Natural Resources and Energy Law

Find out career options for working in the field of natural resources and energy law. Get salary and job growth information for paralegals and lawyers, in addition to educational requirements for these professions.

Is a Career in Natural Resource and Energy Law for Me?

Career Overview

Natural resource and energy law deals with the regulation of resource extraction, energy creation methods and energy consumption. If you study natural resource and energy laws, you can work for large companies, government agencies or non-profit organizations. One of the most common occupations in natural resource and energy law is the position of attorney, but you can also work as a paralegal, teacher or researcher.

Employment Outlook and Salary Statistics

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the number of jobs for lawyers is projected to increase by 10% between 2012 and 2022, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations (www.bls.gov). You may face strong competition for lawyer positions due to the high volume of students graduating from law school.

The BLS stated that paralegals and legal assistants would experience an employment increase of 17% during the 2012-2022 decade. As of 2012, paralegals earned a median annual income of $46,990, and lawyers earned $113,530.

How Can I Work in Natural Resource and Energy Law?

Undergraduate Education

Most employers prefer to hire paralegals who possess an associate's degree in paralegal studies. If you already have a degree, a paralegal certificate program can give you the necessary skills to work as paralegal in natural resource and energy law. Courses in a paralegal certificate program may include legal research, corporate law and paralegal ethics.

Law School

You need to be prepared for extensive postsecondary education if you are considering work as a lawyer. After you obtain a bachelor's degree, you need to obtain a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree in order to become a lawyer. All accredited law schools require you to take the Law School Admission Test before you can be admitted to a law program. Some schools may offer internship opportunities with non-profit organizations related to natural resources, such as the Nation Resources Defense Council and the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund.

Graduate Programs

You can enroll in a Master of Laws (LL.M.) program that specializes in natural resource and energy law after you obtain a J.D. degree. A LL.M. degree in natural resource law can lead to job opportunities at law firms, government agencies and non-profit organizations. You can take a variety of courses tailored to your chosen area of study in natural resources and energy, such as sustainable energy law, land conservation law and water law.

A master's degree in environmental law may be a good option if you would rather work as a teacher or researcher. Master's degrees can also benefit lawyers who want to learn more about natural resource and energy law. Graduate certificate programs are also available to students who already have a J.D. and want to learn more about natural resource laws without committing to a master's program.

Certification

Although certification is not typically required by employers, the National Association of Legal Assistants offers Certified Legal Assistant and Certified Paralegal designations. In order to qualify, you'll need to have the appropriate education and work experience; you'll also need to pass an exam.

Necessary Skills

Lawyers are adept at written and oral communication and have skills in negotiation and persuasion. Paralegals need to be skilled at researching and using computer applications.

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