Law

Alternative careers in the legal system

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There are lots of fascinating roles available in today’s legal profession, and you don’t need to set your sights on becoming an attorney or a judge in order to enjoy a successful career. In fact, you don’t even need a law degree in every case. This article sets out some of the alternative routes open to you so that you can find the path that really engages your passion for the law.

Mediator

When we think of law, we usually think about the courts, but a whole lot of time and money can be saved if disputes can be resolved before it gets that far, and this is something that more and more people are choosing to engage with. Mediators are the legal experts who step in in this situation to ensure that discussions between plaintiffs and their clients are conducted fairly, that everything is above board, and that suitable compromises can be reached. It’s their job to be neutral and do their best to make sure that both parties are satisfied. This job requires a bachelor’s degree at minimum and a knack for getting people to calm down and listen. Mediators earn annual salaries of around $60,670.

Legal secretary

Ultimately, the whole concept of law is founded on recognizing the importance of order and rules, and what could be more fundamental to that than a good secretary? No legal office could get by without one. A good high school diploma can get you into this job, but you’ll be expected to keep learning as you go, and most legal secretaries acquire a lot of expertise over the course of their careers. You’ll be responsible for keeping track of documents in what can be very complex situations, organizing meetings for people whose schedules are always changing, and making sure that visitors to the office are happy, whether they’re nervous members of the public or senior judges. Experienced legal secretaries earn annual salaries of around $76,500.

Litigation support professional

In the UK, the person who prepares evidence for use in court and the person who presents it are usually different. The fact that these two roles are fused in the US makes the job much tougher, especially in complex cases – hence the emergence of the litigation support professional, who is gradually shouldering more and more of the burden when it comes to research, data management and the technical side of preparing cases. If you’re interested in this role, you can get a head start if you study criminal litigation online, but remember that criminal litigation is the most sensitive of all and needs to meet very high standards. Litigation support professionals earn annual salaries of around $84,000.

Contract administrator

Whenever contracts are signed between different parties, it’s important to make sure that the terms they set out are legally coherent and properly understood. Contract administrators are the people responsible for overseeing this. Although the job used to be done by lawyers, it has evolved into a specialty, and it’s no longer necessary to have a law degree in order to do this work, though you will need to understand related laws and regulations very well. Increasingly, contract administrators themselves specialize in particular industries, and they tend to have backgrounds working in those industries in other capacities such as management. Contract administrators earn annual salaries of around $60,416.

Compliance professional

If you’ve ever worked at a senior level in business, you’ll be aware of how many rules and regulations there are to deal with in every aspect of day-to-day production, trading and workforce management. Compliance professionals are the specialists who look after this side of things to make sure that business owners don’t get in trouble – a little like accountants with a general business focus. They come from a variety of backgrounds but need to be constantly learning to keep up with changes in laws and regulatory practice. If you pursue this role, you’ll also need to have the confidence to assert yourself when owners want to cut corners and don’t appreciate why the rules matter. Compliance specialists earn annual salaries of around $77,400.

With all of these options and more to explore, law is a rich and diverse field with opportunities for intelligent and diligent people from all backgrounds, even if they have only modest qualifications. Whichever legal career path you choose, you’ll find it varied and interesting, with new challenges arising all the time and plenty to stimulate your intellect. This is a field in which you can find real job satisfaction.

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