The practice of Law is essential to the democracy of the United States of America. It is rooted in the country’s proud history and is an integral part of maintaining the rule of law within the territorial bounds of the nation. Law, in the U.S., is a professional academic field and is equivalent to a graduate degree. Law schools in the country require applicants to hold a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent from an accredited college or university.
Law schools in the United States grant Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree that full-time students typically finish in three years. Part-time students can complete law school in four years. Legal education in the country is known to be distinctly different from the rest of the world. All law schools in the country follow the Socratic method, which remains to be central to modern law teaching. Through this method, Law students are trained to analyze and present their arguments to various legal issues by using debate as to the main form of academic discussions. It is an active learning process that professors To this day, Law professors consider the method to be the best tool in preparing skilled, critical, and ethical legal professionals.
The American Bar Association (ABA) is the voluntary association of both lawyers and students that oversees the legal profession across jurisdictions. After years of studying Law, J.D. degree holders need to take and pass the Bar exam to become full-fledged lawyers and practice Law.
Law As a Degree
A Law degree is often called a gateway to many career opportunities, not only in the legal field but also beyond the legal profession. Studying Law gives you the skills to become an attorney or build a career beyond lawyering. You can venture into politics, economics, business, education, or diplomacy. Yes, studying and finishing the degree comes with numerous rewards, but it is a complicated process. The coursework is intimidating, and the hours spent reading and preparing for class can be solitary. Knowing all these, it is crucial that you weigh whether Law school is the right choice for you. Below is an overview of the classes you will be taking in the four years pursuing a career in law.
During your first year, you will take the required set of courses, including Legal Writing, Statutory Construction, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Contracts, and Torts, among others. Additional degree requirements may vary from one Law school to another. Some schools add mandatory experiential courses to test student’s ability to prepare legal documents, and research.
As a second-year student, you will focus on various activities which will expose you to the day-to-day court setting. You will take Law Review, participate in Moot Court, court visits, and other extra-curricular activities that will allow you to practice. It is vital that you gather practical experience as you will be looking into internships as you move towards your third year. These internships will most likely lead you to a full-time job after graduation.
Lastly, during your third year in Law school, you are given more freedom to choose elective courses. You may select from International Law, Antitrust Law, Intellectual Property Law, or Immigration Law. It is the final year for full-time students and is often spent on finding employment. Most importantly, your third year will center on reviewing for the Bar examination.
Before you can engage in the legal profession and solicit clients, you need to be admitted to the Bar. The Bar exam is the definitive test to determine whether you are qualified to practice law in a specific jurisdiction. However, you may be required to take the examination set for that state before you can practice law. Failing to comply with these leads to an unauthorized practice of law, which is illegal and is punishable under the Rules of Court.
Types Of Law Degrees
It is worth noting that Juris Doctor (J.D.), though the basic law curriculum, is not the only law degree offered in the United States. It is essential that you understand the required skill set in your career choice. A J.D. degree will prepare you for the Bar and will give you the necessary academic and practical knowledge to pass the exam. Once you seek career advancements, other law degrees will provide you with the legal knowledge, skills, and expertise that will prove useful in any field. The first step in exploring the different law degrees is having an overview of the curricula, admissions requirements, and outcomes. These factors will aid you in deciding what type of law degree best fits your objectives.
Legal Certificate Programs
Legal Certificate Programs allow students to earn certification featuring courses that are general and offering basic legal knowledge, or more specific courses that explore in an area of interest.
Juris Doctor (J.D.)
The fundamental law degree, Juris Doctor, is the primary requirement and the first step in pursuing a career as a practicing lawyer. It is the ABA that determines and sets the curriculum for all law schools in the country. A J.D. degree from any of the ABA-accredited law school ensures that the program focuses on all aspects of U.S. law. This includes procedural law – criminal and civil procedure, preparing them for the tedious legal processes in litigation. Emphasizing on the tools and strategies useful in the courtroom is an effective technique in producing seasoned lawyers. Passing the Bar exam is the main goal in law school. Failing to pass the exam means you cannot practice the law.
To enroll in a J.D. degree program, you must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year academic institution. Along with the application, submit your LSAT or GRE scores. It is customary for law schools to require letters of recommendation and a personal statement, and hold a personal interview.
Master of Laws (LLM)
Master of Laws (LLM) is specially designed for legal professionals who hold a law degree. The master’s degree is the avenue by which lawyers or legal professionals specialize in a particular area of law. LLM students have the opportunity to develop their expertise in the legal subject that want to focus on. Among the top specialties are Tax Law, Intellectual Property, Copyright Law, Environmental Law, and Human Rights Law. The LLM curriculum allows students to handpick their electives covering advanced legal courses.
To secure admission to the Masters of Law program, you must have earned a J.D. degree from an ABA-accredited institution. You need to submit an updated résumé, personal statement, and the necessary number of letters of recommendation. An interview is always expected for admission to any graduate program. When you choose to become a full-time student, you can finish the degree in a year. Part-time students, on the other hand, takes two years to complete the degree.
Master of Legal Studies (MLS) or Master of Science in Law (MSL)
Master of Legal Studies (MLS) or Master of Science in Law (MSL) is a graduate law degree designed for the non-practicing law profession. This degree best fits nonlawyers who seek to have an in-depth understanding of legal concepts and procedures. Because of the variety of legal topics included in the curriculum, MLS/MSL degree holders are assured to hold advanced positions in their field. Courses may cover areas in regulatory compliance, contracts, administrative law, negotiation theory, and legal writing. It is a 16 to a 28-month graduate program that will provide students with strong foundational knowledge in every aspect of law.
Master of Dispute Resolution (MDR)
Dispute resolution remains as a convenient legal tool in conflict resolution. The Master of Dispute Resolution (MDR) degree is a practical graduate degree program for legal professionals. It provides valuable negotiation, mediation, and arbitration knowledge and skills in conflict management. MDR curriculum follows the 16 to 28 months coursework, focusing on key strategies in dispute resolution. After completing the program, you will come to learn that amicable settlement is proven effective in resolving conflicts. Additionally, you will gain proficiency in negotiating complex transactions. Alternative dispute resolution does not only facilitate fair compromise, but it also ensures that every party’s interest is taken into consideration.
MDR is an ideal graduate degree for working professionals who are in business management or leadership roles. Conflict resolution is valuable in the workplace. Position yourself at an advantage by earning the degree. Since this is a non-J.D. degree, a bachelor’s degree will suffice. Additional requirements will depend on your school of choice.
Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD)
Considered the highest and the terminal degree in Law, the Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) is designed for legal professionals who are investing in advanced legal education. SJD students must have completed both their J.D. and LLM degrees to be admitted to the program. The curriculum goes against traditional law classes, as it requires students to conduct legal research. They are encouraged to attend symposia and have one-on-one consultations with professors. Under the program, SJD candidates will further their legal expertise to qualify as a professor of a scholar of Law. The degree will make you an Amicus Curiae, or “Friend of the Court,” providing your expertise when the Court needs advice. Completion typically takes two years for full-time students.
Under the extensive areas of law, there are various areas wherein you can choose to specialize on. This will answer the dreaded question of what type of law do you wish to practice after you finish your degree and pass the Bar. It is crucial to have an overview of each of the specialty areas in Law.
Here are the major areas of Law as a degree:
Admiralty or Maritime Law
Admiralty or Maritime Law regulates all economic transactions, including property disputes involving both land-based and marine trading. This area of Law consists of statutes, case law, and jurisprudence centered on disputes involving navigable waters. Hence, all issues and factual scenarios that are maritime will fall under Maritime law. Maritime jurisdiction is an important part of state sovereignty. Therefore, our founding fathers formulated laws governing jurisdictional water lines. This includes waters that are utilized for interstate and foreign business and commerce.
Specializing in Maritime Law will expose you to cases such as commercial accidents resulting from perils of the sea and perils of the ship. Individuals seeking damages from injuries or hazardous material spill may engage the legal services of an attorney who specialized in the area. According to The Maritime Law Association of the United States, you can also apply your expertise in cases of piracy in national or international waters as it is considered a crime against humanity. Jurisdictional limitations do not apply.
United States Bankruptcy Law aims to protect individuals and organizations’ property rights when they have no sufficient assets to pay their debts. It works by giving insolvent debtors a fresh start by liquidating what is left of their assets to satisfy the debt. They are given an option to create a repayment plan that is reasonable and consistent with Federal and State laws. An individual or an organization may file for bankruptcy and hire a seasoned Bankruptcy Lawyer from the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys and comply with the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
Business or Corporate Law
Corporate Law deals with the formation, operation, administration, dissolution, and all other legal aspects of businesses and corporations. This branch of law is closely linked to commercial and contract law that governs the inception of corporations. Since a corporation takes the nature of an artificial or juridical personality, it needs legal representation through Corporate Lawyers. Generally, these attorneys, who are members of the Association of Corporate Counsel, take charge of mergers, acquisitions, internal reorganization, and intra-corporate disputes. An in-house counsel takes full responsibility for all legal matters concerning the corporation.
Civil Rights Law
Civil Rights Law is rooted in the plight to protect the civil liberties of both individual and organizations. These rights are injected in the legal system to ensure that people enjoy equal protection and equal rights without prejudice to any divisive factors. Civil Rights Lawyers, who are members of the Civil Rights Trial Lawyers Association, safeguard the people from overly intrusive conduct of the government and other agencies. Since government actors are precluded from making arbitrary actions, civil rights law affords due process to every person. Lawyers practicing in the field take discrimination cases, unfair practices, and other cases involving torts and damages.
Criminal Law is the system of laws and legal rules that aims to maintain public safety by criminalizing illegal acts sanctioned under the penal code. The Criminal Code is to safeguard the public by deterring wrongful acts which violate life, liberty, and property. Individuals who have committed unlawful conduct face incarceration, payment of civil damages, and other penalties. American criminal justice system is a complex and adversarial set of legal maxims. Specific crimes require particular expertise to defend and liberate the innocent and punish the guilty.
Prosecutors and District Attorneys represent the state and ensure that justice is served. On the other hand, Criminal Defense Lawyers represent the accused. Both of these legal professionals make sure that the case is handled fairly, and justice is approximated in favor of the victim.
Entertainment Law is a subset of Intellectual Property Law that centers on the rights and royalties involved in performing arts. As detailed by the International Association of Entertainment Lawyers, this branch of Law covers all forms of media, including motion pictures, music, television, cinema, and athletics. Entertainment Lawyers dominate the legal field as information technology changed the landscape of media consumption. As a specialty area, lawyers who focus on entertainment law must keep abreast of the latest rules and regulations in the entertainment field.
Environmental Law combines the salient features of the state, federal, and international laws about the environment. Members of the National Association of Environment Law Societies aim to protect and preserve our natural resources from abusive practices. This objective is in line with the concept of intergenerational responsibility, giving importance to the welfare of future generations. Environmental laws regulate acts such as pollution, global warming, land disputes, natural resources management, and littoral use. Legal professionals who specialize in environmental law represent non-profit, non-government organizations that forward traditional changes in the practice of international law.
It is in the interest of the state to preserve the sanctity of marriage and the family. Family Law is a body of laws, statutes, and case precedents that govern the legal relationship and responsibilities about domestic relations. Legal matters between individuals within the family can be futile. Cases that fall under area include divorce, adoption, legitimacy, child abuse, civil unions, domestic partnerships, and marriage. Family law cases typically call for the services of a Family Lawyer.
Healthcare is central to every functioning society. Health Care Law is federal and state legislation involving the United States health care system and delivery. It covers all areas of healthcare, including mental health, health insurance, patient protection, health reform, and emergency health care. Most importantly, it ensures that every citizen has access to affordable, quality health care. Specialists in Health Care Law oversee every step of health care policy design and implementation.
Immigration has become a highly sensitive issue in the United States. With the call to protect US citizens from illegal immigrants, Immigration Law has become litigious in recent years. As an area of law, it governs immigration policy, detailing the legal means and steps to acquire lawful residency. Immigration Lawyers assist their clients at all stages of immigration and naturalization based on the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). This does not only grant lawful entry to persons seeking naturalization; most importantly, it protects American sovereignty.
Intellectual Property Law
Intellectual Property Law involves an extensive federal and state legislation that protects all kinds of intellectual creation. This includes original works, including writing, music, drawings, paintings, photography, and film. Intellectual Property Laws protect the rights of writers, inventors, and businesses from the moment of creation, or upon the requisite application. Legal professionals in the field of Intellectual Property Lawyers often take an area of expertise – trademark law, copyright law, or patent law. In the age of digital reproduction, Intellectual Property Lawyers are very much in demand, according to the American Intellectual Property Law Association.
International Law is a proud product of years of international dispute resolution and compromise agreements. It sets the standards of international conduct between state actors and various international organizations. International Law is composed of two branches – Public International Law and Private International Law. Public International Law pertains to the affairs and dealing involving sovereign nations. While Private International Law, a part of Civil Law, governs the legal disputes involving a private individual who crosses international boundaries.
The successful practice of International Law requires an extensive background on comparative law. International law is an interdisciplinary field that touches various aspects of common law and civil law systems across sovereign states. You can find an overview of the subject matter in the American Society of International Law.
Labor Law is social legislation that aims to protect both the laborers and the capital. It provides an avenue where social justice can be approximated through the establishment of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Workers and employees are protected from the arbitrary actions of their employers. This includes matters involving wage and compensation, discrimination in the basis of sex, age, gender, disability or race, and harassment. Attorneys who specialize in Labor Law ensure that abusive acts of employers are checked by proper representation. They represent individuals, unions, regulatory agencies under the government, and even the employer. Employers can also fall victim to labor disputes as employees may also commit arbitrary actions against their employers. Justice is afforded to both sides, as it is sworn duty of every lawyer.
To learn more about State Labor Laws, you can visit the U.S. Department of Labor website.
Real Estate Law
Property law is a central subject in the U.S. legal system. The Real Estate Law in the country involves ownership of land, as well as construction permanently attached to it. It encompasses construction, property, development, and litigation, as well as rights accorded to tenants and landlords. Real Estate Attorneys often find employment in both residential and commercial transactions. They review contracts, planning, and government permits necessary for real estate development and ownership.
Tax Law is a dreaded subject in Law school but is a dynamic field of specialty in the legal profession. The field deals with both domestic and international transactions that require the expertise of Taxation Lawyers. Tax legislation is often changing due to the various factors that affect local, state, and federal tax laws. Due to the complexities of fiscal policy, tax law needs to adapt to these changes. Taxation law experts thrive in this environment and engage in continuous education to acquire relevant knowledge and skills in taxation. Among the primary responsibilities of a Taxation, Lawyer is ensuring the legalities of economic transactions, while reducing financial liabilities. Learn more about U.S. Taxation in the link provided.
Online vs. Brick and Mortar Law Degrees
Studies reveal that a significant number of graduate students are millennials. Millennials are those belonging to a specific age cohort and those who are born between the years 1982 and 2002. This demographic shift will continue to persist every year, as they maintain to be the nation’s most educated generation. The millennial generation is mostly college-educated, landing a job right after graduation. But despite the job security, a college education brings, a graduate degree promises an even higher economic payoff.
Earning a master’s degree, a doctorate or a law degree will bring in more profitability and satisfaction in one’s career choice. With the increased popularity of online education, a graduate degree is easily within anybody’s reach. A Law degree is no exception to this technological advancement. Being so career-minded, college graduates seek to earn a Law degree online. Aside from the convenience and flexibility, it is significantly cheaper than attending traditional law schools.
However, you must take the necessary precaution when pursuing an online law degree. Here are a few reasons why:
As of this writing, no law school has been granted accreditation by the American Bar Association (ABA). In the United States, no law school that offers a fully online J.D. degree have passed the Standard 306: Distance Education set by the Department of Education and the ABA. Earning your J.D. degree via distance learning will limit your ability to practice your law in various states. Some online law schools may allow you to take the California Bar Examination. If you are a graduate of Concord Law School or Abraham Lincoln University School of Law, you are eligible to take the Bar exam in limited jurisdiction.
As compared to brick-and-mortar legal education, you are assured that the curriculum follows the standards set by ABA. An ABA-accredited J.D. degree program will build your credibility and open your doors to many opportunities. Earning the degree from a traditional setting and with ABA accreditation will prepare you to surpass the Bar examinations. Legal education ensures that every law graduate in the United States meets or exceeds the expectations of the legal profession.
No In-Person Interaction
To be a competent legal professional, you need to be able to master the art of argumentation. As mentioned earlier, law schools in the U.S. follow the Socratic Method, which puts debate at the center of academic interaction and discussion. This is not supported in an online law degree. Coursework is handed out per week, and students are free to complete the necessary assignments depending on their availability.
Whereas in a classroom setting, law students are trained to respond to the oral debate, which is a testament to their wit and preparedness. During law school, being able to interact with diverse groups of individuals will improve your interpersonal skills and ability to communicate with the layman. You will find yourself building long-term relationships with some of the most conscientious people. Through this experience, you will learn that there is pleasure in interacting with people coming from all walks of life.
No Clear Career Prospects
Since online law degrees are not ABA-accredited, there are no bright career prospects after graduation. According to Data USA, the projected job for growth for lawyers, & judges, magistrates, & other judicial workers 8.01% within the10-year period. With this, career prospects for online law degree holders are limited based on credentials due to the non-ABA law degree.
Financing Your Legal Education
Attending Law school is a serious commitment. It requires a substantial financial risk as you invest for tuition fees, books, lodging, and travel. Fortunately, there are funding options and financial assistance programs to help you pay for your legal education.
Scholarships and Grants
As a testament to the country’s commitment to providing an accessible and affordable educational system, scholarships and grants are available to all students at every academic level. For the lack of a better term, these are “free money” handed by the Federal or State government, and non-government organizations to fund the law education of deserving students. These are awarded based on the need or merit of a student, or both. It does not need to be repaid.
Private law schools award scholarships and grants. Independent organizations also confer scholarships. These include organizations such as local bar associations, fraternities and sororities, social clubs and groups, religious organizations, and business conglomerates. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs awards a special scholarship for students seeking to pursue a law degree.
Bear in mind that the availability of these financial aids is limited. It is vital that you do your part by researching the best option and turning to your school admission and financial aid office. The mostly merit-based application for these types of assistance is highly competitive. Show that you are academically qualified by presenting proof of your academic performance. Shortly after admission, you can expect an award merit money.
Some law schools award financial aids on need-based condition. Before you process your requirements, you must confirm with your las school what materials are necessary to qualify for the grant. Of course, there is always an added assurance when you send your application early.
Federal loans are either Direct Subsidized Loans, Unsubsidized Direct Loans, Direct Plus Loans, and Direct Consolidation Loans. These programs are under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program. When you avail of any of the programs, the U.S. Department of Education becomes your creditor.
At least half-time at a participating law school will make you eligible to apply. While Direct Subsidized Loans is only available to undergraduate students, the Unsubsidized Direct Loans are open to both undergraduate and graduate students. In applying for Unsubsidized Direct Loans, applicants need not show proof of financial need. To apply, you must first complete and submit a completed Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. You law school will aid in determining the amount of grant, or your financial aid package.
Direct Unsubsidized Loan
The Federal government grants law students to borrow up to a total of $20,500 under the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan program. Students can borrow the same amount per academic year from the U.S. Department of Education. As takes the nature of a loan, it will start accruing a simple interest the moment the grant is disbursed. It remains as such during the entirety of your attendance in law school.
You will start paying your loan six months after your graduation. The six-month grace period may be availed and with a flexible repayment plan. When finances become tough after the grace period, the repayment plan will be adjusted based on your household income. Also, you can avail of the payment relief or forbearance. Most importantly, the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan is qualified to be included in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.
Direct Grad PLUS
The Direct Grad PLUS are loans granted to graduate or professional students designed to pay for expenses not covered by financial aid. Law students with no standing adverse credit are eligible to borrow from the program. However, if you have adverse credit, you may be given preference when you apply with an endorse or co-debtor. Endorser of the applicants must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, and with no adverse credit of their own.
The loan amount awarded to successful applicants is equivalent to the school’s Cost of Attendance (COA). However, grants from other financial aid will be deducted from the total amount of the Direct Grad PLUS award. The interest follows the same terms as that of the Direct Unsubsidized Loan. The flexible repayment plan is available to students who availed of the loan. While you are still enrolled in school, repayment is deferred.
Law Career Pathways, Information, and Outlook
Legal professionals are at the forefront of justice and equity in the country. They provide advice, represent individuals, businesses, organizations, and government agencies from the foul image of injustice. Lawyers aid their clients to resolve legal issues and disputes that may arise in any situation. As a career, it serves as a multi-entry opportunity to extensive career choices. Today, there are 974,000 lawyers, & judges, magistrates, & other judicial workers that make up the judicial system of the United States. With an 8.01% and a national average of 7.4% estimated job growth, more legal professionals are expected to join the workforce. Demand for legal services will continue to expand as various state actors venture into legally binding transactions.
Alongside the projected job growth, employment in the field will be highly competitive because of the rising number of students completing their legal education each year. In fact, according to the ABA’s National Population Survey, there are a total of 1,338,678 active lawyers in 2018. However, various Law specialty areas are worth exploring. Among the top specialization is Tax Law, Corporate Law, Intellectual Property Law, Securities Law, and Criminal Law. In 2018, the annual average salary of a Lawyer was estimated to be $120,910, with an average billable hour of $58.13.
To be an attorney or a legal professional, you must prepare to invest an entire seven years of full-time study
10 Common Law Occupations
Legal education is a valuable investment. After graduating from law school, various career opportunities are available to J.D. degree holders. The list contains the ten most common law occupations for J.D. graduates and legal professionals.
Lawyers, also referred to as Attorney or Counselor, are legal professionals who mainly advocate for their client’s cause and rights. They represent individuals, corporations, and even government agencies on different legal issues. Through negotiation, lawyers advise their clients to reach an amicable settlement to avoid litigation. Lawyers who represent the accused are called defense lawyers. Law firms employ the services of lawyers to oversee the legal concerns of various clients.
Becoming a lawyer typically takes seven years of full-time study beginning from high school. Under the current ABA mandate, aspiring lawyers need to complete a Juris Doctor degree from an ABA-accredited law school. Law schools in the U.S. require a particular LSAT score to be admitted. While in Law school, students may choose to specialize in an area of choice. Upon completing three to four years of law school, prospective lawyers need to pass the Bar exam. You can begin your legal practice once you get admitted to the Bar, and earn $120,910 per year.
Corporate lawyers primarily ensure that every corporate transaction is done legally and within the bounds of the corporation’s by-laws. They stand as corporate counsel on various legal and technical issues. Corporate lawyers represent the company in proceedings which require legal knowledge and expertise. When the corporation is exposed to legal disputes, they gather and analyze the evidence presented to come up with a strong defense.
To succeed in corporate law, you need to specialize in at least one of the following areas: Tax Law, Contract Law, Accounting Law, and Securities Law. It is best that you choose to concentrate on an area that emphasizes corporate law. You can earn $65,323 up to $169,604 a year when you pursue a career in the field.
Patent Lawyers work in companies and are tasked to assess and analyze the patentability of various products or inventions. They also ensure that all standard protocols are followed to protect the products against infringements. Importantly, they guide and advise their clients who may be an individual inventor or a corporation during the entire process of their patent application. It is essential that they are apprised with the existing patents to avoid litigation in infringement cases. Patent lawyers value research as a means of providing clients with clear and indisputable claim to their inventions.
As patent lawyers, you must be highly trained in critical aspects of intellectual property rights. In 2018, data showed that the average yearly salary for the position is $134,729. Some employers require the place to be filled by a licensed attorney who has a background in the sciences. Knowledge in engineering or biology may set you apart from the rest of the employment pool. A specialization in Intellectual Property Law may be a requirement in some industries.
Criminal Law is unforgiving. It is made for lawyers with a strong sense of justice pursue a career as Criminal Lawyers or Defense Counsel. They defend individuals, organizations, corporations, and businesses in the criminal charges filed against them in various court jurisdictions. Criminal lawyers ensure that their clients get their day in court. They investigate the case by conducting interviews, research, depositions, and gather evidence in favor of the client. Constructing a strong defense based on proof beyond a reasonable doubt is the goal of every criminal lawyer.
In some cases, they negotiate a plea deal with the plaintiff or the complainant. This is a means of allowing the defendant to enter a guilty plea to a lesser offense. Plea bargaining is sanctioned by law and is encouraged to unclog the court dockets. Criminal Law requires expertise and years of experience. You need strong written and oral advocacy skills when arguing in front of a judge and a jury. Once you persuade the judge and the jury to enter a not guilty verdict or acquittal, you win your client’s case. This will lead you to an annual income of $114,290.
Taxation Law is a complicated subject, so organizations and corporations or individuals secure the services of a Tax Lawyer. Lawyers who specialize in taxation act as a representative of their clients in dealing with various tax agencies and comply with federal, state, and local rules in filing tax returns or tax legislation. Tax lawyers remain informed of the changes in taxation law, which may affect their client’s business or current economic standing. Having a technical and analytical skill set, such as strong mathematical and accounting skills will prime you for the specialization. Practicing tax law is not easy, so the job promises a steady increase in annual earnings and benefits. Recent data shows that a Tax Lawyer can earn $100,055 per year.
Real Estate Lawyer
Real Estate Lawyers assist their clients in various dealings within the market, both commercial and residential real estate. Real estate transactions involve several complex legal documents, which requires the expertise of real estate lawyers. Lawyers in the business oversee and review contracts and other relevant documents. They oversee issues that may require the application of legal knowledge. These may include zoning, permits, property development concerns, questions with tenants, and neighbors. More importantly, real estate lawyers make sure that all legal documents comply with the Real Estate Standards Organization or RESO mandates.
To be a successful real estate lawyer, you must be keen and meticulous on every detail, especially in drafting contracts. Real estate lawyers are not limited to office works as they also represent their clients in court. Earning a specialization in Property Law will allow you to develop your background leading to an annual salary of $82,868 or up to $166,811 per year.
Family Law Attorney
Family law is a broad and complex field. It is also referred to as Matrimonial Law or the Law of Domestic Relations in the United States. The need for legal interventions in marital affairs often entails disputes among spouses or family members. Family Law Attorneys play an essential role in settling custody arrangements, marriage arrangements or prenuptial agreements, domestic abuse, or divorce. Other parts of family law also include requirements for marriage, legally adopting a child and marital property relations. You can specialize in family law and practice as a Family Law Attorney and develop your potential in the field. An annual salary for a seasoned family law attorney may earn up to $123,500.
Personal Injury Lawyer
Damage caused by one to another through fault or negligence entitles the injured to receive compensation. In cases of physical or psychological harm suffered by a client, Personal Injury Lawyers make sure to represent their client’s claim for damages. Frequently, the injured party requires the legal assistance of a lawyer who specializes in the field of torts as they are incapable of forwarding their claim. This field of law falls under Tort Law or Torts and is a part of Civil Law. Personal injury lawyers interview both parties, evaluate the case, and develop case-specific strategies to secure their client’s claim. Top earners in torts work for big law firms, while those who are employed in non-profit organizations receive a lesser salary. The average annual salary earned by a personal injury lawyer is $78,053 and could go up to $151,359.
Civil Rights Lawyer
Civil Rights Lawyers ensure that the American people continue to enjoy the freedoms they are entitled to. They defend civil rights, as well as the fundamental liberties of the public. A typical civil rights case requires civil rights lawyers to protect their client who is facing discrimination, displacement, or any form of abuse — a more sensitive area of practice in cases brought against law enforcement.
Civil rights law demand a strong sense of advocacy and passion for truth and justice. For civil rights lawyers to thrive in the area, you must specialize in a particular area where you are most passionate about. This area of specialty is not among the top-paying careers in law, but it assures an annual salary of $88,057.
Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Healthcare is an exciting area in both medical and legal terms. Having the proper legal knowledge and licensure, as well as the passion for healthcare is the first step into a specialty in medical law. Medical Malpractice Lawyers function as consultants for health care professionals and medical institutions in building case theories. They especially become useful in malpractice lawsuits brought against any of the health care professional employed in the medical field.
As a field of legal practice, medical law is a combination of intricate areas of personal injury, medical malpractice, and health care law. Medical lawyers work in hospitals or medical clinics, while others defend victims of medical malpractice. Having the appropriate specialization will secure your position in the field and obtain an $86,520 annual salary.
30 Highest Paying Law Careers
In recent years, the demand for legal services in the United States is in the rise. Here are the Top 30 Highest paid law/legal careers.
Chief Legal Officer
Chief Legal Officers are general counsels that lead the legal department for companies. As principal lawyers, they are responsible for overseeing every legal aspect of a business or law firm. They take the lead role in every legal battle that the corporation may face. Every part of all statutory provisions goes through them to ensure that everything aligns with the mission of the company. Chief legal officers do not only protect the image of the institution they represent, but they also put primacy on ensuring the judicial order in each case.
Most importantly, they provide strategic guidance and consultation to the members of the upper management on legal issues. To qualify as a chief legal officer, you must have a law degree and passed the bar examinations. As a prerequisite, you must specialize in Corporate Law.
Chief Legal Officer salary: $201,285
Law Firm Partner
A Law Firm Partner takes the lead role in facilitating everyday affairs in the law firm. Partners are typically joint owners of the firm and mainly perform administrative and corporate functions. They are directly involved in supervising the firm’s legal, organizational, technical, and logistics teams. Also, they ensure that the law office remains compliant with state, federal, and local regulations. These highly-skilled and intuitive legal professionals design and implement policies to improve productivity and compliance. To become a law firm partner, you must need a law degree from an accredited law school. You must also pass the bar examinations of the state of employment. Years of experience as a lawyer will put you an advantage when securing a job in any law firm.
Law Firm Partner salary: $185,138
Corporate Lawyers are those engaged in legal processes related to the formation, operation, and governance of a corporation or corporation-like entity such as a limited liability company (LLC), partnership, or alliance. Their duties include guiding their client in establishing a new corporation. They make sure that this new corporation and even the current corporation adhere to all relevant federal, state, and local regulations. Moreover, they are also responsible for providing advice and planning related to corporate mergers, acquisitions, and other large-scale strategic deals. To begin a career as a corporate lawyer, you must have a juris doctor degree and membership in a state bar (typically the state in which the corporation operates). Experience up to ten years in handling cases involving corporate law is required.
Corporate Lawyer salary: $177,799
Law School Professor
Law Professors are legal professionals who teach in the academy. They perform advisory roles and conduct lectures in some of the ABA-accredited law schools in the country and beyond. The work of law professors combines research-based coursework, writing, and teaching. Proper instructions encourage critical thinking among students while developing their persuasive temperament in delivering arguments. They may issue and grade homework, assign reading, and deliver presentations to the class. Law school professors are lawyers licensed to practice law within the state where they teach. To be a law professor, a doctorate in Law is required. To enter academia, you must be a seasoned legal professional or at least have experience within the educational system.
Law School Professor salary: $135,721
Judges, Magistrate Judge, Magistrate
Judges, Magistrates Judges, and Magistrates preside over court proceedings in federal, state, and local courts. Judges are magistrates that work with criminal and corporate law. Magistrates, on the other hand, preside over cases involving municipal law, pre-trial hearings, small claims cases, and misdemeanor trials. They deal with different circumstances, but they have similar duties. Primarily, they evaluate arguments and motions by opposing parties to see whether or not the case should proceed to trial. Because they make legal decisions based on the evidence presented, they must study case precedents, be aware of changes in these precedents, review facts related to the case on hand and review other legal documents brought before them. Judges, magistrates judges, and magistrates decide cases by taking into account the facts of the case and the type of law that is relevant to it.
The position must be filled by practicing lawyers who either prosecute or defend a case. Depending on the jurisdiction, they are either appointed or elected to the position by popular vote. Judges who want a job in higher courts are either elected or appointed by governors or presidents.
Judges and magistrates salary: $133,920
A Patent Lawyer is responsible for the company’s existing patents as well as its patent applications. They make sure that they adhere to standard protocols and patents are defended against infringements. Patent lawyers are tasked to analyze all current company products to ensure that they do not infringe upon existing patents. They remain relevant as marketability of innovative products remains in the rise, especially in the technology-driven industries. For one to be a patent lawyer, you must have a law degree and must have passed the bar examinations in the state where the company is located. Companies look for lawyers that are educated in specific industries like engineering or technology related fields. Among the top earners in the area have prior experience in intellectual property law or has an academic background in the sciences.
Patent Attorney salary: $130,00
A Senior Attorney is the person who manages and supervises a team of lawyers. He is may either be a partner in a firm or a high-level specialist retained by a law firm of sizable employees. The senior attorney directs the preparations of the team in representing a client. They also represent the team when meeting with the legal representatives from the adversarial side of a case. In court, the senior attorney takes the lead in presenting his or her team’s information and arguments. You must possess a law degree from an accredited university law school. Additionally, you must be a member in good standing of the bar association or accrediting organization with jurisdiction in the area.
Senior Attorney salary: $127, 647
Lawyers are legal professionals who have been admitted to the bar and are therefore licensed to practice law. They apply their knowledge of the law in specific situations and advise their clients regarding their legal rights and responsibilities. Lawyers are welcome to specialize in various areas of law, such as contracts, human rights, international trade, and criminal law. To qualify as a lawyer, you must complete an undergraduate degree, and obtain a law degree. To pursue a legal practice, you must pass the bar examinations administered by the state where you choose to practice.
Lawyer salary: $120,910
Administrative Law Judges, Adjudicator, Hearing Officers
Administrative Law Judges, Adjudicator, Hearing Officers oversee legal procedures for local, state, and federal offices and courtrooms. They generally work for the government and are responsible for deciding claims for benefits that it offers. Their responsibilities may also include reviewing evidence, documentation, and determining rulings. In preparing for hearings and determining conclusions, they do legal research, analyze policies, laws, precedent, decisions, and regulations. Administrative law judge, adjudicator, or hearing officer typically have a master’s degree, and some have obtained a Ph.D. or M.D. You must also pass the U.S. Office of Personnel Management exam, professional orientation to qualify for employment in the field.
Administrative Law Judges, Adjudicator, Hearing Officers salary: $117,190
Intellectual Property Lawyer
Intellectual Property Lawyers are licensed legal professionals who deal with issues related to patents, trademarks, trade secrets, and copyrights. Popularly called as IP lawyers, they act as firm advocates for their client’s right and obligations when it comes to intellectual property. They value the intellectual creation of all forms and swear to protect and preserve any products under their care. To be an intellectual property lawyer, you must have completed your law degree as well as pass the state’s bar examination. To represent a client before the U.S. Patent Office, the attorney must give the Patent Bar Examination by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Intellectual Property lawyer salary: $100,553
Trial Lawyers are those that regularly represent a party in a trial. They argue for their client’s case and study the circumstances by examining all the necessary evidence. In addition to this, they also research laws and analyze relevant judicial decisions to strengthen their client’s case. All lawyers must be admitted to the American Bar Association to practice law. Passing the LSAT as well as the bar examinations is essential. Before an aspiring trial lawyer takes the bar examination, he or she must have earned a law degree from an accredited school. After that, a trial lawyer needs to figure out what bar examination they have to take. Majority of the states use the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE). Some states use the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE). States require trial lawyers to re-apply when practicing law in another state.
Trial lawyer salary: $99,424
Government Attorneys work within specialized areas of law. They represent the interest of local, state, or federal government bodies in legal proceedings. Moreover, they may be associated with those who assist in creating or enforcing legislation and regulations in a given jurisdiction. Government lawyers may also serve as aides who help craft legislation and regulations. To gain employment as a government attorney, standard qualifications are necessary. Most people in this position have prior work experience with the government or educational background in public policy.
Government Attorney salary: $87,872
Employment and Labor Lawyer
Employment and Labor Lawyers help clients with labor issues. This may include wages, pension, and benefits, unlawful termination, workplace safety and injury, family leave, unions, labor laws and regulations, sexual harassment, discrimination in the workplace. Specializing in Labor Law, they are equipped with the legal expertise to address any issue that may affect their client. They may represent the employer, the employee, or a group of employees, job applicants, unions, interest groups, and businesses. Among the possible actions is defending or filing a suit against other parties impinging on their rights. After getting a Bachelor’s degree, you must get a law degree and take the bar examinations. Once you pass the bar examinations and is licensed to practice law, you may proceed to specialize in Labor law.
Employment and Labor Lawyer salary: $86,416
Family Law Lawyer
A Family Law Lawyer is a professional hired to guide clients on custody, divorce, and adoption. They help clients achieve an optimal resolution through a settlement processor to represent them in court before a family court judge. Within Family Law, you can further specialize as a Divorce Lawyer, Domestic Abuse Lawyer, or Child Support Lawyer. To work as a family lawyer, you need to complete a bachelor’s degree, as well as three years of legal education. In addition to a J.D. degree, you must secure a state licensing before your legal practice.
Family Law Lawyer salary: $80,882
Criminal Defense Lawyer
Criminal Defense Lawyers represent their clients in court. They argue their client’s case in front of a judge, prosecutors, and jury. As defense lawyers, they emphasize the Constitutional right of the accused to be presumed innocent unless the contrary is proved. Criminal lawyers are willing to settle their case in and out of court to ensure a favorable result for their client. A criminal defense lawyer must hold a juris doctor degree and must have been admitted to the Bar. Usually, employers prefer those who graduated from an American Bar Association (ABA) accredited law school. Experience in criminal law is always given preference. While in law school, invest in internships or volunteer positions in public defenders or prosecutor’s office to make a good impression.
Criminal Defense Lawyer salary: $80,144
Mediators are practicing lawyers and are sometimes former or aspiring judges. They help resolve conflicts between disputing parties through negotiation and dialogue, which is done outside out of court. To lessen conflict, a private, confidential hearing which is less formal than a court trial. Mediators ensure that negotiation is neutral and unbiased; they act as a third party, not representing any side of the dispute. A mediator must be an attorney, a former or aspiring judge. Some states require that a mediator undertake a course in mediation and confidentiality agreement.
Mediator salary: $79,082
Litigation Support Supervisor
Litigation Support Supervisor generally provides day-to-day supervision and guidance to the litigation support staff. They manage and review litigation, as well as the support team members, processes, and policies involved in the litigation proceedings. Litigation support supervisor primarily oversees quality control and completion of all documents necessary for litigation. To get employment as a litigation support supervisor, you must have a bachelor’s degree in a related field. This is one of the few legal profession that does not require a law degree or admission to the Bar.
Litigation Support Supervisor salary: $77,114
Associate Attorneys are responsible for completing legal tasks, including drafting of contracts, filing cases into the court dockets, and apprising clients with the status of the case. They conduct legal research for cases, attend court proceedings, and provide accurate analysis and advice on future legal actions. When necessary, they complete and deliver essential documents to courts as needed. Like the other attorneys, they also give legal advice to their clients. As a crucial part of their role as lawyers, associate attorneys are expected to respect confidentiality agreements. A law degree and license to practice is a requirement for this position.
Associate Attorney salary: $72,204
An Immigration Lawyer assists clients who wish to immigrate to another country for work and residency. They present cases in court representing the local, state, or federal government. They assist with navigating through the complex legal requirements for applications for citizenship and work visas of non-residents. An immigration lawyer must possess a degree from an accredited law school, and have passed the bar examinations of the state of employment.
Immigration Lawyer salary: $66, 432
Litigation Support Specialist
Litigation Support Specialist tasks involve collecting and storing information related to litigation, including electronic records and hard copies. They also create, maintain, and update document databases and workflow for documentation. As a specialist within the law firm, they are vital in ensuring data security, especially from a security breach. You can secure employment as a litigation support specialist with just a bachelor’s degree in a related field.
Litigation Support Specialist salary: $61,500
A Legal Administrator is someone who works in a law office, ensuring that all operations run smoothly. They are in charge of accounting duties at the firm, such as forecasting, budgeting, and variance analysis. Typically, legal administrators must track the law office’s expenditures, which includes carrying out of billing and collections as well as reporting taxes. This job also involves supervising a team, so duties such as hiring/carrying out evaluations and discipline are necessary. Legal administrators are holders of bachelor’s degree in business administration or finance. This is a specialty area, so technical skills are an essential requirement.
Legal Administrator salary: $60,150
Alternative Dispute Resolution Mediator
An Alternative Dispute Resolution Mediator is a legal professional who uses a collection of processes referred to as alternative dispute resolution. A mediator is one who helps people settle disputes without going through the court system. Requirements to become an alternative dispute resolution mediators vary by state and by the industry. Some states require experienced lawyers. However, many do not even stipulate that one has to have a law degree. To become a mediator, attend training or obtain relevant experience. Education, licensing, and certification requirements vary.
Alternative Dispute Resolution Mediator salary: $55,125
A Litigation Paralegal has several essential duties in the litigation process. They handle documents, and on a day-to-day basis, they must organize, coordinate, and file necessary documents for the attorney to access. Litigation paralegals handle several legal tasks under the supervision of attorneys. They prepare materials needed to present to the court; they conduct research and prepare for depositions. The educational requirements to become a paralegal vary. They may gain their experience from on-the-job training and advance professionally over time. However, to be a litigation paralegal, the legal community deems it necessary to obtain a paralegal associate’s degree or paralegal certification.
Litigation paralegal salary: $54,272
Real Estate Paralegal
Real Estate Paralegals prepare the documentation necessary in any case, including real estate purchases or sale closings. Their task may include reviewing amendments, leases, subleases, or purchase assignments. They work with lawyers to complete pending purchase agreements and create closing checklists for all real estate sales. A real estate paralegal must be prepared for the real estate career world. The job often requires experience as a paralegal along with associate’s or bachelor’s degree, as well as a certificate.
Real Estate Paralegal salary: $50,265
A Court Reporter is an officer of the court who create written transcripts to record spoken communications within a court proceeding. These transcripts are crucial as they serve as the records for all the aspects of the trial. To become a court reporter, attend a technical school or vocational training geared specifically to this career.
Federal court reporters must at least possess four years of experience as a reporter or as a court reporter or combination thereof. You have to pass the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR). There is a preference for applicants who possess Realtime certification from the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) or a software or hardware used to produce real-time transcripts in the courtroom.
Court reporter salary: $50,096
Members of Congress
Members of Congress are elected officials of the government whose duties include representation, legislation, constituent service, and educations. They also engage in political and electoral activities. To be a member of Congress, you must be elected by their given electoral college. The Constitution requires that a US Senator must be 30 years of age, citizens of the United States for at least nine years, and residents of the states from which they are elected.
On the other hand, it is provided that members of the House of Representatives must be at least 25, citizens for seven years, and residents of the states which send them to Congress. States may set additional requirements for election to Congress, but the constitution gives each house the power to determine the qualification of its members.
Members of Congress salary: $50,000
Legal Secretaries perform secretarial tasks that are specific to the field of law. Their jobs involve preparing legal documents, such as summonses, motions, and subpoenas. Apart from regular secretarial duties like answering phone calls and email, filing, creating, and maintaining the schedule of lawyers, they also conduct legal research. Legal secretaries typically have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in the legal field. Some employers, however, will accept candidates with significant prior experience in place of a degree.
Legal Secretary salary: $42,065
Immigration Paralegals are those who work for government agencies or for firms whose legal focus is on immigration law. They work with immigration attorneys to help clients in citizenship or deportation proceedings. Immigration paralegals are key personnel in maintaining the sanctity of U.S. citizenship. To become an immigration paralegal, you need to complete an associate or bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies. You may also want to learn about immigration law to gain a head start into this specialty.
Immigration Paralegal salary: $49,134
Paralegals work at the forefront of affordable assistance both for their employers and the public. They help create equitable access to legal aid and perform legal support services to attorneys. Primarily, they provide professional service by creating legal documents as well as filing them in court. Paralegals also accompany lawyers to see clients and or to go to court. The job requires an associate’s degree or certificate in paralegal studies. Some employers require that you have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field as well as previous experience in working as a paralegal.
Paralegal salary: $45,841
Legal Administrative Assistant
A Legal Administrative Assistant provides support to lawyers and paralegals through conducting research, filing cases, handling correspondence, and other legal duties. They need to have a solid knowledge of various legal principles and terms. As part of the administrative department, they maintain a high level of confidentiality in all matters of the case. Legal administrative assistants are essential in ensuring a quick turnaround, especially in sensitive situations. To be a Legal administrative assistant, you must have an associate’s degree in business or related field.
Legal Administrative Assistant salary: $48,764
10 Unique Law Careers
The legal career is vast. Legal professionals may opt to go into non-traditional jobs that are for law-trained professionals. Here are the top 10 unique legal careers.
Associate Director Of A Bar Review Corporation
Passing the bar examinations is a requisite to practice law. Because the bar exams is an ordeal, bar review corporations exist to help law students hurdle the Bar. Associate directors of bar review corporations is a non-traditional job for someone who is trained in the legal profession. The duties of this career involve sales promotion, management, and administration. To be an associate director of a bar review corporation, you must at least have a law degree. Someone who is self-motivated and someone with excellent interpersonal skills is also preferred. One of the leading bar review centers in the U.S. pays their directors an average annual salary of $138,000.
In the study of law, Law Professors are active players. If you have a passion for both the law and teaching, then you should consider being a law professor. Even though this position is not a traditional law career, it is one of the highest paid with an annual salary of $135,721. Because the field is hyper-competitive, you should start building your portfolio.
Healthcare Marketing Director (Private Healthcare provider)
Employers prefer Healthcare Marketing Directors to be holders of a law degree. Their duties require legal knowledge, knowledge of legal terminologies. Since they create, implement plans for hospitals and medical facilities, they must behave sufficient understanding of the applicable laws. Employers also require banking experience. Background in public finance, bank trust experience, and marketing experience is helpful in this job. Annually, healthcare marketing directors earn $86,141.
Associate Publisher (Legal Monthly Newspaper)
An Associate Publisher works in a legal monthly newspaper or law journals. They are responsible for promotions, advertising, selection of editorial features, and legal writings. For this position, familiarity with law firm practices, conference and corporate sales are helpful. The difference between a traditional associate publisher and an associate publisher in a legal monthly newspaper is the subject of focus. An associate publisher in a legal monthly paper focuses on editing and proofreading legal publications. In applying for this job, employers prefer someone who has a legitimate network. On average, the annual pay of an associate publisher is $75, 536.
Legal Recruiters are human resource personnel working within the justice system. These professionals help other legal professionals land a job. They also help lawyers succeed in a challenging market. Your job is to connect professionals and employers. Legal recruiters connect with possible clients and endorse them to law firms. On average, a legal recruiting manager earns an annual salary of $71,041.
Law Firm Administrator
A Law Firm Administrator offers administrative support in a law office. They manage schedules and coordinate appointments and meetings with clients and various stakeholders. For this position, you assist attorneys and paralegals by preparing reports and keeping track of legal correspondence. You make sure to supervise the support staff and maintain legal management systems. Law firm administrator earns an average annual salary of $67,707.
Law Librarians are people who are generally fascinated with the literary aspect of the law, the organization of the legal code and documentation. With their expertise, they usually work with lawyers, law clerks, paralegals, and other legal and business professionals. They find employment in various institutions such as a law firm, law library, court, a government organization, or even in a corporate setting. Master’s in Library and Information Science degree holders is given preference in a highly technical profession. Law librarians are tasked to analyze, organize, and research information needed by their employer. In a year, a Law Librarian can earn an average of $60,547.
Civil Rights Investigator
If social work appeals to you, you might want to become a Civil Rights Investigator. A civil rights investigator applies the law to investigate reported discrimination cases against individuals. They investigate charges filed by applicants for state employment. Their duties include pre-investigative activities, investigative planning, technical report writing, dispute resolution, and other related tasks. Typically employed by the government, they have an average annual pay of $53,854.
A Paralegal Instructor is a professional who has gained high proficiency and expertise in paralegal work. They train student paralegals to become competent and certified in paralegal work. Lawyers are welcome to venture into the field of paralegal instructor. For this job, the duties involve typical duties of professors; these include teaching courses, grade papers, and develop course programs. Unlike a law professor, a paralegal instructor is not required to publish in law journals. They can teach at a community college and earn an average annual pay of $49,879.
Law School Career Counselor
Any ethical school offer career counselors to guide students navigate within their field of choice. Law schools are no exception. Law School Career Counselors give students direction and help them prepare to land a job after they graduate from law school. Their role is not limited to these. They also administer personality, interest, and aptitude tests. A master’s in Counseling or a related field is required for this position. They must also have been engaged in relevant licensing and documented time in supervised practice. To succeed in this position, a knack for researching information about clients is essential. In a year, a law school career counselor earns an average of $43, 389.
Top Travel Law Careers
Corporate Lawyers are specialized lawyers that primarily take on legal cases involving corporate law. Many large corporations have officers across the country, as well as internationally. Due to the broad scope of the business, you are required to travel when you handle casework. To embark on this career, you must obtain a law degree and be admitted to the bar. The average annual salary of corporate lawyers is reported at $169,604.
Judges are lawyers that are elected or appointed to their positions. They oversee legal proceedings. The conduct hearings, analyze evidence, decide cases, and they also make legal opinions. Most of the work is conducted in the court of their offices. However, they often travel to courthouses across their respective state or country to conduct trials and hearings. To become a judge, you must first be an experienced practicing lawyer. You must also have the support of politicians and be elected or appointed to the position. On average, a judge may earn $145,605 per year. However, judicial compensation may differ based on the judge’s jurisdiction.
Criminal Defense Lawyer
A criminal defense lawyer is attorneys who argue the case of their client in front of a judge, jury, and or prosecutors. They must be licensed to practice law and may be required to travel to make appearances in various courts where they have cases. They may represent clients in federal courts. Their average annual pay is $80, 116.
International Trade Lawyer
International Trade Lawyers are those attorneys who focus on international trade. They are required to travel domestically and internationally as part of their scope of work. To become an international trade lawyer, you must be a qualified lawyer. Your legal focus must be on areas on import, export laws, customs law, and trade and compliance regulations. The average pay of international trade lawyers is $79,160 a year.
International Human Rights Lawyer
International Human Rights Lawyers are attorneys who specialize in the area of Human Rights Law. They focus on protecting the rights and freedoms of people, both nationally and internationally. They may work in a firm, government agency such as the United Nations. This career is highly international. Because of the nature of their job, human rights attorneys are often required to travel both domestically and internationally to work on cases. To be a human rights lawyer, you must first earn a law degree and pass the bar examinations. It is also recommended to gain experience within a law firm or government agency during your studies and secure an annual salary of $69,785.
A Paralegal is someone who provides support to lawyers. Their work involves legal research, maintaining casework, organizing files, drafting legal documents. Paralegals occasionally travel for legal analysis or in preparation for their trials. An associate degree or certificate in paralegal studies is needed if you want to be a paralegal. Some employers prefer a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Paralegals receive an average annual salary of $50,410.
A Court Reporter is someone who prepares transcripts of legal proceedings. They are highly trained legal professionals who are capable of converting spoken words into stenographic notes for archival use. Their role involves traveling to different court locations, whether in-state or nationally. To become a court reporter, you must have the experience as a freelance reporter or a court reporter. Receiving a certification from the NCRA, and a certificate of merit from the National Shorthand Reporters Association is preferred. The average yearly salary for court reporters is reported at $50,096.
What does Juris Doctor or J.D. degree entail?
A Juris Doctor or J.D. degree is the typical law degree that law students pursue once they enter law school. In the United States, a J.D. degree is considered the highest education that is made available for students of law and in the legal profession. Additionally, it is a professional degree which will prepare you for the State Bar Examination. Passing the Bar is the key to practicing law in your state. You can obtain the degree by enrolling in any of the American Bar Association (ABA) accredited institutions. Those who want to earn the degree must be a holder of an undergraduate diploma. Of course, any degree related to the law will give you, and once you begin law school.
Most law students take Political Science or Business-related and Social Science majors in college. These courses encourage critical thinking and rational thought. They will not only prepare you for the rigors of the profession, but they will also place you at an advantage. Having a solid foundational knowledge and skills involved in the complexities of social science is necessary for your journey in law. Since lawyers need to be analytical and rational decision-makers, having an excellent research and communication background will help you succeed in your legal practice.
Once you graduate from college and take the LSAT, you are now eligible to apply to the law school of your choice. The Juris Doctor degree program will vary from one Law school to another. They may differ in the length and courses available. However, the ABA has set standard guidelines that legal institutions are required to comply with. Average time of completion is set to three years of full-time study, while part-time students may require longer completion time. After earning a J.D. degree, you will be qualified to take the state bar, and ultimately, obtain your license to practice law.
The Juris Doctor degree exposes law students to holistic coursework, allowing them to become well-rounded legal professionals. More importantly, students develop a strong and in-depth understanding of the United States legal system, laws, and legal orders. General courses are integrated into the curriculum, but will heavily focus on core courses. Among the basic courses under the J.D. degree are the following:
- Civil Procedures
- Criminal Procedures
- Constitutional Laws
- Contract Law
- Agency, Trust and Partnership
- Courtroom Procedures
- Criminal Law
- Civil Law
- Property and Real Estate Law
- Civil Law
- Public Law
- International Law
- Insurance Law
- Business Law
- Alternative Dispute Resolution
Law students are also expected to complete an internship or practicum. Educational institutions, especially law schools, emphasize the need for on-the-job training. Aside from exposing students to the realities of their chosen profession, they also gain relevant insight as to how they can better perform once they graduate. Internship requirements will give them practical hands-on experiences, those that are not available within the four corners of the classroom. Also, law students gain valuable connections during this period. These connections can lead to exclusive career opportunities that will jumpstart your career in the legal field.
How much will a Law Degree cost me?
Earning a J.D. degree and passing the Bar Exam is a dream for many. This would mean that they will become an Attorney, the coveted title that will set them apart from the rest. As a Lawyer and a member of the Bar, you are seen as a symbol of high ethical and moral standards. People give you respect as you embody the legal system. You exercise candor, while only taking calculated risks, especially at work. Once you land your first job, you will typically receive an average annual salary of $151,026. While the 6-digit income might come as a great motivator, we must first discuss the cost of legal education.
The cost of law school, including tuition, board, and lodging, and other fees is expensive, more so in top-ranked institutions. In the U.S., there are public and private Law schools that offer the same Juris Doctor (J.D.) curriculum. According to the data pooled by the US News, the national average annual tuition and other fees at a private law school are $49,095. This data is taken from the 2018-2019 academic year. This rate is $8,400 higher when compared to the average annual out-of-state tuition for public law schools. Whereas, when compared to the in-state tuition and fees, private law schools cost $21,500 more.
These data is overwhelming, yes, but this is the reality of venturing into Law school. It is wise that you begin researching and comparing law schools. You will learn that tuition may vary from one law school to another. When choosing what school to enroll in, you must consider the passing rate or performance of their Law graduates in the last three years. External factors such as starting salaries, employment rate, and the current job statistics in the legal profession are things to consider as well.
Fortunately, there are various student loan programs which you can avail to finance your legal education. With lenient repayment plans and generous grace period, you can finish law school with minimal financial damage and escape insurmountable debt.
What should I prepare for Law School to get a Law Degree?
When choosing a law school, it is essential that you consider everything. Keep in mind the specific field of study you want to specialize in as well as the career prospect in that field. Most importantly, consider your desire and eagerness to finish the degree because Law school is tough. Among the many things to prioritize, here are the two most essential factors in your admission:
- Your undergraduate performance
The ultimate determiner as to what law school you can get in is your undergraduate performance. This is also the first step in evaluating your chances of being admitted to your chosen Law school. Make an honest evaluation of your records and begin there. Limit your application to places where you can qualify. You have to remember that this is the most critical criteria in law school admission. To ascertain that you get admitted to your dream law school, you need to prepare as soon as you enter high school.
While in High School, take courses that will hone and develop your writing skills. Writing is a critical skill in the legal profession. Make sure that you get well-rounded course credits in high school, which will also prepare you for your college education. Enroll in classes that emphasize research and writing, especially persuasive and critical essay. As a law student and later on, as a legal professional, your work will revolve on communication. It is best that you invest in courses and activities that will boost your confidence in communicating with others. Also, consider enrolling in sociology, political science human behavior, history, and psychology, as well as science and math. An impressive academic record will always go a long way.
- LSAT score
Aside from your undergraduate point average or GPA, your Law School Admission Test (LSAT) score can make or break your admission to any law school. Admission committees rely heavily on an applicant’s LSAT school. However, your LSAT score is only a part of the first of the two-step process in law school admission committees follow.
Initially, the committee will evaluate both your LSAT score and GPA. The assessment will be based on the schools targeted median range of first-year students. The median range can go anywhere between the 25th and 75th percentile, depending on the school. To check your chances of getting into a given law school, you can verify through the schools’ ABA Standard 509 Information Report or the school’s “509.” The school’s 509 will reveal the specifically targeted range of the law school. You can quickly check this information as it is available through the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions. Of course, you can always Google the name of the law school’s 509.
Although your LSAT scores are not entirely decisive of your law school admission, getting a score above the 75th percentile will boost your chances. After the committee verifies your records, you will then be placed under a category. There are three categories in total – presumptive admit; presumptive deny, and everybody else.
The second step of the two-step category will determine your fate. In this critical step, the law school admission committee typically reviews each applicant. Generally, those who are categorized under the presumptive admit will get in. Consequently, those who get presumptive deny will be usually denied admission. However, these categories will work in reverse when a piece of compelling information regarding an applicant is made known to the committee. Everybody else’s not belonging in either group lies in the middle. This is where the committee deliberates the application of each aspiring Law student.
Why specialize in Law School?
Specialization, much like in undergraduate studies, is available in Law school. Choosing a concentration or specialization in Law school is optional. The specializations include Corporate Law, Criminal Law, Civil Law, Environmental and Natural Resources, Health Care Law, Immigration Law, Intellectual Property Law, and Taxation Law. The number of specialized classes will depend on your law school. Additional units may be required for you to take and complete to earn the concentration. These upper-level classes include experiential learning opportunities for you to comply with fully. While some schools do not impose additional courses, but only recommend them. In both cases, however, an academic advisor will be available at any time. When you fully comply with the educational standard set for the said specialization, you will receive a special notation.
Your specialization will be reflected on both of your diploma, transcript, or you will get recognition during graduation. These factors will all depend on your law school’s academic standards. This is only one of the benefits of having a concentration. Choosing to concentrate in a specific area of Law will hone your skills as well as your legal knowledge in said area. Engage in the field of the law that you enjoy and is passionate about. Gain industry-specific legal expertise and experience to attract as many law firms as possible. Having a specialization will give you a competitive advantage among the rest of your peers. The legal market is competitive; you might as well invest in a specialty area to begin strategizing your career. Most importantly, you will receive unique employment opportunities both in and out of law school.
When you specialize, you are free to go deeper into a subject. You will also have direct access to various innovation and development in the area. Law school specialization will set the stage towards becoming an authority in your field of choice.
If you are currently undecided with regards to a specific legal concentration, you will have three years in law school to explore your options. Pay attention to your classes and the pertinent extracurricular activities that will encourage you to move forward with the specialty. You will have plenty of chances to discover your specialization. Your law school will hold legal clinics or legal aid programs which will prove useful during your decision-making process. However, if you are not yet decided on declaring a major, you are not required to choose a concentration.