People often equate the legal field to just lawyers. They couldn’t be more wrong, though.
A law firm comprises different employees in managerial, professional, administrative, and other support roles. Paralegals and legal secretaries are perhaps the two most well-known, non-lawyer career paths, although there are also others like medical professional legal consultants and legal investigators, trial consultants, and mediators that have a significant working population.
You can find many satisfying and high-earning legal career opportunities that don’t require a law degree or as intensive educational requirements.
Change Careers with No Experience
It’s possible to enter the legal field without any experience and still come out on top. You can choose from a variety of programs ranging from paralegal certifications and specialization courses to private investigator courses and legal nurse consultant training.
These law-related certificate courses and intensive programs allow you to learn the basics and prepare yourself to take on a supporting role in law firms around the country. The surge in caseloads (in both civil and criminal appeals) has led to the robust demand for talented and reliable legal professionals.
Skills and Qualities Required for a Legal Career
Regardless of which legal profession you pursue, there are several core legal skills you should have to do well.
- Communication skills. Anyone wishing to succeed in a law-related profession needs strong oral and written communication skills. You should be able to convey information in a clearly, concisely, and logically. It’s important to have a good grasp of legal terminology and a mastery of the English language, too.
- Analytical and logical reasoning. You’ll need to take in and review a substantial amount of information even when playing a supporting role in a case. Logical thinking, deductive and inductive reasoning, and problem-solving abilities are prized in the legal field.
- Time management and organization. Legal professionals put a significant emphasis on time management and productivity due to law firms’ “billable hour” model. You need to have (or develop) multitasking skills, a strong work ethic, and ownership of your responsibilities.
More than Paralegals and Legal Secretaries
The paralegal profession isn’t the only fast-growing and highly lucrative career in the legal field. If you feel being a paralegal (or legal secretary) doesn’t align with your needs, career goals, or skill set, you can explore other opportunities.
- E-discovery professional. A career as an electronic discovery professional is ideal if you’re tech-savvy. As an e-discovery professional, your tasks would include identifying, preserving, and managing electronically stored information (ESI). This profession is expected to grow significantly thanks to the continued development of technology and the advent of the digital age.
- Legal nurse consultant. If you’ve had previous experience in the nursing or medical field, then you can smoothly transition into a legal career as a legal nurse consultant. Advising lawyers on medical-related law issues or cases can earn you up to $200 per hour.
- Jury consultant. It’s important to get insight into juror behavior once a case goes to trial, especially when the stakes are high. As a jury consultant, you’ll help lawyers develop their arguments and strategize how to get the jury to see your side of the case in mock trials. Jury consultants also help lawyers understand and predict juror disposition using empirical data, analytical thinking, and deductive reasoning.
Remember, lawyers may be the ones bringing in prestige and more clients to the company, but they can’t commit to their role fully without the help of other legal professionals in the firm. Supporting roles in the legal field are essential to the work that lawyers do and, as a bonus, you don’t need a law degree to take on the job.