Legal careers offer many different careers paths that allow professionals to work in many aspects of legislative and judicial capacities. Careers options vary by areas of focus, but there are many to choose from.

Dollar for dollar, training for the world of legal careers might be one of the better educational investments out there. Not only does the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report that lawyers made a median annual salary more than three times the national average in 2013, but the job opportunities available in multiple subdisciplines and at multiple levels of education ensure a spectrum of career variety that can scarcely be matched by other professional fields.

Not only that, but the practice of professional law takes largely the same shape in various regions from coast to coast in the U.S., allowing professionals with the right training to take their career ambitions with them almost anywhere they want to go.

A broad range of jobs exist

Trial lawyers are probably what come to mind when most people think of legal careers, but there is much more depth to the discipline than that. Interested professionals can even explore employment possibilities in a good number of legal careers without taking the full plunge into law school.

Here's a table that lists a few popular knowledge areas among legal careers, a brief description of each one and their job growth numbers according to the BLS:

Career trackExpected growth 2012-22Description
Paralegal17 percentThe position typically falls into two major categories: corporate paralegal or litigation paralegal. Litigation paralegals conduct research, and retrieve and organize evidence. Corporate paralegals prepare employee contracts, draw up financial reports or monitor company protocol.
Legal assistant/aide17 percentThe duties of legal assistants and aides can vary, depending on the immediate needs of their law firm. Responsibilities may include drafting or organizing documents, creating lists of courtroom exhibits, and reviewing reference material for internal use by the firm's lawyers.
Criminal justice5-15 percentEducation and training in legal matters help detectives, federal agents, parole officers, criminologists, forensic investigators and other criminal justice professionals do their jobs. In turn, studying criminal justice provides perspective on the day-to-day tasks of many legal careers.
Contracts administrator12 percentContracts administration fits in almost as well among business careers as it does the legal field. Contract administrators often have legal training and typically work with private firms or government agencies to ensure that contracts are properly managed, organized and negotiated.


As you can see, many legal careers don't require the full commitment of time and money that a years-long stint in law school typically takes. If you're interested in the legal profession, check out the legal careers that can help you get your foot in the door and discover first-hand if the field is right for you, either through our detailed breakdowns or via our online schools for law.


Laws too gentle are seldom obeyed; too severe, seldom executed.

-Benjamin Franklin


1. Lawyers, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Legal/Lawyers.htm
2. Administrative Service Managers, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/administrative-services-managers.htm
3. Paralegals and Legal Assistants, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Legal/Paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm
4. Police and Detectives, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Protective-Service/Police-and-detectives.htm#tab-7
5. "Words of Justice," Harvard Law Library Online, http://library.law.harvard.edu/justicequotes/explore-the-room/north-2/, accessed April 3, 2015.