13 Careers in Law (Without Being a Lawyer)

13 Careers in Law (Without Being a Lawyer) was originally published on Forage.

By: Collen Clark

Interested in the legal industry but unsure about wanting to attend law school? Some of the best careers in law allow you to explore different areas of the legal sector without becoming an attorney. Legal careers like paralegal and electronic discovery involve working directly with legal teams to support trials and solve disputes. Other law careers like claims adjustment and lobbying let you put your legal interests and skills into practice to solve problems from different angles. 

But where do you start when deciding what jobs in law might be right for you? We’ve compiled 13 great legal careers with education requirements ranging from high school diplomas to full law degrees so you can understand your options and find your law career fit. 

Jobs in Law That Aren’t “Attorney” 

Claims Adjusters

Salary range: $49,000 to $75,000
Level of education required: High school diploma 

Claims adjusters, also called appraisers, examiners, or investigators, investigate the validity of insurance claims and determine who is at fault — in other words, they decide who has to pay for the claim. Claims adjusters work in all types of insurance, including auto, home, renter, and health insurance. Once a claims adjuster receives an insurance claim, they review every detail, determine precisely what happened in the situation, and decide how much (if anything) the insurance company should cover. 

While you can become a claims adjuster with a high school diploma, higher education is typically preferred. Previous experience in a legal career can also be beneficial since claims adjusters have to understand the laws surrounding and involved in insurance claims, such as health care laws when reviewing a health insurance claim. 

Compliance Officer 

Salary range: $83,000 to $143,000
Level of education required: Bachelor’s degree

Compliance offices and analysts work internally at businesses and corporations, ensuring the company meets all legal regulations and requirements. The day-to-day tasks of compliance officers involve identifying risk, communicating between the company and regulatory authorities, keeping employees trained and up to date on rules, and drafting internal policies alongside legal teams. 

Experience in law is particularly useful for compliance officers since they need to read and understand complex rules and requirements — especially in highly-regulated industries like banking and health care. However, compliance officers work in virtually every area, including finance, technology, and automotive manufacturing. (Check out our guide to Ford internships!) 

You typically need a bachelor’s degree to become a compliance officer. Additionally, certifications can help you become more marketable. The Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics offers general certifications, while industries with strict regulations often have separate certifications.

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Contract Administrator

Salary range: $53,000 to $83,000
Level of education required: Bachelor’s degree

At the crossroads of business administration and legal careers, contract administrators manage contracts at every stage of the process. The types of contracts these specialists work on include employment contracts, real estate sales or rental contracts, and various business contracts involved with selling or purchasing goods and services. A contract administrator typically handles negotiations between the parties, prepares the contract, reviews details with each party, and adjusts the contract to fit client needs. Additionally, contract administrators must update existing contracts and may sometimes act as mediators in contract disputes. 

While you can become a contract administrator with a bachelor’s degree, pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) may be helpful for career advancement. Additionally, experience in a law career can be beneficial, especially when working with particularly complex contracts or in highly regulated industries. 

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Court Reporter

Salary range: $40,000 to $62,000
Level of education required: Associate degree

Court reporters, also called court stenographers, create exact records of legal proceedings, such as depositions, trials, and meetings. These court records must be verbatim transcriptions since legal cases often rely heavily on semantics and language. Court reporters are responsible for proofreading and editing the documents they create for accuracy and communicating with all relevant parties to ensure they can access the transcripts.

Understanding legal and technical terminology is essential for maintaining accuracy when proofreading. In certain jurisdictions, court reporters may need certifications through the National Court Reporters Association or state court regulatory bodies. 

Electronic Discovery Specialist

Salary range: $56,000 to $99,000
Level of education required: Associate in paralegal studies or relevant bachelor’s degree

Electronic discovery specialists, or E-discovery specialists, work closely with lawyers and legal professionals, managing relevant electronic documents. An e-discovery specialist is responsible for researching electronic documents for court cases. These documents can include social media records, email correspondences, and digital images. As an integral part of the modern legal team, e-discovery specialists help draft policies to ensure legal teams comply with federal regulations on electronic data storage. Additionally, these specialists act as a go-between for the legal team, records management people, and information technology professionals. 

Legal assistants, paralegals, and even lawyers may pursue roles in E-discovery through certification. The most commonly sought-after certifications are from the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists and the Culler certifications from Logikcull

>>MORE: Considering a tech-focused job? Find out what tech career is right for you with our free quiz. 

Human Resource Manager

Salary range: $80,000 to $125,000
Level of education required: Bachelor’s degree in human resources

Human resource (HR) managers are responsible for conducting interviews, hiring people, managing workplace policies, and maintaining a company culture. As professionals who oversee entire workforces, HR managers need to understand their industry’s legal regulations and all employment and labor laws. Typical duties of HR managers include managing salary and benefits programs and supporting business goals through employee engagement, development, and motivation. 

You typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in human resources to become an HR professional. However, managers often have several years of experience, too. A legal background in employment law can be beneficial, especially for large corporations or those with complex human capital structures. 

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Jury Consultant

Salary range: $107,000 to $188,000
Level of education required: Bachelor’s degree

Jury consultants are behavioral scientists working a law job. A jury consultant advises legal teams on interacting with (and choosing) jurors for trials. They use mock trials and surveys to gather data about potential jurors and demographics. This data guides attorneys’ narratives and arguments at trial. Jury consultants must have a deep understanding of how humans behave to predict how potential jurors will react and respond to details of trials. 

A previous background in law is vital since jury consultants also help lawyers build cases based on the most favorable outcome found through their jury research. These consultants are typically independent contractors with knowledge in both psychology and law. A bachelor’s degree in areas like forensic psychology or studying both law and psychology at different points in time can be a great advantage. 

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Legal Assistant

Salary range: $43,000 to $63,000
Level of education required: Associate degree in paralegal studies or a bachelor’s degree 

Legal assistants support attorneys and law offices with administrative tasks. Much of a legal assistant’s day-to-day involves organizing files, preparing documents, scheduling meetings, communicating with clients and courts, and keeping attorneys in the loop. While a legal assistant can help with legal research and filing legal documents, they can’t represent clients in court or provide legal advice. 

Many legal assistants pursue associate degrees in paralegal studies or bachelor’s degrees in fields like pre-law, criminology, political science, or paralegal studies. Additionally, legal assistants can seek certifications through state bar associations or the National Association for Legal Support Professionals

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Legal Consultant 

Salary range: $93,000 to $170,000
Level of education required: Law degree 

Legal consultants offer strategic advice and guidance to businesses and individuals to help them navigate complicated situations, like real estate transactions, contract negotiations, and determining health care fraud. Unlike attorneys, legal consultants don’t represent their clients in court or aid in litigation. 

Depending on the jurisdiction and type of consulting, you may need to pass the bar exam to work as a legal consultant. Many legal consultants are lawyers who transitioned into consulting, but becoming a legal consultant without being licensed to practice law is possible. 

What is business consulting?

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Salary range: $94,000 to $170,000
Level of education required: Varies

Lobbyists work for the general public, organizations, nonprofits, or private individuals to influence legislation. Typically, a lobbyist meets with congresspeople and constituents to sway voting and legislative decisions. Lobbyists usually have extensive experience or knowledge in a specific area they lobby for. For instance, those with many years of experience in technology may lobby for causes and organizations related to tech and tech regulations. 

A law background can be particularly helpful as lobbyists need to be persuasive and often help write legislation alongside politicians. Additionally, lobbying is all about who you know — networking is key.  

Salary ranges for lobbyists depend on the type of organization or cause they work for. While large-scale causes tend to have bigger budgets for lobbyists, more grassroots-style campaigns may not. Additionally, there isn’t a specific degree requirement to become a lobbyist — experience is the most essential qualification. 

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Salary range: $64,000 to $119,000 
Level of education required: Bachelor’s degree

Mediators are neutral third-party professionals who help parties navigate and settle complex disputes. Also called arbitrators or conciliators, mediators often have specific industry knowledge that makes them particularly useful on certain cases. For instance, conflicting parties and courts may seek those with significant real estate experience to mediate real estate transaction disputes. 

Many mediators are retired lawyers or judges, while others are volunteers who have completed a training program. Ultimately, a mediator cannot give legal advice, but they can help both parties understand the conflict better and point people in the right direction for additional resources if needed. Some mediators volunteer in civil courts to handle conflicts like small claims, landlord-tenant disputes, and civil issues. Others work as contractors on larger-scale cases, like disputes between corporations or international entities. 

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Salary range: $52,000 to $78,000
Level of education required: Associate in paralegal studies

Paralegals are similar to legal assistants, but they typically have a deeper understanding of the law and more experience in the industry. 

“Paralegals use their knowledge of the law to perform various legal tasks for lawyers, such as drafting legal documents, conducting legal research, and attending client interviews,” says Collen Clark, lawyer and founder of Schmidt & Clark LLP.

Some paralegals have completed pre-law, have a bachelor’s degree in law, or are considering law school. 

“It’s important to note that certification requirements can vary by state,” says Clark. “So, it’s crucial to research the specific requirements in your area.”

>>MORE: Check out the top law firms for 2024.

Title Examiner

Salary range: $53,000 to $82,000
Level of education required: High school diploma

Title examiners (also known as abstractors and searchers) research and analyze legal and insurance documents to determine the rightful owner of properties. 

These professionals “research real estate records, titles, and insurance records,” says Ben Michael, attorney at Michael & Associates. The goal is to determine the legal status of a property, which informs whether someone has the right to buy, sell, or develop on it. 

“It’s a research-heavy position but an important one,” says Michael.

While a high school diploma is the minimum educational requirement, employers generally prefer college degrees. Most title examiners pursue majors like finance or accounting, and a law background can help you understand legal documents more fully. 

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Tips for Landing Legal Careers 

Choose the Right Education

You don’t need to go to law school to find a great career in law. Many roles only require bachelor’s degrees, while you only need a high school diploma for others. 

Going to law school can still be a great option, especially for those who have many years of experience in one industry or another. Adding a law degree to extensive and in-demand industry experience can lead to some exciting and rewarding legal careers. 

Network With Professionals

Regardless of the industry, networking is always crucial for landing a job. 

Clark recommends students “make contact with individuals whose careers pique their interest. Inquire about their backgrounds, the difficulties they’ve faced, and the aspects of their jobs they find enjoyable.”

By speaking with lawyers, claims adjusters, paralegals, and other legal professionals, you’ll be able to learn more about the day-to-day job and determine if it’s something you’d enjoy. Additionally, these connections can be extremely valuable when searching for a job later. 

>>MORE: Learn how to network virtually!

Explore Law Careers Through Experiences 

“I recommend taking advantage of volunteer and internship opportunities,” says Clark. “They are invaluable for obtaining firsthand knowledge.” 

Internships and volunteer opportunities also provide a way to make new connections and determine what areas of law you like. 

Another way to explore legal careers is through online internships and virtual job simulations. These give you the freedom to build skills and learn about the industry without taking too much time from your already-busy schedule. 

>>MORE: Hear from five attorneys on how they found their path to law.

Hone Your Skills

Successfully landing a career in law requires having the right skills. Some of the most crucial skills for lawyers and legal professionals include: 

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Types of Law and Legal Careers for Lawyers

If you do decide law school is the right path for you, there are multiple types of legal careers and specializations you can pursue, such as:

  • Corporate law
  • Commercial law
  • Civil and political rights law
  • Immigration law
  • Criminal law
  • Personal injury law
  • Intellectual property law
  • Real estate law
  • Tax law
  • Employment and labor law
  • Constitutional law
  • Environmental and natural resources law

Start building your legal skills and explore your law career options with Forage’s free law job simulations.

An article by Collen Clark, https://www.schmidtandclark.com/

The post 13 Careers in Law (Without Being a Lawyer) appeared first on Forage.