There are a number of jobs which you can enter into if you go into the field of law. Lawyer is the most obvious choice, but you could also choose to become a judge, mediator, hearing officer, paralegal, legal assistant, or postsecondary teacher passing on your knowledge to others. Jobs in law tend to pay very well, which makes this an attractive field in more ways than one.
The high salary made by most lawyers is one of the primary attractions to this career field, but it should not be your only reason for wanting to go the legal route. You should be passionate about enforcing justice and helping to rehabilitate members of society who have gone astray. Those who are best suited to legal positions will be adept at weighing information and coming to fair judgments. Being able to deal with high stress situations and environment is an important aspect of this job, as is being able to handle difficult emotions.
Most lawyers spend the majority of their time working in legal offices. Some lawyers work for the government. Lawyers, judges, and other legal officials may spend a significant amount of time in the courtroom. If you teach law, you’ll work in a postsecondary classroom. Lawyers and judges generally work full time, and may work a good deal of overtime.
The median annual salary for lawyers in 2010 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) was $112,760 per year. The median annual salary for judges, mediators, and hearing officers was $91,880. Paralegals and legal assistants made an average of $46,680 per year, and postsecondary teachers made an average of $62,050 per year.
Openings for lawyers are appearing about as fast as average, while openings for judges and other court officials are appearing more slowly than average. New jobs for paralegals and legal assistants are opening up a little faster, but still close to the national average for all jobs.
To become a lawyer, you will need a four-year bachelor’s degree followed by three years of law school. You will need to also pass a bar examination. The requirements vary by state. Note that there is no such thing as a “pre-law” degree. Most lawyers major in English or History for their undergraduate degree, but there is no requirement here. You can major in anything and still get into law school if you achieve high enough marks and meet the other requirements. Judges and other court officials usually work as lawyers before they attain their new positions. Sometimes judges are appointed by election.