11 Careers You Can Pursue with a Law Degree

Close-up of a statue of Lady Justice with a businessman in the background

After binge-reading detective novels over the winter months, watching all the film adaptations of John Grisham novels and catching reruns of old Law and Order and Homicide episodes from the 1990s, you are considering a career in law.

You may be still considering a career after high school or college, or you might be thinking about transitioning to an entirely new profession. Whatever the case, law careers are some of the best to be in.

Of course, the very first thing you need to do is enrol in law school, graduate and obtain your law degree. The next thing is to think about what to do with a law degree.

The default option is to become an attorney, but there’s an abundance of employment opportunities that are also non-law. So, you can earn your JD in the US or your LLB in the UK and turn your attention to lecturing, consulting or writing.

Here are 11 careers you can pursue with a law degree.

1. Lawyer

Average salary: $141,890 / £69,180

The obvious go-to career choice for anyone who graduates with a law degree is that of a lawyer. Students generally have an idea of what they want to specialise in before they graduate, but there is always the option of working or owning a general practice that permits you to handle a diverse array of cases. That said, when you want something a bit more specific, then it is better to home in on particular areas of the law, including corporate, patent, tax, real estate and personal injury law.

What is the one thing that these have in common? Money. Ostensibly, legal subjects that concentrate on pecuniary issues tend to yield higher earning potential for lawyers that handle these matters.

2. Paralegal

Average salary: $49,500 / £27,660

Being a paralegal is a rewarding and critical position in any law office, corporation or governmental agency. This position performs legal work that the lawyer is responsible for to prepare him or her for their case. Since paralegals take on much of the legwork, they require substantive knowledge of the law and legal procedures, which is attained through education and training.

Put simply, you still have a career in law, but you don’t have the pressures that a typical lawyer faces.

3. Legal Secretary

Average salary: $43,920 / £22,490

Oftentimes, a legal secretary is incorrectly equated with paralegals, much in the same way that paralegals are misidentified as legal assistants. But a legal secretary has differing functions on a day-to-day basis, though they are sometimes described as a legal assistant so law firms can bill their clients appropriately.

So, what is a legal secretary? This person prepares and files legal documents, such as appeals or motions. A legal secretary will further local relevant and pertinent information for cases. Larger practices will also transfer some managerial responsibilities to a legal secretary, especially if they have been with the organisation for several years.

4. Lecturer

Average salary: $75,280 / £58,920

In the UK, a fixed-term lecturer is someone who teaches academic and vocational subjects to undergraduate and postgraduate students, teaching the theories, requirements and criteria of the curriculum. The equivalent in the US is that of a professor or assistant professor without tenure – many universities will also refer to graduate students in law departments as sessional lecturers.

5. Management Consultant

Average salary: $77,810 / £47,740

In the business world, a management consultant is critical to help a company better run their business more effectively and efficiently. It is an important service for any private firm that has fallen on hard times from inefficient and inept management, whether because of changing economic landscapes or a team unable to balance the books.

Think it’s just an enterprise requiring these services? Think again.

Management consultants also work with law firms by extending a series of frameworks, models, systems and techniques to allow lawyers to better their practices. This consists of accounting, organising, bookkeeping, human resources and a whole host of other issues that everyday law practices face. Consulting is one of those indirect jobs in law, but you’re still bathing in the Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen (Fountain of Justice).

6. Compliance Officer

Average salary: $71,540 / £29,750

With governments slapping even more rules and regulations onto businesses, it can be difficult to comply. Should you fail at meeting these standards, then your firm could be fined or even shut down. As a result, your company needs a compliance officer, which is someone who ensures that your entity institutes and maintains policies and procedures that work within the regulatory framework.

Remember: even if your federal, state/provincial or municipal governments are slashing regulations, there are already thousands of established rules that you need to follow. Since the owner is concentrating on keeping the doors of the company open, a compliance officer becomes one of the most important figures of the business.

7. Law Librarian

Average salary: $84,800 / £56,500

A law library is a treasure trove of books, documents and other facets of legal history to better inform you of the law. With this house of law, you can properly research past cases, precedents established by judges and important historical accounts of the justice system and its evolution. This special library is utilised by students, attorneys, law clerks, judges, politicians and anyone else affiliated with the law.

But who makes this all possible? A law librarian.

Law librarians act in the same capacity as other librarians you have come across in your life, whether in school or at the local government-owned facility. They will help you locate information, navigate collections and take out books. That said, law librarians can also work in schools and firms to record, organise and manage their own matters.

8. Legal Writer / Editor

Average salary: $68,690 / £35,330

First, there are two types of legal writers: the news writer and the brief writer. The former will report or analyse on any current event issues that deal with the law, from a murder trial to a political scandal to legal troubles for a multinational corporation. The latter, meanwhile, will conduct research and draft legal documents, such as briefs, motions and memorandums, for clients.

Second, legal editors can complete a variety of tasks, such as copyediting, content editing, proofreading and fact-checking. These duties can be performed for news writing and brief writing.

9. Lobbyist

Average salary: $89,700 / £46,000

It is true that lobbyists have a bad reputation. They are blamed for everything wrong in politics today. But as the data and facts show, there is a lot of misrepresentation of what lobbyists do.

So, first, what is a lobbyist? This is someone who acts in the interest of a client to influence public policy by engaging with legislators or members of regulatory agencies. However, contrary to popular opinion, a lobbyist doesn’t just drop a pile of cash in front of a politician who was anti-something yesterday but pro-something today. Oftentimes, lobbyists will work with someone who was already sympathetic to the lobbyist client’s side. Yes, there are exceptions to the rule, but this is generally how it works.

10. Policy Analyst

Average salary: $67,690 / £33,280

Policy analysts are integral to legislative bodies, large corporations and non-profit organisations. These professionals will devise policies, provide advice to legislators or senior management and brief individuals close to the matter. Another facet is gathering data and using research to either better understand or persuade public opinion.

Experts further contend that policy analysts will spend a bulk of their time consulting with people who have something at stake in the initiative.

11. Electronic Document Discovery Agent

Average salary: $57,000 / £33,810

In a world where everything is stored on an electronic device – messages, important documents, crucial data, contracts, files and databases – it has become an important function to uncover these documents. Believe it or not, there is a whole profession dedicated to this task – and law firms are scooping these folks up.

Electronic document discovery agents not only uncover and collect these files, but they also identify, preserve and review this electronically stored information for litigation purposes. From criminal court cases to cross-border dispute resolution, e-discovery clerks are now imperative team members.

Where is the next John Grisham novel about these professionals?

The legal profession remains one of the most rewarding and exciting industries to be involved in. Sure, not every day is like an episode of Law and Order or one of those detective movies from the golden age of cinema, but it can still be invigorating to get your man, to help a down-and-out family or to ensure justice has been served.

You don’t just have to be a lawyer to achieve these things. You can contribute in so many different ways – directly and indirectly – that will make certain the scales of justice balance out.

What other careers are you surprised didn’t make it on the list? Let us know in the comments section below!