Legal careers span the full range of education requirements. Attorneys have the most specialized training, paralegal positions often require some, and legal secretaries or assistants need only have a general education, preferably with some legal experience.
Legal Studies for a Career as an Attorney
A career as a lawyer requires intensive legal studies. Competition is intense for admission to most law schools, so you’ll have to work hard and be committed from the outset. You’ll need to complete a 4-year college degree, then three years in law school and a written bar exam before you’ll qualify.
The hard work will be well rewarded in terms of job opportunities and salary. Lawyers are involved in so many areas of our lives. Almost any private or business transaction that takes place has some basis in law. Lawyers act as advisors or advocates in criminal procedures, in civil litigation, and in contractual matters, including the transfer of real estate. They also act as general advisors to large businesses, banks, schools, hospitals and the government. Many lawyers work in private practice.
The central role that lawyers play in our society ensures that demand for lawyers will continue. Competition is strong, however – it’s important to plan your legal studies carefully. Geographical mobility can also be an asset, especially In the early years of your legal career when gaining a wide range of experience is most important.
Legal Studies for Other Legal Careers
If the education commitment required for a career as a lawyer is a bit too daunting, consider pursuing paralegal training or entering the workforce as a legal secretary. Career prospects are similarly strong in those areas, and the road there much less daunting.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that legal secretaries and administrative assistants held about 4.1 million jobs in 2002, ranking them among the largest occupations in the US economy. Jobs for Paralegals are also projected to grow faster than average, as law offices try to reduce costs by assigning them tasks formerly carried out by lawyers. If you are interested in the law but not in the time and expense of law school, a paralegal or legal secretary job might be the best course.