Last Updated: August 09, 2021

Law as a Career

For any process to work smoothly, a set of rules and guidelines is always necessary. Laws are created and implemented to maintain this balance in society. Laws are applicable for almost every facet of life, from something as weighty as business, trade, or politics, to something as quotidian as traffic rules, buying a house, spending money, and so on. Laws exist to remind us of the dos and don'ts when one comes across different kinds of issues and requires a resolution. But it is not always practical for everyone to be aware of every law by rote, or understand its complications. In such cases, specialization in law is important, or rather, experts in the field of law are valuable.

Studying law can often be unnerving and time-consuming. But with the right attitude, hard work, and passion, one may unravel a multitude of opportunities along with significant development of various skills, given that it is an intellectually challenging path. Law is a popular course of study that undoubtedly offers versatility, satisfaction, a stable income, respectability, and most importantly, the power to make a difference. Therefore, it will be wise to have a basic understanding of the endless opportunities that are available before making a choice.

Educational Requirements
To begin an educational career as a law student, one may have to start with pursuing an undergraduate degree in law from an accredited university or college, which is a four-year course. One should also crack the LSAT exams before applying for a postgraduate degree. Depending on the career aspirations, one can either decide to complete an LLM (Master of Law) or earn a three-year J.D. (Juris Doctor) degree. A Juris Doctor degree along with passing a state Bar exam is essential to become a lawyer. A Ph.D. in law can be completed if one chooses to follow the path of advanced research in legal studies or enter the field of academia.

Popular Career Options Popular for Law Students

The most popular careers for students in the field of law are:

Lawyer

Lawyers are legal experts who advise and assist clients on legal affairs and represent them in court proceedings. A lawyer is required to have in-depth knowledge about the laws of the state or country. They also keep track of the necessary information related to the client and the cases involved. Therefore, lawyers are required to study each case carefully, prepare a record of the client's history or background, collect necessary legal documents and reports related to the case, offer solutions to the issues faced by the client, and take part in court hearings. There are different types of lawyers according to specialty: Qualification and Salary- An undergraduate degree in law and a Juris Doctor degree is essential to start practice as a lawyer. One must have cleared the state bar exam. Given that this is a lucrative career option, the average annual income of a lawyer may be approximately $70,000 and may further increase up to $140,000 based on the area of specialization, location, experience, and expertise.

Detective/Investigator

Detectives or investigators are required to carry on a series of different investigations related to law violations, gather pieces of evidence, and evaluate information using available resources. They are to collaborate with other experts and police officers to obtain accurate findings of each case. The job also includes questioning and interviewing criminals, witnesses, or people related to the cases to prepare reports based on findings and interpreted data. They may also have to take part in conducting raids, searches, or arrests.
Qualification and Salary- At times, a high school diploma is the minimum educational requirement to be a part of an investigating team. A training experience with the law enforcement team will be beneficial for the candidate to get hired. To be a criminal investigator, or an investigator under a law firm, or even a private detective, one needs to have an undergraduate degree and sometimes a master’s in Legal Studies. The average annual income of an investigator is approximately $50,000 and may further increase up to $72,000 based on location, experience, and expertise.

Law Librarian

Law librarians are research experts who assist people in searching for facts and information they are looking for. They are required to collect, organize, maintain, and archive various records and classified materials. They conduct legal research and help law students, clerks, and attorneys obtain reliable information and analyze legal resources. They may work in a law school, with a law agency, law library, court, government libraries, or under a government federation.
Qualification and Salary- A master's degree in library science or law from an institute accredited by the American Bar Association is required to become a law librarian. Some organizations require a candidate with a J.D. degree and a license. The average annual income of a law librarian is around $54,000 and may further increase up to $80,000 approximately based on location, experience, and expertise.

Paralegal

Paralegals perform the role of a legal secretary or advisor for lawyers or solicitors of a law firm, or under a government, private, or public organization. Paralegals mostly work for law offices, and courts and provide legal support services to attorneys. Responsibilities of a paralegal include filing materials such as motions, memoranda, pleadings, and organizing files of different cases in various court systems, as well as accompany lawyers. Other duties include interviewing or interrogating clients, editing pleadings, helping organizing, proofreading, and reviewing legal documents and contracts to ensure the inclusion of relevant information. They may have to travel to various courts to accompany their organization's lawyers, and they may have to train junior paralegals.
Qualification and Salary- The average annual income of a paralegal is around $40,000 and may further increase up to $60,000 approximately based on the organization, location, experience, and expertise. Having a bachelor's degree in legal studies along with an internship is essential to get hired as a paralegal.

Compliance Officer

Compliance officers assess if the organization and its members are following guidelines and abiding by the laws stated in a legal document, such as licenses or permits. They are required to design and develop various policies for the organization or review and revise existing policies in the organization. They should also address issues with regards to violation of regulations, identify loopholes within the system, and advise or educate trainees and employees within the organization.
Qualification and Salary- An undergraduate degree in law with the required skills in business and administration, or an additional MBA degree is sufficient to get hired as a compliance officer. However, some organizations also require certification (Certified Compliance and Ethics Professional Program, for instance). The average annual income of a Compliance Officer is approximately $63,000 and may further increase up to $90,000 based on location, experience, and expertise.

Probation Officer

Probation officers assist to rehabilitate criminal offenders and track their progress to avoid further criminal activities. Probation officers are required to conduct a thorough inspection of the people accused of crimes, look for previous records of crime (if any) and check the circumstances that may have led to the crime. Probation officers are to regularly check on the prisoners to ensure that they are abiding by the rules of the probation sentence, and inform the court in case of any violation of the guidelines. Probation officers also work with local law enforcement and conduct their own investigations to verify information offered by offenders during probation meetings.
Qualification and Salary- An undergraduate degree in law, especially in the specialization of criminal justice, along with extensive training is essential to get hired as a probation officer. The average annual income of a Probation Officer is approximately $40,000 and may further increase up to $60,000 based on location, experience, and expertise.

Employment Lawyer

Employment lawyers deal with legal issues pertaining to companies and workplaces. They are required to ensure no rules and regulations, or rights are violated, conduct legal research into past cases, and evaluate and organize various company documents, employment contracts, or other legal documents. They are also responsible to provide legal advice to both employees and employers and being up to date with new developments in employment regulations. They may also review and revise company policies.
Qualification and Salary- A Juris Doctor degree from an accredited law institute is mandatory to work as an employment lawyer. The average base salary of an employment lawyer is estimated to be around $80,000

Other Popular Careers

Law is a discipline that extensively teaches students to improve their analytical and reasoning skills, with an extraordinary focus on communication and problem handling. The kind of expertise that is achieved, thereafter, is valuable not just for its application in the field of law, but also for careers outside it. As mentioned previously, studying law offers a plethora of versatile job opportunities, and one may choose to be an advocate or a judge. Some may as well opt for a career that is not directly involved with legal studies. Alternate career options include: Students who wish to enter the area of academia may pursue a career as a lecturer in a law school or university with a Ph.D. degree, which will further help them to practice law and conduct extensive legal research.

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