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Alternative Careers for Lawyers

Those interested in law and the justice system may be drawn to a career as a lawyer, but there are a few related career options that might be worth considering. Learn about five of these careers, and get details about their education requirements and salary statistics.

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Alternative Career Options for Lawyers

Lawyers looking for a career change can take their criminal or civil trial experience and translate it to another career involving the justice system. Several similar positions are presented below.

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Author $61,240 (for all writers & authors) 2% (for all writers & authors)
Arbitrator $59,770 (for all arbitrators, mediators & conciliators) 9% (for all arbitrators, mediators & conciliators)
Postsecondary Teacher of Law $111,210 22%
Paralegal $49,500 (for all paralegals & legal assistants) 8% (for all paralegals & legal assistants)
Judge $125,880 (for all judges, magistrate judges & magistrates) 1% (for all judges, magistrate judges & magistrates)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Information on Alternative Career Options for Lawyers

Author

As a lawyer, you often utilize your writing skills for briefs and motions. For those looking to switch fields, you may be interested in a career as an author. Authors utilize their creativity and research skills to produce original works for either print or online publication, and as an author, you could turn your experiences into a career writing fiction or educational material. Working as an author may give you the freedom to work independently if you desire. A bachelor's degree is often required to work as a salaried author.

Arbitrator

Those interested in working as a lawyer might also enjoy working as an arbitrator because they have similar duties. As an arbitrator, you will serve as the liaison between two parties looking to settle issues without going to court. You will guide the parties to a mutual resolution by conducting meetings between the parties, hearing their testimony and that of any appropriate witnesses, and determining the best outcome for both parties. Arbitrators may work independently or as part of a team of arbitrators. You will need at least a bachelor's degree in a field like conflict resolution, although many arbitrators have a law degree or other advanced education.

Postsecondary Teacher of Law

Lawyers looking to share their knowledge of law and experience in the field may enjoy a career as a postsecondary teacher at a college or university. Postsecondary teachers are responsible for creating curricula, instructing and advising students, and monitoring students' progress throughout the course. Other responsibilities may include conducting research, applying for funding to conduct their research, or publishing material in scholarly journals. As a postsecondary teacher, you can choose to work for a large university or a small, private college and typically need a doctoral degree.

Paralegal

Those interested in a career as a lawyer may also want to consider a career as a paralegal because of the shared focus on the law. As a paralegal, your primary function will be to provide assistance to lawyers. This assistance includes research for cases, preparing correspondence, filing appropriate motions, and serving as the liaison with clients and other lawyers. Paralegals work in a variety of industries and need at least an associate's degree in paralegal studies. Despite the difference in education requirements, a lawyer may desire to take a position as a paralegal in order to experience a lighter workload or to gain some experience after taking extended time away from their law career.

Judge

After gaining years of experience as a lawyer, you could transition to a career as a judge. As a judge, you will implement the law by presiding over hearings and trials. You will need to examine all the evidence in a case, hear arguments from the defense counsel and prosecution, and ensure that proper procedures are followed. The vast majority of judges work for state and local governments, with 9% working for the federal government. Most judges need a law degree and are appointed to the position for anywhere from a few years to life, in the case of appellate court judges.

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