The legal field includes a variety of professional and support careers. However, all of these careers are focused on lawyers, the tasks they perform and various issues related to both preventing and participating in litigation. Read on to learn more.
Inside the Legal Profession
Individuals who are interested in a legal career who aren't planning to become lawyers may consider work as legal assistants or paralegals. These individuals help lawyers organize legal documents, analyze cases and prepare for trial. Lawyers are responsible for the actual representation of clients, which involves numerous in-depth tasks, and they must be licensed.
At Study.com, you can explore a variety of career options within the legal profession and different educational options depending on the occupational path you choose.
Paralegals may be trained on the job, but more commonly they can complete undergraduate programs in paralegal studies at the certificate, associate and bachelor's levels. Master's programs may also exist as continuing education options for professionals that need legal training.
To practice as a legal professional, students need to earn an undergraduate degree and a Juris Doctor (J.D.). Specialized practice might require additional training or a dual degree. For example, students looking to enter the legal profession as environmental lawyers might earn a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Environmental Law after they complete a J.D. program. Students can also earn a dual degree in law school, such as the J.D./Master of Business Administration. After completing a J.D. program at a law school recognized by the American Bar Association (ABA), students will need to take the bar exam in their state before practicing law.
You'll generally need to earn your legal degree on-campus. With the exception of California law schools, the ABA doesn't recognize J.D. programs unless they provide in-person training, access to a law library and legal research experience. You can also continue your legal studies by earning an LL.M. or doctorate. Check out the links below to learn more about common education options for aspiring legal professionals.
- Paralegal Associate Degree
- Legal Counsel Training Options
- Master of Laws in Health Law
- Major in Legal Studies
- Doctor of Health Law
Although distance education options may not be available to prepare individuals to become lawyers, students can still find online programs that prepare them for work in the legal field. The following articles explain these relevant distance education options further.
- Online Paralegal Studies Programs
- Online Legal Secretary Diploma
- Online Legal Office Management Bachelor's Degree
- Online Legal Studies Master's Degree
Lawyers usually specialize in one or more areas of practice. The Study.com pages listed below can help you learn about many of the specializations pursued by legal professionals, the type of work involved and what you might expect in the workforce.
- Government Attorney
- Constitutional Law Fields
- Legal Career Options
- Executive Legal Secretary
- Legal Careers in Taxation, Trade and Business
Salary Information and Employment Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that paralegals earned a median annual salary of $47,570 in 2013, while lawyers received a median annual salary of $114,300 (www.bls.gov). Jobs for lawyers were expected to increase 10% from 2012-2022, which is on par with the national average of 11% for all job sectors, but demand could be tempered by clients' increased reliance on paralegals to reduce costs. Employment opportunities for paralegals were expected to rise 17% between 2012 and 2022, which is faster than average.
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