Careers in the Legal Profession: Overview of Career Options Across the Country

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According to data from the American Bar Association (ABA), between 2008 and 2018, the number of lawyers in the United States has increased by 15 percent. The legal industry has not only seen growth in practicing lawyers, but it has also seen growth in its need for lawyers who specialize in a specific area of law. Some specialized practice areas that have been trending and seeing growth in the past few years include, but are not limited to, the healthcare sector, immigration law, family law, environmental law, and the employment sector. Additionally, advancements in technology have led to the growth of the electronic discovery industry, known as e-discovery.

In addition to attorneys who practice in specific areas of law, the various sectors of the legal industry also require professionals in other positions to support litigation-related services. Someone interested in working as a professional in the legal industry has many career options.

Pursuing a Position in the Legal Industry

Most people who want to be a legal professional choose to be a lawyer, also known as an attorney. The position of the lawyer continues to grow as one of the most popularly sought and most known of legal professions. In the courtroom, a lawyer must provide legal advice and representation to the plaintiff or the defendant and advocate for their client.

To become a lawyer, one must earn a bachelor’s degree. Some people choose pre-law and criminal justice majors to take courses about the legal and correctional systems and law enforcement. Still, law schools admit students with undergraduate degrees in various fields. Aspiring lawyers must pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), earn their Juris Doctor (J.D.), and pass the bar examinations and prove they are competent to be admitted to the bars of their jurisdictions.

Lawyers should be committed professionals who research and stay knowledgeable of federal, state, and local laws. For example, attorneys who practice in the family law and divorce sector in Oregon, such as those at Johnson & Taylor LLC, should learn the basics of child custody statutes in Oregon, and stay up to date on any changes made to these statutes.

Individuals who may not want to be lawyers should consider being a legal assistant, also called a paralegal. Paralegals assist lawyers by conducting research and investigations on the facts in legal cases. These professionals prepare and organize legal documents. They can help manage clients, but they cannot advise or represent a plaintiff or defendant in court. People may also consider being a law librarian for a law firm. Law librarians manage law books and periodical collections.

Other professionals who are necessary to the operations of law firms and courtrooms include E-discovery professionals, legal nurse consultants, journalists, and court reporters. E-discovery professionals are responsible for using technology to organize, process, and store pieces of evidence and legal documents about lawsuits in electronic form. Legal nurse consultants provide advice about medical issues of the law to attorneys. Individuals with legal writing and research experience, especially in specific sectors of the legal field, should consider becoming journalists.

Court reporters are especially crucial to the operations of a courtroom. They are responsible for keeping records during law proceedings and transcribing testimonies and statements given in court. Court reporters in Fort Lauderdale with Brickell Key Court Reporting, for example, provide real-time written reports and transcription, as well as electronic transcripts, and rough drafts of transcripts as requested by clients. Using internet-enabled text and video streaming, these court reporters can perform their duties without being in the same room as participants, and they can deliver electronic transcript files via email without delay.

Legal professionals of all kinds play essential roles in law firms, courtrooms, legal disputes, and trials. People interested in the law and legal matters should consider all the career paths the legal field has to offer when planning out their education and professional future.

Nola Blanton researches, organizes, and delivers high-level and impactful strategic content that helps OI's readers understand, discuss, and prepare for emerging trends in business and marketing.

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