Alternative Legal Careers
10 Law-Related Careers Without Law School or a Badge
If you watch TV, you may think there are only two basic career options if you love the law: Become a lawyer or a cop.
Fortunately, real life is not like television. So if studying for the LSAT or heading for the police academy aren't on your docket, consider these 10 suggestions. Perhaps one of these will lead to the verdict you want: a satisfying career in law.
Judges have enough to worry about in the courtroom without contending with administrative activities like scheduling hearings, overseeing judicial records and recording the results of trials.
Who takes on these tasks? The court administrator, sometimes called the judicial administrator. These individuals also play a key role in trials by announcing the judge, marking exhibits and swearing in witnesses.
Many people brought into US courtrooms speak little or no English. Enter the court interpreter, who helps non-English-speaking litigants, witnesses and defendants understand courtroom proceedings by interpreting everything that's being said, either simultaneously (in real time, as it happens) or consecutively (immediately after it happens).
Court reporters create verbatim reports of trials, hearings and other legal proceedings using either a stenotype machine or a technique called “voice writing,” which allows the reporter to speak the proceedings directly into a hand-held mask equipped with a microphone and voice silencer.
Some court reporters provide closed-captioning services for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, others may do video recording -- see Legal Videographers below.
The newspapers have been filled with reports of corporate accounting fraud. Forensic accountants take part in the investigations that bring these crimes to light. Forensic accountants combine financial expertise with investigative prowess to uncover criminal activities such as embezzlement and “cooking the books” to defraud investors or other stakeholders.
How can lawyers help a jury see what may have happened during such events as an assault, a fatal accident or a plane crash when there's no visual record?
Both prosecution and defense attorneys turn to forensic animators, who use data provided by investigators and eyewitnesses to develop full-motion computer graphics presentations that help juries and judges visualize key events in a civil or criminal action.
Forensic scientists use their scientific backgrounds and investigative expertise to support courtroom and other legal proceedings. A forensic scientist may work with a defense attorney to demonstrate how a crime did not occur or how that attorney's client couldn't possibly have committed the offense. On another case, the same forensic scientist may team up with the prosecution to demonstrate how a crime did occur and how the defendant had to be the one who committed it.
Major newspapers and magazines, professional associations in the legal realm and book publishers large and small all hire writers and editors who have a passion for communicating about legal issues via the written word.
Witnesses called to testify at trials can't always appear in court, in person. Attorneys can hire legal videographers to professionally document witness testimony for the jury to see and hear during the actual trial.
Legal videographers also create day-in-the-life videos to show, for example, how injuries to the plaintiff in a civil lawsuit have impacted his life.
You may not be gearing up to run for the Congress or even state political office, but that doesn't mean you can't get paid to work in settings where laws are being made.
Legislative staffers can work for national or state office holders. They handle casework, answering constituent letters and resolving constituent concerns, or legislative issues such as research, briefing lawmakers on policy issues or lining up support for proposed legislation.
Paralegals (sometimes called legal assistants) handle many of the nitty-gritty research and administrative tasks that practicing attorneys simply don't have the time or inclination to do.
Paralegals help lawyers prepare for trials and hearings, investigate legal precedents and resources to be used in cases, and draft legal documents like contracts and affidavits.
Learn more about legal careers.