You may be interested in a career as a lawyer that allows you to work in a challenging field, help other people, and earn a good salary. Law school is expensive and can cost over $200,000. There are certain jobs you can do while you are in law school that will help you earn money and prepare you for your future career.
Working as a Paralegal
Paralegals assist attorneys as they prepare for trial, corporate meetings, and hearings. Their duties will vary depending on the size of the firm they work for. In smaller firms, paralegals usually take on greater responsibilities.
Paralegals might prepare written reports that inform lawyers and help them handle their cases. They might draft documents and prepare legal arguments that will be filed with the court.
In a larger firm, instead of working on a case from the start to the finish, paralegals might focus on a particular phase of the case. For example, litigation paralegals may focus on reviewing legal material used internally and do research for lawyers. They might collect evidence and organize evidence for hearings.
Litigation paralegals rarely go to trial. But they might prepare trial documents.
A person learning how to become a paralegal will want to review the laws for their state. In some states, they require certain certifications. In other states, no such certification is required, but it is still often preferred.
Most paralegals will have a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies, an associate degree in paralegal studies, or a bachelor’s degree in a nonlegal field accompanied by a certificate in paralegal studies.
Working as a Legal Apprentice
Some people take the legal apprenticeship route to qualify as a lawyer. Legal apprenticeship can last up to six years. It will also include postgraduate assessments to qualify as an attorney.
Apprenticeships in legal services are a relatively new concept. However, many law firms are introducing them as a way for students to learn while they earn. These programs allow a person to become a lawyer after completing a specific number of years working as a legal apprentice. The work could include being an apprentice for an attorney or a supervising judge.
There are some states, including Maine and New York, that still require a person to complete some law school. That, when coupled with a legal apprenticeship, may qualify them to become a lawyer.
In some ways, working as a legal apprentice can be seen as a shortcut to becoming a lawyer. However, this does not mean that things are easy. You still need dedication and to put forth the same level of effort you would if you were going to law school. It is a lot of work, but the results might make the work worth it.
Working as a Legal Secretary
A legal secretary plays a crucial role in making a law office work. They have a deep understanding of legal proceedings and documentation. High-performing legal secretaries will eventually become paralegals or take on other similar positions within the law firm.
A legal secretary is going to support lawyers and paralegals. Most legal secretaries directly interact with clerical personnel, courtroom staff members, attorneys, clients, and expert witnesses. They need to have specialized computer skills when working with software created for the legal field.
A legal secretary’s job is going to include traditional secretarial jobs, like answering the phone, creating spreadsheets, taking messages, and preparing law documents. Legal secretaries must be exceptionally organized, personable, self-disciplined, and able to take on a broad range of assignments daily.
Legal secretaries must have the mental fortitude to work under stress. They need to be people persons because their job constantly requires them to interact with the public. It could be face-to-face conversations, email communications, videoconferencing, and more.
Legal secretaries must be good at written communication. They are the ones who write the first drafts of memos or correspondence. They proofread legal documents, including pleadings and briefs. Legal secretaries also interact with management and maintain paper and electric files. They keep the area they work in organized by setting up appointments, keeping track of deadlines, and maintaining a detailed calendar.
There are several steppingstone jobs that can help a person who wants to become an attorney. These jobs help you learn about the law and earn money as you learn.