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Careers in Law Without Being a Lawyer

February 15, 2024
5 min read


Reviewed by:

David Merson

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 2/15/24

Law school isn’t for everyone, but if law is still your dream career field, read on to find out more about careers in law without being a lawyer. 

The process of becoming a lawyer is extensive.

You’ll need to complete a four-year bachelor’s while maintaining a high GPA and be constantly involved with your local and school community. You’ll then have to apply to competitive legal programs, get through and excel in law school and write the bar exam. After that, you’ll have to stand out as an employee against hundreds of other applicants. 

Even after completing this process, a career as a lawyer isn’t exactly a walk in the park. Lawyers are constantly under pressure, expected to work long hours, and often deal with emotionally taxing cases.

If this lifestyle doesn’t sound like the right fit for you, but you’re still interested in joining the legal field, there are luckily several other options for you to consider! This list will go over some of the most popular non-lawyer legal jobs for law enthusiasts! 

10 Non-Lawyer Legal Jobs

Here are 10 careers to consider to get your foot into the legal world!

non-lawyer legal jobs

A Paralegal

The average paralegal’s salary is around $58,522 a year.

Paralegals are integral parts of any law firm. These professionals essentially provide any and all support to the law firm or lawyer they work with. Their roles may include some of the same responsibilities lawyers perform, such as legal research, conversing with clients gathering evidence, and filing briefs.

In order to become a paralegal, you must complete an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or post-bachelor’s certification in paralegal studies. Depending on the education you choose to pursue, it’ll take approximately one to four years to become a paralegal.

A Legal Secretary

The average salary for legal secretaries is $62,962. 

While many confuse paralegals with legal secretaries, the two perform vastly different roles!

Paralegals require some form of legal education because they perform substantive and highly technical legal work. On the other hand, legal secretaries perform more administrative duties such as transcribing, filing, and handling correspondence.

Legal secretaries do not require higher education but are recommended to have legal experience to increase their qualifications for this job. However, if you don’t have work experience - don’t give up hope. 

There are legal secretary jobs within law firms that don’t require legal experience. Some employers are open to hiring individuals with strong administrative skills and a willingness to learn. 

A Mediator

On average, these professionals make $61,310 annually

Mediators are required in every area of law, so their roles differ depending on their specialty. However, their main responsibility is to act as a neutral third party to aid in the process of dispute resolution.

Mediators listen to both sides of a dispute, identify weaknesses or areas of concern, and come up with possible solutions. While they do not ultimately determine the outcome of the dispute, they can help the parties involved make the most informed decision.

The majority of mediators have a bachelor’s degree in an area of interest that helped them develop their communication and legal skills.

It’s also recommended that mediators complete 40-hour specialization meditation programs to further enhance their skills. 

A Jury Consultant

Jury consultants get paid per job, so their salaries vary depending on their area of expertise and experience.

In certain criminal court cases, the defendants are given the right to a jury trial. This jury must be impartial and fair as they listen to both sides of the case to determine a verdict. 

Choosing a fair jury can be difficult, which is where jury consultants come into play. These professionals gather information on potential jurors, create juror profiles, and help the attorney choose jurors.

Jury consultants may also provide suggestions on how to present information to jurors, help lawyers create their opening and closing statements, and advise them on how to share complex information with the jury. 

To become a jury consultant, you will typically only need a bachelor’s degree and work experience to qualify for this career. Degrees involving law and/or psychology, like a B.A. in Forensic Psychology, are recommended.

A Compliance Officer

The average salary for compliance officers is around $74,032 a year. 

While compliance officers don’t typically work in courtrooms or law firms, their main responsibility still entails ensuring others uphold the law. Compliance officers work in corporations where they ensure the organization and employees within it follow all internal and external rules.

Compliance officers typically hold a bachelor’s degree in a subject related to their desired area of employment, such as business, accounting, or health sciences. Master’s degrees in Compliance Management and Risk are also popular for those wishing to gain more advanced training and open more doors for themselves.

A Title Examiner

Title examiners earn approximately $59,445 a year. 

If you have an interest in real estate law in general, becoming a title examiner might be the right career for you.

Title examiners assist lawyers in determining the legal status of properties and finding any restrictions on them.

While you may become a title examiner without any higher education, the majority of these professionals have a bachelor’s degree in a related field. 

A Criminologist

These legal professionals earn around $59,459 a year.

For all murder mystery fans who love learning about the intricacies of criminal law, criminology may be the perfect field for you!

Criminologists analyze evidence and data to help solve crimes and help create future policies and procedures to prevent these crimes from reoccurring. They also study criminal behavior to learn more about why crimes are committed. Criminologists spend the majority of their time in laboratories or offices, though, not actual crime scenes!

The most popular path to becoming a criminologist is to first complete a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology, Psychology, or Sociology and then a Master’s degree in Behavioral Science.

A Contract Administrator

The median salary for contract administrators is $67,621.

While lawyers can create contracts for parties to sign, a contract administrator’s sole purpose is to review, write, negotiate, and develop a contract for a particular company or organization. 

These administrators must keep all internal, local, state, and federal guidelines in mind while making these contracts to ensure there are no legal breaches.  

Many contract administrators have a background in business, either through a bachelor’s in Business or Finance or an MBA. Some also choose to pursue legal education to learn the ins and outs of the laws they have to abide by in these contracts.

A Court Reporter

The earning potential for court reporters is quite high. Their average salary is around $62,572 per year.

A great way to get into the courtroom without having the pressure of convincing a judge or jury of the defendant’s innocence or guilt is to be a court reporter. Court reporters use a variety of tools including stenotype machines, stenomasks, video and audio recordings to capture everything that is said during trials.

Court reporters must complete an accredited court reporting program and may be required to pass certain state exams before practicing.

A Bailiff

The average salary of a bailiff is $54,680. 

A final option for those interested in working in the courtroom is to become a bailiff. Bailiffs, also known as court officers, are in charge of keeping order in the courtroom and ensuring everyone’s safety. 

While some employers prefer candidates with legal education, such as a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice, experience is not always a strict requirement, making it an accessible option for newcomers to the legal field.

Essential Skills for Success in Legal Professions

Male professional reading papers on couch

To excel in the legal field, there are some essential skills you can't do without.

  • Critical Thinking: Legal professionals are frequently faced with intricate cases and complex legal issues. The ability to analyze information critically, evaluate evidence, and make well-reasoned decisions is paramount. Whether you're crafting a persuasive legal argument or assessing the merits of a case, sharp critical thinking is indispensable.
  • Research Skills: Legal work often hinges on thorough research. Whether you're preparing for a trial, drafting legal documents, or advising clients, you need to be adept at locating and comprehending legal precedents, statutes, regulations, and case law. Proficiency in using legal research tools and databases is essential.
  • Communication: Effective communication is at the heart of the legal profession. You must be able to articulate complex legal concepts clearly and persuasively, both in writing and verbally. This skill is crucial when drafting legal documents, presenting arguments in court, or negotiating with opposing parties.
  • Attention to Detail: The legal field demands precision. Legal documents, contracts, and agreements are filled with intricate details that can have significant consequences if overlooked. A keen eye for detail ensures accuracy and minimizes errors.
  • Negotiation and Mediation: Not all legal matters go to trial. In fact, many are resolved through negotiation or mediation. Legal professionals who can effectively negotiate settlements and mediate disputes are highly valuable. These skills help in finding mutually beneficial solutions, often saving time and resources.
  • Time Management: Legal professionals often handle multiple cases, each with its own set of deadlines and demands. Effective time management is essential to prioritize tasks, meet court-imposed deadlines, and provide timely legal counsel to clients.
  • Ethical Judgment: Upholding the highest ethical standards is non-negotiable in the legal profession. You must maintain integrity in all interactions, from client confidentiality to court proceedings. Ethical judgment guides your actions and ensures trust within the legal system.
  • Flexibility: The legal landscape is constantly evolving with changes in laws and regulations. Being adaptable and open to learning new legal principles and technologies is vital for staying relevant in the field.
  • Empathy: Building rapport with clients requires empathy. Understanding their concerns and needs on a personal level not only helps in providing tailored legal advice but also fosters trust and confidence in your representation.
  • Stress Management: Legal work can be high-pressure, especially during trials or critical negotiations. Effective stress management techniques, such as time management, mindfulness, and self-care, are essential for maintaining your mental and emotional well-being.
  • Teamwork: Legal professionals often collaborate with colleagues, paralegals, and support staff on cases. Being a team player and knowing how to delegate tasks efficiently enhances productivity and ensures that cases progress smoothly.
  • Resilience: The legal profession comes with its share of challenges and setbacks. Resilience enables you to bounce back from disappointments and setbacks, maintaining your commitment to your clients and your pursuit of justice.
  • Business Acumen: For those in private practice or managing legal firms, understanding the business aspects of the legal profession is crucial. This includes client management, billing practices, financial management, and business development.

To sum it up, these skills are the building blocks of success in the legal profession. Whether you aim to become a lawyer or a paralegal or take on any role in the legal field, developing these skills will not only make you more effective but also pave the way for your long-term career satisfaction and achievements.

Is a Law Degree Worth It for Non-Lawyer Legal Jobs?

female legal secretary showing documents to lawyer

While a law degree, often acquired through the LSAT and law school,  can expand your knowledge base and help you hone skills that will be beneficial in non-lawyer legal jobs, it’s generally not worth it to go through the extensive process of obtaining a law degree for these jobs.

Not only is law school expensive and challenging, but having a J.D. could make you seem overqualified for certain jobs! There are entry-level legal positions that don’t require experience and schooling that can provide a quicker path to entering the workforce and building a career in the legal field.

You’ll also be limiting your earning potential by obtaining a law degree but working a non-lawyer job since attorneys make much more than non-lawyer professionals.

FAQs: Careers in Law Without Being a Lawyer

For any more questions, read on to find your answers.

1. What Is the Easiest Law Profession?

While no legal profession is easy per se, becoming a legal secretary involves the least amount of education and technical knowledge, as these secretaries mainly perform administrative duties. It’s definitely a viable legal career without a law degree.

2. What Are Jobs Similar to a Lawyer?

A paralegal career is similar to a lawyer. Paralegals can undertake many of the same responsibilities as lawyers and have the legal training to understand the intricacies of various cases.

3. What Can I Do With a Law Degree if I Don’t Want to Become a Lawyer? 

One popular option that will put your law degree to use is becoming a law professor! Law professors are required to have a legal degree, a master’s, and usually a Ph.D. as well. A law degree will also help you in roles like a compliance officer, where you must know how to follow various rules and regulations. 

4. What Is the Difference Between a Paralegal and a Legal Assistant?

Paralegals and legal assistants are the same and have identical responsibilities. Legal secretaries, however, are different and perform more administrative duties. 

Final Thoughts

While people always think of lawyers when discussing legal careers, there are several other options for law enthusiasts to consider. Whether you go to law school, take the bar exam, or explore alternative pathways in the legal field, the opportunities are diverse and can lead to fulfilling careers.

The top 10 careers in law listed in this guide can help you figure out your calling and get you one step closer to determining and actualizing your dream career!

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