Most people think of attorneys when they consider a legal profession. Still, until you manage to put yourself through law school and get that degree, there are a variety of other rewarding law professions that you can follow in order to gain more experience. The best thing is, all of these can be done part-time, so you can focus on finishing law school and have some active involvement in the field until then.
Many successful lawyers started as paralegals or mediators and worked their way up to become partners at prestigious law firms, so who knows what these experiences may bring. So, without further ado, here are some professions in the legal field that you can use to improve your knowledge while still in law school.
Paralegal or legal assistant
Attorneys' support staff is made up of paralegals and legal assistants, which is becoming a popular professional choice for law students. Opportunities in the paralegal profession are growing as clients seek ways to minimize the cost of legal services, and overwhelmed lawyers delegate an ever-expanding range of tasks. Paralegal services are normally billed at a rate of 25% to 50% of a lawyer's hourly rate.
Many paralegals perform the same tasks as attorneys, but they are not permitted to provide legal advice or negotiate payments for services because they do not have a law degree.
Legal transcriptionists listen to and transcribe recordings made by lawyers, paralegals, or various professionals. They usually listen to recordings via a headset, pausing the recording with a foot pedal when needed, and typing the text on a computer.
Correspondence, pleadings, motions, and agreements are just some of the documents a legal transcription company will handle. Some of the transcribed documents may be used in court.
To ensure the clarity of the legal documents, transcriptionists may be required to continuously edit the information they transcribe. Legal transcriptionists can also be responsible for administrative tasks such as arranging and filing legal records, as well as keeping track of deadlines.
More people and businesses are turning to mediators, also known as arbitrators or conciliators, to resolve legal conflicts outside of the courts, so mediators have become a valuable part of any reputable law firm.
As legal costs rise and the area of alternative dispute resolution increases, the number and popularity of mediators continue to grow. In fact, several states require mediation as a first attempt at settlement in some civil disputes before they can go to trial.
In high-stakes jury trials, lawyers rely on jury consultants to obtain an advantage. These experts offer insight into juror behavior and assist lawyers in developing arguments and trial themes that will convince jurors. These consultants use observational evidence to forecast juror preferences. This can be extremely useful during voir dire, as well as the jury selection process.
Jury consultants gained attention as a result of high-profile court proceedings, such as the O.J. Simpson or Martha Stewart cases. In high-stakes lawsuits, jury consultant fees can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Successful jury consultants can sometimes receive six-figure salaries.