What Are Some Popular Legal Careers?

There are several popular careers in the legal field. Lean more about three of these careers including salary, job outlook, needed skills and typical work environments. Schools offering Criminal Justice degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overviews

The legal field offers several popular and fast-paced career options. Below are summaries of the responsibilities, requirements, job outlooks and salary statistics for lawyers, paralegals and legal secretaries.

Important Facts About These Occupations

LawyerParalegalLegal Secretary
Median Salary (2014)$55.27/hour or $114,970/year $23.24/hour or $48,350/year $20.56/hour or $42,770/year
Job Outlook (2012-2022)10% 17%12%
Key Skills Analytical thinking, reading and writing skills, problem solving skills, interpersonal skills, and research skillsCommunication, computer skills, research, interpersonal skills, and organizational skillsKnowledge of legal terminology and documents such as summons, subpoenas, motions, and complaints; research, communication and interpersonal skills
Work EnvironmentSelf-employed, group practices, local and federal government, corporations, or financeLocal, state, or federal government, private/group practices and legal firmsGovernment offices, private/group legal practices, law libraries

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics


Lawyers, or attorneys, serve as liaisons between the general public and the legal system. They counsel and represent clients in criminal and civil matters, which include advising clients of their legal rights, conducting interviews and research, and going to trial when necessary. Lawyers often choose to specialize in an area such as business, environmental or international law. Becoming an attorney requires approximately seven years of postsecondary education, including a bachelor's degree and Juris Doctor (J.D.), which is earned in a law school. Lawyers also must earn licensure from their state bar associations. In order to find a job, students may wish to consider taking the bar examination in states other than their home state.


Paralegals, sometimes called legal assistants, do preparatory work on closings, hearings and trials and assist in drafting and preparing a variety of legal documents. More than 70% of paralegals worked for law firms in 2012, according to the BLS, with many of the remainder employed by government agencies. To become a paralegal, individuals must hold an associate or bachelor's degree in paralegal studies.

Legal Secretary

Legal secretaries perform duties like answering phones, filing, typing and research. They also have advanced knowledge of the legal field and are familiar with legal terminology and procedures. No formal education is required for this career, but many community colleges and technical schools offer legal secretary training programs. Additionally, certification is available through the National Association of Legal Secretaries (www.nals.org).

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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