If you feel drawn to the legal profession, an obvious career path is to become a lawyer. However, there are plenty of other options within the legal sector to satisfy your professional aspirations.
The legal field relies on more than its attorneys to interpret the law and support various law-related activities. And the great news is that overall employment in many legal occupations is expected to grow by 10% over the next decade.
What Is the Legal Profession?
The legal profession is a discipline that involves everything related to the field of law. While lawyers and judges are the most recognizable roles, there are many others involved in keeping the wheels of justice moving smoothly such as court reporters or counselors.
This profession focuses on the maintenance and administration of the legal system and includes professionals like lawyers, counselors, judges, paralegals, court reporters, and others.
Let’s explore some of the most popular jobs in the legal profession to give you an idea of how to get involved in this profession—with or without a law degree.
8 Popular Jobs in the Legal Field
Jobs in legal are bountiful and varied enough to suit a broad range of individuals with equally unique interests, educational backgrounds, and professional goals.
Here are the seven of the most popular jobs in the legal profession.
Becoming a lawyer is the obvious first choice to mention since it is the front-and-center role. If you are attending law school or plan to, it is a reasonable career choice. As a practicing lawyer, you will represent and advise individuals, private businesses, and government agencies regarding various types of legal issues and disputes.
Once you complete law school and pass your state’s bar exam, you don’t necessarily have to practice your profession in court. You might take on a role as an advisor, consultant, or general counsel for a business.
The following are a few specialized legal fields where you might ultimately select to practice as a lawyer:
- Estate law
- Immigration law
- Tax law
- Real estate law
- Trial law
- Intellectual property law
- Contract law
- Corporate law
- Family law
- Employment and Labor law
- Personal Injury law
- Patent law
- Criminal law
It is important to distinguish the difference between a lawyer and an attorney. Compared to the definition of a lawyer above, who might serve in an advisory role outside the courtroom, an attorney does, by definition, practice law in court. If someone has a desire to practice law in court, they must pass the state’s bar exam, which will entitle the attorney to practice law in a specific jurisdiction and its legal system. Attorneys are also known as trial or litigation lawyers.
But like lawyers, attorneys are still bound by the same laws and code of ethics and are allowed to practice in criminal and civil courts within their respective jurisdiction.
Both lawyers and attorneys can eventually become judges, teach law in the classroom as a professor, or become a meditator.
A mediator serves as an intermediary tasked with helping to find a resolution between parties or individuals who have a dispute before the case escalates and goes to court. The professional in this role listens to both sides of a conflict and does his or her best to discern the best possible outcome for both parties, which often involves some sort of compromise.
This legal profession is ideal for someone who can make objective observations and ensure that both parties understand the value of compromise that will help them avoid a costly, disruptive, and time-consuming court case.
Mediators might work for government agencies, law firms, or another third party seeking a resolution. Most states require these professionals to have a certification or to complete a certain number of pro bono mediator hours before practicing, but often, they are practicing or retired lawyers.
4. Paralegal or Legal Assistant
- Investigate, gather, and review the facts of a case
- Perform research on laws, regulations, and legal articles relevant to a case
- Organize and maintain documents and files in paper format or electronic filing systems
- Draft correspondence and legal documents for case preparation and attorney review
- Assist lawyers, attorneys, or mediators in preparing for trials, mediations, depositions, and corporate meetings
- Use computer software, technology, and online sources to conduct research and to manage and organize large amounts of data compiled during each case
Though they may seem to be interchangeable, these two roles are different. Paralegals mainly focus on the legal tasks, while assistants can dive into more administrative duties, but both are crucial parts of helping law firms and legal systems function. They also don’t require law degrees, though they are great entry-level roles if you want to gauge the legal field before committing to law school.
Other litigation support roles include trial consultants and forensic accountants, among other positions.
5. Court Reporter
Court reporters, also known as stenographers, transcribe both spoken and recorded speech that happen in court rooms and other legal proceedings. They are the backbone of making sure that what happens between parties within the legal system is accurately transcribed into written word. These transcripts can then be used by both parties as evidence within proceedings. This role does not require a law degree.
Court reporters are different than journalists who cover the legal system, but that is another great career option if you’re interested in the law but not interested in practicing!
6. Office Administrators
Separate from paralegals and legal assistants are office administrators, or law office managers. These people help law firms operate from an administrative perspective. These tasks can include:
- Bookkeeping and other financial duties
- Hiring support staff
- Maintaining office space
- Customer service with clients and other parties
- Scheduling meetings and appointments
A legal caseworker helps clients navigate the complex legal system and provides legal advice, guidance, and support to individuals or organizations facing various legal issues. These professionals can:
- Review legal documents
- Conduct legal research and analyses
- Represent clients in negotiations or court proceedings
Although legal caseworkers do no need a J.D. to successfully do their job, they may need other educational qualifications or credentials depending on their location and employer.
8. Legal IT Jobs
As technology becomes an indispensable tool for most businesses, the legal profession is no exception. Legal firms, courts, and corporations need to have professionals who are both tech-savvy and familiar with the legal profession. Some common IT roles needed within the legal profession include:
Overall, these roles build, support, and manage tech-based legal systems and processes like overseeing technological resources, constructing IT infrastructure, and encouraging e-discovery initiatives.
Not all of these roles are hired in-house at firms. These processes and job roles often are contracted out to third parties.
Are You Ready to Find A Job in the Legal Industry?
Whether you are just getting started in the legal profession and need an entry-level role, or you are looking for the perfect firm to work with, our Insight Global team can help you find the right legal role in the right environment. Check out our job board, and build a profile so we can match you with roles that are perfect for you!