When it comes to the legal profession, many instantly think of attorneys, but many lucrative legal careers in the United States do not require you to receive 3 years of expensive law school education.
In the last decade, a massive surge in the legal market has led to an increase in the demand for talented people working in the legal profession in many different roles, from legal nurse consultants to paralegals and more. Ehline Law’s resident personal injury attorney, Michael Ehline has a team of legal professionals available to assist in every aspect of a legal case due to his background starting from the bottom.
The State of the Legal Services Market in the United States
During the last two years, the majority of industries in the United States saw a downfall due to the lack of economic activity. However, the legal market was one of the few that finished the 2021 year on a strong economic footing.
The corporate and real estate sectors saw a boom in 2021, greater than their pre-pandemic level performance, which fueled the law market in the country, becoming the main source of the soaring demand for legal professions. With a rise in realization rates and law firms’ pushing their billing rates up, 2021 saw a strong year for law firms, delivering high profits.
The Increasing Need for Attorneys and Nonlawyers
The increase in the demand for legal services in 2021 resulted in a serious appetite for legal talent. Law firms scrambled to find the right resources for different departments. However, with this new competition for legal talent, many law firms are competing too, offering increased compensation to hire a new workforce. With the dynamics evolving rapidly, not only did law firms see an increase in demand for their services, but they also faced record high attorney and staff turnover.
Recent reports suggest that firms with the highest compensation are the ones facing higher turnover rates than firms with the lowest compensation. This points out other factors that may be affecting attorneys’ and nonlawyers’ decisions to stay in the firm, such as workload, appreciation, mental well-being, and work-life balance.
If you’re looking for career opportunities in the legal profession, we have narrowed it down to the top 10 legal careers for nonlawyers.
Top 10 Legal Careers for Non-lawyers
Over the years, the legal services industry has witnessed a technological shift to accommodate the legal discovery process. Previously, law firms would document, file, and store any information pertinent to the case in large storage rooms. However, with the introduction of technology, the same information, whether it is evidence or supporting documentation from a legal case or proceeding, is now maintained in electronic form. The specialists responsible for this are commonly known as E-discovery professionals.
In the legal world, discovery is the phase where all the parties in a court discover relevant information pertinent to the other party. Previously, legal professionals would dig through boxes of paper records, which would take a lot of time. In recent decades, the discovery phase now involves electronic forms of information, and e-discovery professionals review and manage these electronic data records.
Some of the roles and responsibilities of e-discovery professionals include:
- Creating electronically stored information (ESI) policies and ensuring compliance with federal rules and regulations.
- Assist in gathering, processing, reviewing, analyzing, and producing ESI.
- Helping clients understand the e-discovery policies.
- Communication with different departments, including the legal team, IT staff, staff responsible for managing records, and others.
The roles and responsibilities of e-discovery professionals vary depending on the level of experience and position in the firm. There are four common types of e-discovery professionals, and they are document coders, e-discovery specialists, e-discovery managers, and e-discovery directors.
Due to the recent rise in ESI and the changes in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, we expect the e-discovery industry to generate revenues worth more than $11 billion annually.
Legal Nurse Consultant
Legal nurse consultant has become one of the hottest careers in the legal field in the last decade. It’s a great opportunity for licensed and experienced nurses to transition from the traditional clinical roles to apply their expertise in assessing medically related issues in the legal arena. So, what do legal nurse consultants do?
Legal cases involving medical issues require the assistance of qualified and licensed medical staff (doctors or nurses) to provide insights and evaluate the case from their point of view. They can work in a court, with insurance companies, law firms, and other agencies. Legal nurse consultants bring medical expertise to the legal field, helping lawyers during the litigation process.
If you’re interested in joining the legal nurse consulting profession, you would need two to four years of university education related to nursing. Minimum education requirements include a bachelor’s degree or an associate’s degree. After completing the nursing university program, those graduates looking to practice must obtain the NCLEX-RN as it is the primary requirement to receive a license.
Additional certifications are a great way to let employers know that you’re passionate about excelling in this field. Although not required, nurses looking to demonstrate their commitment to the field can consider obtaining legal nurse consulting certification, which is typically valid for 5 years.
If you’re considering employment at a law firm as a legal nurse consultant, you do not require a law degree. Those pursuing legal-related courses such as med-legal or learning legal terminologies are equipping themselves with the necessary skills to work with attorneys.
Litigation Support Professional
Lawsuits can often be challenging or complex, and with the workload a single attorney has, they require assistance from litigation support professionals to help with creating and managing databases, reviewing paperwork, accessing records, and compiling trial presentation materials.
When a case goes to the court system, the process of litigation begins, and litigation support professionals assist attorneys in handling complex litigation. Major litigation has large amounts of data that require maintaining and processing, and these professionals help in creating and implementing databases.
Besides developing and managing databases, litigation support professionals must also actively develop data management strategies, help with legal technology within the courtroom, and provide training to the relevant staff in using and maintaining databases.
Law firms, legal consulting firms, and businesses require the help of litigation support professionals to manage the IT staff, litigation staff, paralegals, and other professionals that work with technology in assessing information and databases.
Entry-level litigation support professionals or those with very little experience in the field can earn around $61,500 annually. As the experience and skillset increase, so does the pay. You can expect to earn a healthy six-figure income or even more depending on the law firm you work with, the location of the law firm, the area of law the firm specializes in, and, of course, your level of experience.
It is not uncommon for a paralegal to work in hybrid roles, such as performing traditional paralegal tasks while assuming the responsibilities of an IT role. However, if you’re starting from scratch, you would need a four-year bachelor’s degree in a relevant field and technical skills in using litigation support applications.
Considered to be the fastest-growing profession in the legal field, paralegals are of paramount importance to what attorneys do. Paralegals help attorneys deliver legal services to clients, and around 73% of the paralegals employed in the United States work for law firms or corporations offering legal services.
A paralegal cannot replace an attorney as they don’t have the relevant knowledge and skillset to do so. Paralegals only work under the supervision of experienced attorneys, and since they are not attorneys or do not replace one, they cannot offer legal advice, represent clients in court, or sign any documents that require court filings. So what are the roles and responsibilities of a paralegal?
A day in the life of a paralegal includes:
- Drafting legal documents and pleadings.
- Handling discovery.
- Organizing and managing files.
- Filing documents with the courts.
Although they cannot offer legal advice, they have the legal knowledge to investigate the facts of the case by interviewing clients, witnesses, and performing research.
The roles and responsibilities of a paralegal depend on the law firm they are working at. Essentially, paralegals are there to free up an attorney’s time by taking on some of their roles and responsibilities or by assisting them with their cases.
Only attorneys have the legal skills to advise clients and the right to show up in court, something paralegals cannot do. However, with an attorney busy with cases, this can get difficult, and this is why law firms hire paralegals so that attorneys can focus on what they do best.
On average, paralegals can make around $24.49 per hour or an average salary of $50,940 annually. However, this can vary depending on the skills and expertise of the paralegals and the firms they are working at.
A legal assistant also referred to as a legal secretary, administrative assistant, or law firm administrator typically performs administrative and clerical tasks to ensure a smooth operation at a law firm or legal office.
Legal secretaries start their careers as legal receptionists before they receive promotions and move to a more administrative or secretariat-style role. Some law firms even promote experienced legal secretaries to the position of paralegal.
Some of the roles and responsibilities of a legal secretary include:
- Create and manage a system with all relevant legal filing deadlines to help attorneys stay on top of their legal cases.
- Create legal documents such as subpoenas, pleadings, discovery documents, and more.
- Correspond with relevant parties and schedule meetings, inspections, and depositions.
Since attorneys are responsible for looking at all aspects of the case before providing legal advice, legal secretaries can help conduct legal research and relay that information to the lawyers.
The remuneration of a legal secretary depends on the level of experience, the location of the firm, and the practice setting. According to a recent report by the Internet Legal Research Group, entry-level legal secretaries can expect to make $28,000 per year, while a senior legal secretary with considerable experience can earn up to $61,500 annually.
To become a legal secretary, you do not require formal training or legal education. However, many of the opportunities within the United States for legal secretaries require them to have at least a four-year bachelor’s degree or some formal training. If you’re interested in becoming a legal secretary, you can pursue one-to-two-year legal secretarial programs conducted by technical centers or local colleges.
Additional certification helps boost employment opportunities for legal secretaries, and those who clear the three-part examination by the National Association for Legal Professionals will receive an ALS designation.
Legal secretaries must know the legal jargon, be aware of the legal procedures, have fast typing skills, and be able to manage time efficiently.
Many court cases go towards a settlement rather than a trial, as it can be time-consuming and expensive. However, those that go to trial require the cases to be trial-ready. You may have seen movies or TV series where an attorney “destroys” the defendant in the most charismatic way possible. What you see takes weeks and months of preparation to achieve the desired results, and attorneys are not alone in preparing the case for trial.
Trial consultants provide their expertise and skills in helping prosecutors or defense attorneys. However, the industry is now witnessing a change where trial consultants are offering arbitration and mediation services since many of the court cases do not advance to trial.
Typically, the role of a trial consultant includes assisting attorneys to create a strong case, but this does not mean that trial consultants must be from a legal background or have legal training. Trial consultants can have a background in any field, from psychology to law enforcement, anthropology, and any other field. This is because each case is different and would require specialized help from trial consultants specializing in those fields.
For example, a defense attorney working on a murder case may require the help of a trial consultant specializing in psychology to help create a questionnaire to identify any jurors that may be sympathetic towards the defense attorney’s client. Trial consultants usually work at law firms or are self-employed.
Besides a bachelor’s degree and relevant training, a successful trial consultant should have analytical skills, strong communication skills, be able to understand human behavior, be highly determined, and have a likability factor.
When settling disputes outside of the court, both parties are simply not tossed into a room to battle it out among themselves. Mediators, also commonly referred to as arbitrators, help with the alternative dispute resolution process and resolve conflicts between the parties. Mediators are responsible for bringing creative ideas or ways to negotiate and settle arguments outside of the courtroom.
The roles and responsibilities of a mediator vary depending on the court and state, but typically, a mediator will be responsible for:
- Managing communication among parties to reach a common ground to help resolve the dispute.
- Conducting initial meetings or sessions with the relevant parties and informing them about the mediation process.
- Conduct interviews with the relevant disputing parties and witnesses while examining legal documents to understand the issue at hand.
- Managing procedural matters arising in an alternative dispute resolution, such as fulfilling witness requirements.
If you’re looking to become a mediator, there is no such formal certification or licensing in the United States. Aspiring arbitrators can pursue independent training courses offered by the mediation membership organizations in the country.
Jury consultants are human behavior experts that help attorneys get an edge in high-stakes jury trials. Jury consultants are experts at researching and picking out jurors and then understanding how they behave. These types of insights are of the utmost importance to an attorney appearing in criminal trials or really complex civil litigation.
Important to the legal process, jury consultants have the following roles and responsibilities:
- Researching and selecting jurors, developing juror profiles, and deriving insights from the selected juror’s behavior.
- Collect statistical data, analyze the data, and create analytical reports based on the gathered data.
- Creating strategies to shape the jurors’ perceptions to ensure a positive outcome.
- Work with witnesses, coaching them to be able to tell facts in a presentable manner under questioning.
- Develop strategies and presentations to help attorneys present a persuasive story to the jurors.
The 2002 Sabarnes Oxley Act started a new wave of compliance and reporting for firms, leading to a popular legal career option: compliance specialists. These individuals help corporations comply with the relevant state and federal laws, regulations, and policies. They work closely with the relevant government institutions and agencies while managing compliance matters at the firm.
A typical day in the life of a compliance specialist involves:
- Liaising with the legal department and communicating compliance matters to the management.
- Training employees on the relevant compliance rules and policies.
- Identifying compliance issues within the firm and investigating them.
- Preparing, maintaining, and filing compliance reports.
To become a compliance specialist, individuals must gain a bachelor’s degree in business, finance, or any related field. Certification in this field is highly recommended, and aspiring compliance specialists can aim for a certified risk and compliance management professional program. Experience in the field is also highly preferred by employers.
Ever wondered who produces official transcripts of legal proceedings? Here’s a guess: they’re not lawyers.
Transcripts from trials, hearings, or legislative meetings are important for many individuals, including attorneys, and those responsible for producing these written transcripts are court reporters. Lawyers, juries, and other parties need word-for-word details on what happened during the legal events (trials, hearings, or legislative meetings) to be able to reference them whenever required.
Not all court reporters operate in a legal setting, and you may find that these trained court reporters can caption live events or television broadcasts for deaf audiences or those who are hard of hearing.
Some of the responsibilities of court reporters include:
- Attend legal events (trials, hearings, depositions, and other events) to produce written transcripts.
- Be able to use specialized machines like microphones, A/V equipment, and others to record legal events.
- Provide copies of the transcript to the relevant parties, including courts and case parties.
The average salary of a court reporter in the United States is around $26.5 per hour or $55,120 annually.
Just like any other industry, if you’re looking to increase your chances of employment in the legal field, certification and training can help you land a job.
Attorneys rely on a lot of different support staff in a variety of roles. At lawofficetsudy.net, we have a whole team of legal specialists, paralegals, medical consultants, administrators, and more, assisting our attorneys in preparing trial-ready cases for our clients.