Careers in Constitutional Law

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in constitutional law. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and education information. Schools offering Juris Doctor degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Constitutional Lawyer Do?

Constitutional law is a multifaceted discipline offering many varied career options. You may wish to work as an attorney or paralegal, or you might pursue a career as a law school professor. Attorneys advise clients and represent them in court. They can also work for a government agency or nonprofit organization. Lawyers typically need to be able to do research, interpret laws and rulings, and present this information in written reports or in person. University instructors prepare lesson plans and deliver lessons. They need to have good communication skills to help students understand the complexities and subtleties of the law.

The following table gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Paralegal Lawyer Professor
Degree Required Bachelor's degree; paralegal certification may be required by some employers Bachelor's degree and Juris Doctorate Bachelor's degree, Juris Doctorate and Ph.D
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 8% for all paralegals and legal assistants)* 6% (for all lawyers)* 22% (for post-secondary law teachers)*
Average Salary (2015) $52,390 (for all paralegals and legal assistants)* $136,260 (for all lawyers)* $71,060 (for all post-secondary teachers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What is Constitutional Law?

Constitutional law, as its name implies, is the area of law that deals with the interpretation of the United States Constitution. According to the Supreme Court's website, since the United States possesses a living, and thus adaptable, constitution, it is often subjected to intense scrutiny (www.supremecourt.gov). As a result, the Supreme Court provides rulings, rather than opinions, on unique cases that challenge both the letter and the interpretation of the law.

The Supreme Court has the combined ability and authority to enact new legislation when human rights granted by the constitution are violated. It is also able to make determinations which may invalidate unconstitutional legislation and executive actions. Supreme Court decisions are almost always final; however, precedents have been made by constitutional amendment, which is a process that is not used very often.

What Types of Positions Are Available?

Since constitutional law is a multifaceted field, you may want to consider the types of activities you would like to perform. Other points to consider include your current education level and whether or not you'd be interested in seeking additional degrees, licenses or certifications.

You may want to become a paralegal, for example, if you are interested in legal issues but don't want to attend law school. Other positions that might relate to constitutional law include those of lawyers, judges or legal professors. You could also find a position working in a law library or being on staff at a professional legal journal or publisher.

What Are Some Specific Positions?

If you're interested in paralegal work, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that paralegals are becoming more specialized (www.bls.gov). You might work in a corporate, private or government office that specializes in immigration or labor law.

If you're interested in becoming an attorney, you may want to explore specializing in constitutional law as it relates to specific industries such as environmental protection, immigration policies or international business. Since the federal government is one of the major civilian employers, according to the BLS, you may want to explore job opportunities with the executive, judicial or legislative branch as well as the government's independent agencies.

A January 2017 search for constitutional law positions at USA Jobs revealed quite a few positions for attorneys in such offices as the Executive Office U.S. Attorneys & Office of U.S. Attorneys, the Federal Election Commission and the Office of the Special Counsel (www.usajobs.gov). Additional searches at the same site showed positions for research department assistants, writers, editors and photographers.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are a number of alternative career fields for lawyers. Judges or hearing officers are alternatives that require a doctoral degree. Most judges are appointed by politicians or elected by the public. Mediators and arbitrators work to solve problems between groups or people and keep them out of court. These positions require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree. Similar careers paths to paralegals or legal assistants include working as an administrative assistant or within the occupational health field. Both of these options typically only require an associate degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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