The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports in its Occupational Outlook Handbook that competition for jobs in the legal field will remain strong as more students graduate from law school than there are jobs available. BLS also projects that the employment of lawyers will grow 6% from 2018 to 2028, with 50,100 new jobs created in that decade.
Other jobs within the legal field are also growing. The BLS projects employment of paralegals and legal assistants will grow 12% between 2018 to 2028, which is much faster than average. Mediator and conciliator jobs are projected to grow at a rate of 8% during the same time frame.
Demand for lawyers is expected to rise in the upcoming years. The BLS found that the average salary in 2018 for people in the legal industry, from paralegals to lawyers to court reporters, was $80,810.
Legal Industry Jobs
When you think of the legal industry, it's probably judges and lawyers that pop into your head. But there are far more roles available in the industry than those. There are many people involved in the court system, from advocates to clerks to transcriptionists. Here's a list of some of the most popular positions in the legal industry, along with some job descriptions.
These are some of the first jobs that pop into people's heads when they think of people who work in law.
- Arbitrator: If both parties agree, an arbitrator can help settle a legal disagreement directly between parties, instead of going through the court system.
- Attorney: Also known as lawyers, attorneys are advocates for their clients' rights. This can involve everything from offering advice to creating or reviewing contracts to representing clients in court.
- Case manager: These roles are largely administrative. Case managers track paperwork, dates, and other important information about a case. This legwork helps attorneys focus on big-picture strategies.
- Jury consultant: Jury consultants, also known as trial consultants, help lawyers choose a jury that's likely to return a verdict in their favor. They also prep witnesses, evaluate deposition transcripts, and organize mock trials.
- Law firm administrator: The person in this role oversees day-to-day operations for a firm.
- Legal analyst: These specialists work alongside lawyers. They may conduct research, gather evidence, or otherwise help attorneys build a case.
- Legal services director: Legal services directors usually work for large organizations that include a legal department. They lead the legal department as it works toward the larger goals of the organization.
- Mediator: Unlike a lawyer, a mediator is a neutral third party and doesn't represent anyone person involved in a legal matter. Mediators are non-biased negotiators for all parties involved in the dispute, and they work to resolve everyone's issues and come to a mutual understanding and agreement without a judge or jury. They can work in legal administration, labor unions, and the arts, for instance. They can also specialize in a particular area, like divorce mediation.
- Paralegal: The American Association for Paralegal Education defines paralegal work as substantive and procedural legal work which would otherwise be performed by an attorney. In other words, a paralegal is far more than a lawyer's assistant or case manager. Their work includes legal research and presentations, interviewing clients, drafting legal documents, and law office administration.
These are the people you'll see working in court. Not all will take on as noticeable roles as a judge, for instance, but they're all crucial to the day-to-day operations of a courtroom.
- Bailiff: Bailiffs are officers of the court, responsible for keeping the courtroom safe. They escort people, including jurors and defendants, to and from the courtroom.
- Court advocate: A court advocate, or victim's advocate, is trained to support crime victims. They may go to court with the victim, or they may help outside of court by providing information, emotional support, access to resources, or assistance with paperwork. Some victim's advocates run crisis hotlines, organize support groups, or provide counseling.
- Court messenger: As you might expect, people in this role are responsible for getting files, documents, and evidence where it needs to go.
- Court transcriptionist: Also called a court reporter, court transcriptionists listen to oral testimony and turn it into an accurate written record. Court transcriptionists are usually stenographers who use a special machine to produce a transcript of the proceedings. However, they may also use a voice recorder which is a special mask allowing for narration into a computer that uses speech recognition software to create a transcript.
- Judge: The judge presides over the court and ensures that the case proceeds in a fair, impartial, and just manner.
- Litigation docket manager: A litigation docket manager manages an organization's litigation docket file and records. They also ensure the calendar is regularly updated. They may also oversee the docketing database or train staff to manage it.
- Magistrate: Magistrate judges are a part of the U.S. federal court system. They assist district court judges. There are also magistrate judges in state court systems, where they similarly serve a lower-level position.
Though these roles differ somewhat, they're all similar in that they involve performing administrative tasks that keep the wheels of the legal system spinning.
- Administrative assistant
- Copy center professional
- Document coder
- File clerk
- Legal aide/assistant
- Legal secretary
- Mailroom personnel
- Legal records manager
Contract Positions and Other Miscellaneous Legal Careers
- Contract administrator
- Contract analyst
- Contract drafting legal specialist
- Regulatory affairs director
- Right of way agent
- Software consultant