ProgramsAndDegrees

5 Great Law Career Alternatives

A lingering misconception that is prevalent among many people, both inside and out of the legal field, is that law students have a very limited range of choices when it comes to their career options. This is simply not true. Law graduates are not bound to being attorneys, solicitors and judges alone, in fact, the legal field offers a large number of respectable and fulfilling career alternatives for those interested in studying law. Better yet, the legal field is also saturated with opportunities in support positions for those currently studying towards full law degrees and for those whose no longer wish to continue with their legal studies.  

Here are a few law professions to consider.

Court Ushers

If a responsible role in the courtroom appeals to you, then this position is just what you're looking for. Court ushers are required to ensure that all the parties involved in a court case are present, also ensuring that all parties understand what is expected of them during the hearing. The objective of their position is to ensure that the court process runs smoothly, so good communication and interpersonal skills are essential in this sort of position.

In most regions, a tertiary education in law is not necessarily required to obtain such a position. The successful completion of high school, the relevant personal qualities, and the lack of a criminal record is generally all you'll need, although many employers would favour those with a legal education.

Paralegal

A paralegal is an individual suited by education and training to undertake essential legal tasks that require a solid understanding of the law and its procedures. Paralegals are not qualified solicitors or barristers, they may be hired by barristers, solicitors or judges and are often the unseen stronghold of every legal firm, courthouse and business.

Within the legal profession, paralegals are often the most essential members of any legal team as they undertake key roles in the legal process. This profession is not one to be taken lightly, however, and is certainly not suitable for those who do not enjoy challenging tasks. The work paralegals do is almost identical to that done by the solicitors who hire them.

Legal Secretary

Legal secretaries type legal documents, including pleadings, motions, briefs, discovery documents and subpoenas. They create harmony in the legal work environment by overseeing complicated docket systems; they also create spreadsheets, update pleadings, schedule depositions and hearings, and set up closings and meetings.

Often, experienced secretaries get promoted to senior positions or paralegal positions within the law firm or organization. This is because they usually become the most informed and most procedure-savvy employees within their organizations, and this renders them valuable to the entity.

While there are a great number of secretaries in the legal field who hold no formal training, most career opportunities exist for trained legal secretaries who have completed some post-secondary training or possess certification of some kind. Legal secretarial programs are offered by community colleges, technical centers and private career schools and take one to two years to complete.

Barristers

Barristers are professional legal advisers and court room advocates. They are trained to analyse and assess court cases, and can advise clients on the strengths and weaknesses of their arguments. Barristers are independent and objective. They hold professional and specialist knowledge along with large amounts of experience in and out of court. It is their knowledge and experience that make substantial differences to the outcome of court battles.

The steps needed to become a barrister include three main stages:

  1. The Academic Stage: A completed law degree. (LLB) 
  2. Vocational Stage: The Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) 
  3. Pupillage: A year spent as a pupil in barristers' chambers. 

Legal Executives

A chartered legal executive is eligible to become a partner in a law firm and is allowed to share in the firm's profits. In countries that recognise this profession, it mandatory for law firms to have chartered legal executives placed in executive positions.

Legal executives often specialize in a particular area of law. They are eligible as advocates and can undertake certain judicial appointments. As qualified lawyers, chartered legal executives are bound by strict regulations and a code of ethics as with other types of lawyers. Depending on the region, a chartered legal executive can apply to become a District Judge from as little as five years of being in practice.

Another benefit that comes from aspiring to be a legal executives is that those studying or in training can often occupy paid paralegal roles to fulfill the mandatory three-year vocational stage needed to qualify as a Chartered Legal Executive.

Conclusion

The truth is that there are so many jobs in and outside of the law field that make great use of a legal education, law students are completely spoiled for choice.

 

Image: Flickr’s Creative Commons

 

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