Career Definition of a Constitutional Lawyer
The field of constitutional law deals mainly with the interpretation and implementation of the rights, rules, and amendments outlined in the United States Constitution. Constitutional law is often applied to cases that are argued in federal courts, including the Supreme Court. Like other attorneys, constitutional lawyers can work as solo practitioners or as members of law firms. Professional duties include conducting legal research, discussing court cases with clients and colleagues, and arguing cases in court before a judge or judges.
|Education||Bachelor's degree and J.D. degree, plus admission to the state and/or federal bar|
|Job Skills||Keen attention to detail, critical thinking skills, interpersonal skills, ability to work well under pressure, excellent verbal and written communication skills|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$119,250 (all lawyers)|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||8% (all lawyers)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Constitutional lawyers must hold a bachelor's degree and obtain a juris doctor (J.D.) degree from an accredited law school before being admitted to the bar association of the state in which they want to practice. Admission to the bar of a state's federal court or the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States is also necessary because many constitutional lawyers argue cases in these courts. After law school, some attorneys, including constitutional lawyers, earn a Master of Laws degree or obtain a professional certification from the American Bar Association, among other organizations.
Constitutional lawyers must be knowledgeable about the technicalities of constitutional law and its amendments, including Supreme Court decisions that have established new legal precedents. Additionally, constitutional lawyers must be detail oriented, interact well with clients, and possess excellent written and verbal communication skills. The ability to work well under pressure and think critically and analytically about the laws and concepts discussed in the constitution are also required.
Career and Economic Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for lawyers nationwide are expected to increase by 8% from 2016 to 2026, an about as-fast-as-average rate when compared to other occupations. Although income can vary according to education and experience level, lawyers in May 2017 earned a median annual salary of $119,250 (www.bls.gov).
Alternate Career Options
Similar career options in this field include:
Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators
Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators use their communication abilities to help parties in conflict resolve their differences outside of the courts. Like lawyers, they use legal criteria and precedents to facilitate the resolution process, and their responsibilities can include interviewing disputing parties and witnesses and preparing formal settlement agreements. A bachelor's degree is the minimum educational requirement for obtaining a position; some employers may prefer candidates with a law degree or a Master of Business Administration. The BLS reports a 10% growth outlook, faster than the average job growth, for arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators nationwide between 2016 and 2026. In May 2017, professionals in this field earned a median annual salary of $60,670.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants, excluding legal secretaries, support lawyers by conducting research, organizing files, and preparing formal documents. An associate's degree is the usual requirement for obtaining a position; candidates with a bachelor's degree in another field of study may complete a certificate in paralegal studies or pursue on-the-job training. In May 2017, paralegals and legal assistants received a median yearly salary of $50,410, according to the BLS. Employment opportunities between 2016 and 2026 are expected to increase by a rate of 15%.