate degree in paralegal studies. You can also pursue a bachelor?s degree in another field and then earn a certificate degree in paralegal studies. Associate and certificate degree programs usually offer courses in legal applications of computers, legal research paralegal training combined with other academic courses. Many employers hire individuals who have completed a bachelor?s degree and have no legal experience and usually get on the job training. The bachelor?s degree may be in any field.

    Types of paralegals:

    Paralegals can specialize in areas such as personal injury, litigation, criminal law, corporate law, intellectual property, family law, immigration, bankruptcy and real estate. Experienced paralegals may even assume supervisory roles and may oversee and delegate work to junior paralegals.

    Corporate paralegals usually help lawyers with preparing shareholder agreements, stock option plans, employee contacts as well as companies? annual financial reports. They keep track of new government regulations and ensure that the corporation is advised on new legal requirements. Litigation paralegals are responsible for conducting research, maintaining a record of all documents received from clients and organizing evidence to be used in trials.

    Pay and job outlook:

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of paralegals and legal assistants is estimated to grow by 17 per cent from 2012 to 2022, a rate that is faster than the average of all other occupations. With regards to the pay, the median annual wage for paralegals and legal assistants was recorded at $46,990 in May 2012.

    Court reporters:

    Court reporters are responsible for transcribing and recording everything that is said in court and maintain clear and accurate legal records. They usually help lawyers and judges by creating word for word transcriptions at court and administrative hearings, trials as well as other legal proceedings.

    Education requirements:

    In order to become a court reporter, you usually need to have a certificate or associate?s degree in court reporting. Certificate programs provide a comprehensive learning experience for individuals, and help them successfully pass licensing and typing speed tests required by employers and most states. Many states require court reporters who work in legal occupations to be properly licensed by a professional association. The licensure requirements vary from state to state and also depend on the method of court reporting.

    Pay and job outlook:

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of court reporters is estimated to grow by 10 per cent from 2012 to 2022. With regard to the pay, the median annual wage for court reporters was $48,160 in May 2012.

    Judges and hearing officers;

    Judges and hearing officers are responsible for exercising the law by overseeing legal processes in courts. They usually conduct pre trial hearings and negotiations between opposing parties as well as issue legal decisions.

    Education requirements:

    Judges must have a law degree and work experience as lawyers. They must complete seven years of full time study after high school; four years of bachelor degree followed by three years of high school. Most judges are appointed or elected into positions, a procedure that usually requires political support. Moreover, some local and state judges are usually appointed for a specific period of term, usually four years, in an election process.

    Types of judges:

    The different types of judges include;
  • Magistrate judges
  • Municipal court judges
  • County court judges
  • District court judges
  • General trial court judges
  • Hearing officers
  • Pay and Job Outlook:

    The median annual wage for judges, magistrate judges and magistrates was recorded at $115,760 in May 2012 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators

    Arbitrators, mediators and conciliators are responsible for resolving conflicts with the help of dialogue and negotiations between disputing parties, outside of courtroom.

    Education requirements:

    A bachelor?s degree in fields such as law or business administration or a related field is usually necessary. Some institutes offer a certificate program in conflict resolution or a two year?s master?s degree in conflict management.

    Arbitrators, mediators and conciliators are usually retired judges, lawyers or business professionals with an expertise in the field. Some states require mediators to complete a 40 hour basic course in mediation as well as other advanced or specialized training courses.

    Job outlook and pay:

    The demand for arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators is estimated to grow by 10 percent from 2012 to 2022. With regards to the pay, the median annual wage for arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators was $61,280 in May 2012.

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    Q:While going through the career programs in law and legal studies, there was mention of the course on Criminal Law Procedures. What are the content of this course?

    A:It is common to get to read about the course on Criminal Law Procedures while going through the Career Programs in Law and Legal Procedures. This course is worth 3 credits in total. It is designed to provide students with ample understanding of the basics of criminal law in the United States. Students are provided with stringent hands on experience.

    Q:Reading about career in law and legal, I came across American Legal history. What is the purpose of this course?

    A:Course on American legal History would be mentioned when reading about career in law and legal. This course primarily deals with the twentieth century history of American law. Students with the help of this course also learn about development of banking and financial regulations, legal formalism, development of law schools and the right revolution of the Warren Court.

    Q:What will I study in the criminal law course for careers in law and legal practices?

    A:For a career in law or legal practice you will require an overview of all the facets of the law. Criminal law is one such facet. It covers the laws and principles that are in place to prohibit illegal activities and punish the offenders. The course will cover areas such as components of crimes and the sentencing of offenders in our society.

    Q:Can you name a few of the main Careers in Law?

    A:There are many careers in the field of law. You can become an attorney or a lawyer is you plan to practice law. Other occupations include legal assistant careers and paralegal careers. However, for most law careers, having law degree and a license is necessary. Take a look at our page for more detailed information.

    Q:What education can I have for legal administrative assistant careers?

    A:There are over 500 schools in the US offering legal assistant education online which you will need for legal administrative assistant careers. You will need to search online to see which one will be suited to you. You will be asked to fill an application and provide your transcripts to the institution and if you fit their admission criteria you can begin your online legal assistant education.

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