Law is one of the most diverse and largest fields in the world, and there are a variety of jobs available within it. While most people think of working as a lawyer, you can also find employment as a paralegal, librarian, legal assistant, legal secretary, or document clerk. However, you must have the right education before applying for appropriate job openings. It can be helpful to learn what type of education is needed for a variety of legal positions.
Become a Lawyer
This job requires a lot of work on your part and can take many years to complete your training. The first step is to determine what a lawyer does and if it’s right for you.
Lawyers take on clients and talk about their rights. Lawyers also advocate on behalf of their clients. You can find a variety of lawyer positions. A few common lawyer types include:
- Criminal Defense Lawyers
- Civil Attorneys
- Transactional Attorneys
- Many more
Primarily, criminal defense lawyers represent people who have been accused of a crime. They can negotiate plea bargains, take cases to trial, and may handle appeals, as well. Prosecutors, on the other hand, represent the government and prosecute those who are accused of committing crimes.
Along with such, civil attorneys can draft motions, research arguments, and gather together evidence. They primarily handle non-criminal cases, such as slip-and-fall cases, divorce, medical malpractice, and others. Civil attorneys prefer to settle out of court, but they can take your case to trial if needed.
Transactional attorneys help people with personal and business transactions, such as purchasing a house, starting a business, or writing a will. They can draft appropriate legal documents.
To become a lawyer, you need to have seven years of education, which includes an undergraduate degree in any educational field (four years) and a three-year JD degree. While you can study anything at the undergraduate level, you may want to focus on the type of lawyer you want to be and take courses relating to that. For example, if you’re going to be an intellectual property lawyer, you may want to earn a degree in hard or computer science. The next step is to pass the bar exam, which is usually a two-day test.
While in law school, you can start researching options and determine what type of lawyer you want to be. Once you graduate, start applying for jobs.
A paralegal can help lawyers with a variety of tasks, such as:
- Gathering/checking facts
- Preparing mail and contacting clients
- Draft legal documents (pleadings, discovery requests)
- Perform legal research
- Prepare documents for trial
- Assist at trial
Paralegals don’t have a particular study course to follow, but they might require an Associate’s degree, which takes two years to complete. Some colleges also offer a Bachelor’s degree in Paralegal study, which is a four-year degree. You can also find a certificate of completion, as well.
Once you have the right education or training, you should create a resume with any work experience that pertains to paralegal duties, get a list of references/letters of recommendation, and start searching for jobs.
While many lawyers type their documents themselves, you can still find work as a legal secretary to perform many tasks, including scheduling, arranging, and billing.
To become a legal secretary, you need a degree or certificate. You can consider interning at a legal office or get a job as an administrative assistant to gain experience in the field. You should also search for jobs and apply for them following the instructions.
Most courthouses, law schools, and law firms have librarians on staff to manage all the legal materials. While most legal material is now online, librarians can still help researchers and lawyers find what they need. In most cases, you must get an MLS degree (Master’s of Library Science) degree, which is a two-year degree option. It must be accredited by the ALA.
You should also familiarize yourself with LexisNexis and Westlaw, two online databases primarily used by lawyers. You may try to get a job as a librarian while going to school to help gain experience. Once you have the education necessary and start looking for work, legal headhunters in Irving can put you on the fast track of finding a new career.