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.
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 can help lawyers organize legal documents, analyze cases and prepare for trial. Paralegals may be trained on the job, but more commonly they can complete undergraduate programs in paralegal studies at the certificate, associate degree and bachelor's degree levels. Master's degree programs may also exist as continuing education options for professionals that need legal training.
Aspiring lawyers need strong written and oral communications skills. They also need the research and analytical skills to understand how different statutes operate for the purposes of advising their clients' decisions, legislative intent and litigation that goes to trial. Lawyers spend most of their time advising clients, conducting research or gathering information to argue a case or prevent litigation.
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.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that paralegals earned a median annual salary of $46,680 in 2010, while lawyers received a median annual salary of $112,760 (www.bls.gov). Job growth for lawyers is expected to increase 13% from 2008-2018, but demand could be tempered by the increased reliance of businesses on paralegals to reduce costs.
Learn More About the Legal Profession
At Education-Portal, you can explore a variety of career options within the legal profession and different educational options depending on the occupational path you choose. At a minimum, you'll need to earn a J.D. before you can practice law, and you can acquire hands-on experience under the supervision of a licensed legal professional as a law student.
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.
- Legal Counsel Training Options
- Master of Laws in Health Law
- Major in Legal Studies
- Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration
- Doctor of Health Law
Lawyers usually specialize in one or more areas of practice. Education-Portal is here to 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
Distance Learning Options
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.
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