Whether you're about to enter law school, in law school or graduated from law school, there are a variety of job opportunities within the legal field that you can pursue. Some of these jobs allow candidates to specialize in topics they're passionate about. By reviewing the options available to you, you can find one that fits your interests and salary needs. In this article, we define legal career opportunities and provide 20 examples of potential opportunities within the legal field.
What are legal career opportunities?
Legal career opportunities are those that take place both inside and outside of the courtroom at either a local, state or federal level. This may include administrative positions in law firms, lawyers who work in niche areas of practice, consultant roles and more.
20 legal career opportunities
Here are 20 examples of legal career opportunities that vary in qualifications, salary expectations and job responsibilities:
1. Court clerk
National Average Salary: $34,591 per year
Primary Duties: A court clerk is responsible for having witnesses, jurors and others take an oath at the beginning of a hearing or trial. Court clerks can be employed at all levels of legislation including the Supreme Court. In addition to oaths, they also stamp seals on court documents and organize court records. Court clerks typically need a high school diploma, although some employers may ask that they hold an associate degree or bachelor's degree in a related area.
National Average Salary: $40,374 per year
Primary Duties: A paralegal assistant works at a law firm to help paralegals complete their job duties. They may help them sort through files, answer phones or other clerical duties. To become a paralegal assistant, you need at least an associate degree in criminal studies or business.
National Average Salary: $19.46 per hour
Primary Duties: A bankruptcy paralegal is someone who works for an insurance company or corporation. Their main job duties include helping their clients file for bankruptcy and providing them with information about next steps. To become a bankruptcy paralegal, you typically need an associate degree in an area like paralegal studies or criminal studies.
Related: Learn About Being a Paralegal
National Average Salary: $41,220 per year
Primary Duties: A legal assistant works in a law firm and typically aids one or more lawyers complete clerical tasks. These include organizing files, interviewing witnesses and gathering important information ahead of a trial. They may also be present at the time of a trial to help lawyers setup and perform demonstrations. Legal assistants should have an associate degree in paralegal studies, criminal justice or another area. Bachelor's degrees in paralegal studies are also preferable.
Related: Learn About Being a Legal Assistant
National Average Salary: $47,842 per year
Primary Duties: A legal secretaries assist lawyers and other professionals at a law firm but performing clerical duties like answering phone calls, welcoming clients and keeping an organized filing system. Legal secretaries may also be responsible for putting together legal documents like subpoenas for particular situations. To become a legal secretary, candidates should be at least 18 or 21 years old depending on their state and should have a high school diploma or GED.
Related: Learn About Being a Legal Secretary
National Average Salary: $54,787 per year
Primary Duties: A litigation paralegal assists lawyers in preparing for and completing trials in a court setting rather than at the law office itself or an office setting. This is particularly common when a lawsuit is filed on behalf of a party. To qualify for a position as a litigation paralegal, candidates should hold an associate degree, but a bachelor's degree is often preferred by employers.
National Average Salary: $55,057 per year
Primary Duties: A court manager is responsible for overseeing a courthouse, its employees and the trials completed at their location. They may be responsible for hiring court deputies, court clerks and other positions that will help ensure safe and standard court procedures. They typically help lawyers schedule witnesses and set dates for trial procedures. To become a court manager, you need at least a bachelor's degree in pre-law, management or a specialty area like judicial administration. A master's degree may also help enhance your qualifications.
National Average Salary: $57,551 per year
Primary Duties: A personal injury lawyer is a type of lawyer who specializes in cases related to claims of physical or psychological trauma. They can represent clients who claim to have suffered an injury from a car accident, physical altercation or a neglectful relationship. To become a personal injury lawyer, candidates should have a bachelor's degree in pre-law or philosophy, along with a law degree. Candidates must also have taken and passed the bar exam.
National Average Salary: $60,398 per year
Primary Duties: A mediator acts as a sense of reason and direction in non-court proceedings between two or more parties. Their job is to ensure that both parties can come to an agreement or settlement without going to trial. If you want to become a mediator, you should have a bachelor's degree in area like conflict resolution, communication, management or law. You should also have a patient manner and an ability to problem-solve.
National Average Salary: $66,575 per year
Primary Duties: An immigration lawyer helps immigrants navigate situations related to getting a visa or employment within a foreign country. On occasion, they help represent clients who have been denied a visa or green card or who are in the process of being deported. However, immigration lawyers typically complete their work outside of the courtroom. To become an immigration lawyer, candidates should have a bachelor's degree in pre-law and a law degree before passing the bar exam.
National Average Salary: $70,649 per year
Primary Duties: A court interpreter is responsible for helping witnesses, victims and defendants who don't speak that native language used to conduct court proceedings. They need to be able to accurately translate messages to their client and provide their answers in a different language. Court Interpreters either need to be fluent in more than one language or attend a bachelor's degree program in a particular foreign language. Further, certain states may have additional certification or licensure courses to ensure an individual's foreign language competency.
National Average Salary: $78,982 per year
Primary Duties: A trademark paralegal works with lawyers to prepare and carry out trials related to patent/trademark disputes. They may be responsible for doing research about a company's trademark symbol and whether they actually registered it. They may also speak with both parties individually to help establish their viewpoints. To get a job as a trademark paralegal, you should have at least an associate degree in paralegal studies or a related area. Bachelor's degrees in paralegal studies may also be preferred.
13. Family lawyer
National Average Salary: $79,719 per year
Primary Duties: A family lawyer specializes in disputes between family members, particularly divorce cases and additional details related to the situation like child custody and division of property. Family lawyers should have a bachelor's degree in pre-law and a law degree. Further, they should have passed the bar exam and completed paralegal work during the course of their education.
Related: Learn About Being a Lawyer
National Average Salary: $87,281 per year
Primary Duties: An intellectual property paralegal helps lawyers prepare for and complete trials related to copyright infringements and other instances where employees leak trade secrets to the public. An intellectual property paralegal should have an associate degree in paralegal studies or business.
National Average Salary: $114,723 per year
Primary Duties: A litigation lawyer is a type of lawyer who represents clients in civil court cases. They typically always go to trial and spend a lot of their time in the courtroom to defend their clients. They are responsible for building a case, interviewing witnesses and getting expert opinions to back up their claims about the case. Litigation lawyers have bachelor's degrees in pre-law or philosophy, hold a law degree and have passed the bar exam.
National Average Salary: $115,447 per year
Primary Duties: A judge is responsible for overseeing courtroom proceedings. They keep order and ensure that each side gets to plea their case. Once the jurors return, they read the results of the trial to determine whether the defendant has been found guilty. To become a judge, candidates should first complete a bachelor's degree in pre-law and obtain a law degree. After passing their bar exam, they should gain extensive work experience as a courtroom lawyer.
National Average Salary: $116,823 per year
Primary Duties: The chief legal officer works for a corporation and is responsible for assessing whether a company's practices could result in legal action. To become a chief legal officer, candidates should have a law degree and experience working as a lawyer. Corporate law may be helpful in enhancing qualifications.
National Average Salary: $121,783 per year
Primary Duties: An employment lawyer helps former employees find justice after instances of discrimination or maltreatment at their place of employment. They may also help employers determine whether they follow laws and regulations regarding employment. Employment lawyers should have a law degree and experience working in corporate law.
National Average Salary: $136,646 per year
Primary Duties: A corporate counsel helps businesses assess potential legal risks and advises them on how to proceed in reaction to an allegation or lawsuit. Corporate counsels should have a law degree and previous employment as a paralegal to a corporate lawyer.
20. Contracts lawyer
National Average Salary: $66.89 per hour
Primary Duties: A contracts lawyer writes and revises legal documents within a law firm. Contracts lawyers should have a law degree and excellent writing and editing skills.