ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Find Legal and Paralegal Jobs

Updated on November 21, 2018
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish is a successful Employment & Training pro setting Midwest regional records with tens of thousands placed to gainful employment.

American Law Jobs

Many legal specialties grew in demand during the early 21st century, including the topical fields of aerospace law and regulation and environmental law.

Growing numbers of attorneys are entering the field of environmental law as sustainability and climate change become more important as issues to address. Another legal field that has been growing is tax law, expanding with the growth of forensic accounting from 2000 through 2020.

Source

By the end of America's Great Recession around 2010, approximately 27-28% of American attorneys were self-employed. They worked in private practice alone, as one of a group of partners, or in the lesser though important rank: "Of Counsel.” Attorneys of counsel may be able to work their way into a partnership within their firms as they build success through their work.

Newly graduate law school students often take jobs as law clerks with a practice. Nearly 40% of attorneys of the bar work 50 or more hours per week, often involved in research, report preparation, meetings, and some court rooms. Attorneys can be appointed or elected as judges at various levels of the Judiciary as their careers advance.They may also become law professors

Except for isolated special cases, attorneys require a four-year undergraduate college degree and an additional three years in a law school curriculum. Law school graduates must attain a passing score on individual US States’ written bar examinations wherever they wish to practice law in America. If they move to a new state, they will most likely need to pass a new bar exam.

The Scales of Justice.
The Scales of Justice. | Source

Special Cases Among Lawyers

The attorney and renowned author Erle Stanley Gardner studied law on his own in the first quarter of the 20th century and passed the California Bar Examination without attending college or law school.

He practiced law for a few years until he began to write prolifically, changing over to full-time writing quickly. He is responsible for the Perry Mason phenomenon, another novel series concerning the work of a district attorney, a book or two about a protagonist and the law in Chinatown, historical works about the American Southwest, period crime novels about Donald Lamb and Bertha Cool, and scores of stories for early crime and mystery magazines.

Gardner wrote the well known works that sought American popular opinions and resulted in The Court of Last Resort articles and program in Esquire Magazine. This was the original Innocence Project, back in the early 1950s, freeing several wrongly convicted people on Death Rows.

Another famous instance of this accomplishment was achieved by Frank Abagnale, Jr. in a 1960s-era Louisiana, he is portrayed in the Stephen Spielberg film Catch Me If You Can. At the age of 19, he passed a state bar examination on the third try, without attending any law classes. Mr. Abagnale worked in the State Attorney General’s office as an attorney at age 19.

An extremely successful imposter and fraud, he put his talents to better use when he accepted consultancy work with the FBI. He helped catch criminals and develop several means of fraud prevention for government and business, and became special consultant on documents and a public speaker with his own firm at: Abagnale and Associates.

Thus, not everyone who studies the law becomes the iconic trial attorney.

The Scope of Legal Careers

Major Legal Occupations

  1. Lawyers (Attorneys)
  2. Paralegals and Legal Assistants
  3. Court Reporters
  4. Judges, Magistrates, and Other Judicial Workers

Protective Service Occupations

It has been a misconception that protective services are directly linked to the legal occupations in the list above, but these two categories are distinct. Protective services include:

  • Corrections Officers
  • Fire Fighting Occupations
  • Police, Sheriffs, and Detectives
  • Private Detectives and Investigators
  • Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers

Environmental Law

This field is one of the fastest growing legal sectors from 2000 through 2018, given the rise of awareness about climate change globally and expanding plans for major countries to mine asteroids and settle colonies on the moon and Mars to look for natural resources.

Top 10 Law Schools For Environmental Law

US News and World Reports recommends these institutions:

  1. Lewis and Clark College (Northwestern): Portland OR
  2. Vermont Law School: South Royalton VT
  3. Pace University: White Plains NY
  4. Georgetown University: Washington DC
  5. Duke University: Durham NC
  6. University of Colorado: Boulder CO
  7. Stanford University in Stanford CA
  8. University of Maryland - Baltimore MD
  9. University of Oregon in Eugene
  10. Florida State University in Tallahassee

Attorneys or Lawyers

The American decade 2006 to 2016 represents at least an 11% increase in jobs for attorneys, with a spike of expansion during the Great Recession and a steady increase after that through 2020. From 2016 through 2026, the US Department of Labor estimated another 8% growth in jobs for lawyers.

When we think of legal careers, many of us imagine trial lawyers made famous by films, television series, and crime novels. Some authors have used their own experiences to produce award winning works of fiction and true drama in the world of law and crime.

The early 21st century began an increased need for attorneys that specialize in:

  1. Aerospace law and regulations
  2. Intellectual property rights
  3. Real estate law
  4. Tax law
  5. Environmental law

Other specialties are foreclosure law, criminal law, domestic/family law, employment law, trade secret law, and others.

All American attorneys must pass a state Bar Exam and usually a separate Ethics Examination in order to practice law.

Of all 50 states, 48 states and DC, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands mandate a 6-hour Multi-state Bar Examination (MBE). It is not insisted upon in Louisiana or Washington State.

A local State Bar Examination is also sometimes administered. A three-hour Multi-state Essay Examination (MEE) is added to the other exams in many US States. Overall, a large amount of preparation is involved in law careers and a Multi-state Performance Test of skills is required by several states.

As a reward for diligence in preparation, salaries for experienced attorneys can reach well over $100,000 per year. In fact, the 2016 median annual salary was over $118,000.

Paralegals and Legal Assistants

The majority of newly trained paralegals and legal assistants have earned an associate's degree in paralegal studies, or a bachelor’s and a certificate in paralegal studies. Most work in law firms. although some work for legal departments of companies and in government, and some paralegals may become self employed.

This category of professional workers performs a lot of research and routine jobs until experiences, whereupon they accept additional responsibilities.

As the legal field expands in the 21st century, the need for specialized paralegals increases. The fields of work involved include real estate, taxes, litigation, personal injury, corporate and criminal law, intellectual property, labor law, bankruptcy, immigration, malpractice, family law, and others.

Median salaries in 2016 extended from $38,000 to over $60,000 per year, depending on market area, and the average salary nationwide was $53,000.

Cities in highest need of these workers include:

  1. New York City
  2. Washington DC
  3. Atlanta GA
  4. Los Angeles and San Francisco in California
  5. Chicago
  6. Boston
  7. Dallas and Houston in Texas
  8. Philadelphia PA.

Court Reporters

Short-term certificate training and certification through testing by state authorities is required in this work in order to be most successful.

In the science fiction classic Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein, some individuals held the honored position of Witness. They were actually court reporters that had photographic memories and were hired as perfect human recorders of events, their testimony incorruptible. They wore a special white robe when they were on a case and were highly paid and respected.

Pentagon-approved image of a sketch by artist Janet Hamlin. Here, Arlette Zinck testifies in a military trial of Omar Khadr on Oct. 28, 2010 in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Staff Sgt. Sarah Hawley is the court reporter. depicted in the drawing
Pentagon-approved image of a sketch by artist Janet Hamlin. Here, Arlette Zinck testifies in a military trial of Omar Khadr on Oct. 28, 2010 in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Staff Sgt. Sarah Hawley is the court reporter. depicted in the drawing | Source

Court reporters usually work in court rooms, but can also be used as web casters where electronic recording is used as a legal tool and as broadcast captioners - they add the captions for the hearing impaired on TV.

A high demand is emerging for real-time broadcast captioning in a high-tech instant communications media-driven world. Court reporters can be self-employed freelancers. median wages in AD2010 reached $40,000 - $50,000 per year.

Court Reporter Job Listings in America

Out of a consistent 400 to 600 court reporting jobs listed from January 2016 through January 2018, 25% of jobs were at the federal level and advertised at annual salaries over $60,000.

The bulk of court reporting jobs are available in:

  1. Washington DC
  2. New York City, many in Manhattan
  3. Chicago, Illinois
  4. Los Angeles and San Francisco, California
  5. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  6. Boston, Massachusetts
  7. Atlanta, Georgia

Judges and Other High-Responsibility Positions

These positions require a four-year college degree and experience, although some positions are elected and require a campaign and related expenses as well. Their work is completed mostly indoors, in offices, libraries, and the court, although some field work may become necessary.

About 80% of the states permit non-lawyers to hold a limited or lower level judgeship, but state and federal judges need to have become lawyers and passed all the bar, ethics, and other exams required.

United States Supreme Court, AD 2000s
United States Supreme Court, AD 2000s | Source

Judges preside over a number of types of cases in trials and hearings, and at many levels in society. This includes the township, village, and municipality, the 50 states and protectorates, and the US Supreme Court. Salaries range in median figures from approximately $50,000 to over $250,000 per year.

Please see: A Day in the Life of Judge Walton in the District Court.

Sources

  • American Bar Association - Defending Liberty, Pursuing Justice: American Bar Association, 321 North Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610 (https://www.americanbar.org/ Accessed January 19, 2018.)
  • Careers in Criminology - A Top Career for 2010 - 2020

    If you watch CSI and CSI-Miama on television, you are watching criminology at work. Criminology is an important science in the field of sociology that can help prevent future crimes and help prisons to become rehabilitative.

  • LSAC.org: Law School Admission Council. Law School Admission Council, P.O. Box 40, Newtown, PA 18940. LSAT site of the Law School Admission Council. LSAC's. Services include: LSAT registration; free sample LSAT; LSDAS subscription; law school forum, LSAT test preparation materials
  • NALP - The Association for Legal Career Professionals: National Association for Law Placement, 1025 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 1110, Washington, DC 20036.
  • US Department of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics. (bls.gov/ooh/legal/lawyers.htm, accessed January 17, 2018.)
  • The Indeed.com American job listings, August 2016, August 2017, January 2018, February 2018.

© 2009 Patty Inglish MS

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Melody - Thanks for your comment and kind words; I'm happy to have you appreciate the info.

      LondonGirl - This is a great comment from one in the legal profession in UK - How are the legal careers different in your country? (I may have just requested a whole Hub, because I know little about it except from reading John Mortimer.)

    • LondonGirl profile image

      LondonGirl 

      9 years ago from London

      great guide - and I agree, lawyers who do court work are the exception, rather than the rule.

    • Melody Lagrimas profile image

      Melody Lagrimas 

      9 years ago from Philippines

      Great hub...very informative, thanks.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)