A Lucrative and Rewarding Career in Legal Services

The stability and growth potential of employment in legal services attracts many job seekers to the profession, but employment in this field offers opportunities beyond traditional jobs like legal secretaries and law clerks. With short training schedules and impressive earnings potential, work as a stenographer or paralegal is the perfect jumping-off point for a career in legal services.

Common Employment Types for Legal Services

Paralegals: Anyone who wants to play a vital role in the legal realm yet who isn't interested in becoming a lawyer may want to consider the work of a paralegal. These legal assistants provide support to lawyers in the form of organizing trial papers, conducting legal research, and even drafting legal motions to help with heavy case loads.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for paralegals will increase by around 17% in the next decade, which is faster than the average for all professions in the country. Additionally, the BLS estimates median pay for paralegals at a healthy $46,990. Employment as a paralegal is available with an associate's degree or professional certificate.

Stenographers: Often called court reporters, stenographers provide an essential role in the courtroom by providing a written record of what was said during different legal proceedings. Stenographers may work as direct employees of the court or as a stenographer-for-hire for defendants who request a transcript of a court proceeding. Stenographers may also work in closed meetings where a deposition or testimony must be recorded.

One of the best features of court reporting is that the BLS estimates median pay of over $48,000 per year, and the only education required for this legal service job is a postsecondary non-degree award, such as a professional certificate.

Recent Expansion in Legal Work

An interesting story from "Legal Rebels" boasts of recent expansion in the legal field with new job titles starting to show up at standard law firms. For example, job seekers with social skills who might have a background in public relations might seek employment as a client relations professional. These legal coordinators ensure fair treatment of clients as well as smooth transitions for retiring lawyers and newly hired professionals at the firm.

Getting the Training Required for Work

For future legal professionals who wish to train to become a paralegal, it's important to find a school that's approved by the American Bar Association. The ABA provides a list of approved paralegal education programs across the country. In addition, the ABA encourages students to join as a student associate, which provides valuable networking opportunities while in school.

The United States Military also offers training as specialists in legal services, which offers another avenue for training and work in the legal industry. For example, the Marine Corps offers employment as a legal services specialist, which features work in most areas of legal support except for court reporting.

The Navy also offers training through the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General's Corps program where enlisted members will take classes at the Naval Justice School. The training received while serving in the military translates well to legal work in civilian jobs after service.

Additionally, job seekers who wish to find training for becoming a court reporter or stenographer will want to find a program approved by the National Court Reporters Association. The NCRA offers listings for schools around the United States as well as some locations in Canada.

Some programs that provide training in legal services offer online learning components, which may prove extremely useful for students already working who need to attend classes at alternative hours. In addition, students who wish to work as court reporters may need to look into getting licensed as a Certified Court Reporter (CCR), which requires passing a state-approved test.

Finding the Jobs

One of the interesting features of legal services jobs is that overall the industry is growing faster than jobs for lawyers. The BLS expects jobs for lawyers to grow by around 10% over the next decade while professions like paralegals may expect growth closer to 17%. Not only is employment very available in several positions throughout legal services, but potential income is high.

Networking and finding internships during training may help locate jobs, and a few national associations exist that may also offer simple ways to find available jobs. Students may want to join The Association for Legal Career Professionals (NALP) and search their Public Service Jobs Directory.

In addition, there are other legal associations that exist which also provide valuable networking opportunities, fellowships, and job listings. For example, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) offers resources and job listings for members and legal professionals.

The legal profession is a dynamic industry that changes every year. Job seekers, students, or anyone who wishes to enter the legal profession will enjoy the continuously changing and vibrant legal field.