Top Jobs for Pre-Law and Legal Studies Degree Majors

A lawyer on the phone outside a court room
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What can you do with a pre-law degree, other than become a lawyer? Many people who choose legal studies or pre-law as an undergraduate major don’t go to law school right away, or at all. There are many career alternatives that a legal studies major can consider.

What Can You Do With a Pre-Law Major?

The pre-law or legal studies curriculum prepares college students for a broad range of careers both within and outside the legal profession. Legal studies majors develop research skills as they gather information about legal cases. They learn writing skills while composing briefs, research papers, and essays about legal issues.

Pre-law students also develop critical thinking and analytical skills as they interpret cases. They learn to digest large volumes of information with speed and acquire high levels of comprehension. 

Legal studies students also learn to refine their presentation, persuasion, and debating skills as they defend legal or ethical cases in classes or mock trials.

Top Jobs for Legal Studies/Pre-Law Majors

Legal reasoning and knowledge can lead to many different career paths. Yours will depend on your unique combination of skills, values, interests, and personality traits. Many pre-law majors plan on attending law school, but there are other options to consider, either as an interim job while deciding on or applying to law school, or as an alternative career option.

1. Lawyer

There are many different career paths within the field of law. Law school graduates can practice general law or specialize in corporate law, tax law, antitrust law, securities law, malpractice law, real estate law, criminal law or other specific legal areas.

Lawyers can be self-employed, or work for a corporation or the government.

Salary and Job Outlook:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that lawyers earned an average of $120,910 in May 2018. The top 10% earned more than $208,000 while the bottom 10% earned $58,220 or less. The BLS projected employment in this field to grow by 8% through 2026, about as fast as average for all occupations.

2. Paralegal/Legal Assistant

Working as a paralegal or legal assistant can be the perfect stepping stone to law school, or to another career. Strong organizational skills are essential for paralegals and legal assistants as they coordinate documents and exhibits for law firms. Legal assistants must be very accurate and precise as they proofread documents and make sure that materials are in order.

Legal support workers may utilize the research skills developed during their legal studies to gather information about legal precedents.

They also use many of the same resources, like Lexus Nexus, that legal studies students are trained to utilize. Strong verbal communication skills are required to explain legal issues to clients.

Salary and Job Outlook:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that paralegals/legal assistants earned an average of $50,940 in May 2018. The top 10% earned $82,050 or more,and the bottom 10% earned $31,400 or less. The BLS projected employment in this field to grow by 12% through 2026, faster than average for all occupations.

3. Legislative Assistant

Legislative assistants help analyze proposed legislation and advise political officials about its impact on constituents. They use writing skills learned from their legal studies to draft correspondence, language for bills, and scripts for speeches.

Legislative assistants may also use their skills of persuasion to convince constituents and legislators about the merit of legislative initiatives.

Salary:

According to Payscale, legislative assistants earned an average of $39,828. The top 10% earned $63,000 or more, and the bottom 10% earned $30,000 or less.

4. Human Resources Representative

Human resources (HR) staff need to be able to read and understand wage, salary and employment law, and apply legal reasoning to a broad range of personnel issues. There are many legal considerations involved in hiring and terminating employees. Benefits and pension programs and policies must be structured in compliance with legal statutes. Some HR representatives help formulate union and employee contracts, which are legal documents.

The persuasive, presentation and writing skills of pre-law students can help people who want to be human resources professionals in areas like recruiting, training and policy development.

Salary and Job Outlook:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that human resources specialists earned an average of $60,880 in May 2018. The top 10% earned $104,390 or more, while the bottom 10% earned $36,270 or less. The BLS projected employment in this field to grow by 5% through 2026, about as fast as average for all occupations.

5. Compliance Officer

Compliance officers monitor and review actions by their organizations or clients to ensure that their operations, projects and procedures follow laws, policies and contract stipulations. The critical reading and legal reasoning skills required by a pre-law curriculum can help compliance officers interpret legal statutes.

The writing, presentation, and persuasive skills honed by legal studies majors are useful as compliance officers may also have to formulate policies, educate staff, and convince management about the advisability of compliance.

Salary:

According to Payscale, compliance officers earned an average of $67,666. The top 10% earned $110,000 or more, and the bottom 10% earned $43,000 or less.

6. Accountant

Accountants study rules and laws which govern how organizations collect and represent financial information. Like legal studies majors, accountants must be able to interpret how laws and guidelines relate to a body of information. Internal and external auditors draft reports and advise organizations about the formulation of policies and procedures.

Tax accountants must track the ever-changing landscape of IRS rules and legislation that impact tax planning. As consultants, accountants utilize the presentation and writing skills acquiredthrough their pre-law studies to report their recommendations.

Salary and Job Outlook:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that accountants earned an average of $70,500 in May 2018. The top 10% earned $122,840 or more, while the bottom 10% earned $36,270 or less. The BLS projected employment in this field to grow by 6% through 2026, about as fast as average for all occupations.

7. Law Enforcement Officer

Law enforcement professionals at all levels from local police to state and federal agencies must comprehend and apply legal concepts as they patrol, investigate crimes and arrest offenders. They must write reports that accurately and precisely describe details of crimes.

Law enforcement officers utilize the verbal and persuasive skills of pre-law majors as they educate the public and encourage compliance with laws.

Salary and Job Outlook:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that police and detectives earned an average of $63,380 in May 2018. The top 10% earned $106,090 or more, while the bottom 10% earned $36,550 or less. The BLS projected employment in this field to grow by 6% through 2026, about as fast as average for all occupations. 

8. Real Estate Agent

Commercial and residential real estate agents draw up contracts for leases and purchases that must be legally sound. Like pre-law students, they must read and interpret legal statutes and documents. Real estate agents rely on strong verbal communication skills to explain legal issues to clients.

Agents utilize negotiating and persuasive skills to convince other agents and customers about the viability of proposals. They must be attentive to detail when drafting and finalizing agreements.

Salary and Job Outlook:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that real estate agents earned an average of $48,690 in May 2018. The top 10% earned $112,610 or more, while the bottom 10% earned $24,650 or less. The BLS projected employment in this field to grow by 6% through 2026, about as fast as average for all occupations. 

9. Mediator

Mediators resolve disputes between parties outside of the courtroom. They must understand legal issues and convince clients of the benefits of forging agreements without litigation. Like legal studies majors, they must be able to judge cases objectively and view issues from the perspective of both parties.

Mediators apply problem-solving skills to identify mutually agreeable proposals. Writing skills are essential for mediators when they draft agreements. Strong verbal and persuasive skills are required to explain potential agreements and encourage parties to accept compromises.

Salary:

According to Payscale, mediators earned an average of $51,088. The top 10% earned $97,000 or more, and the bottom 10% earned $38,000 or less.

10. Law Librarian

Law librarians, like legal studies students, must identify resources for gathering legal information. They must be able to evaluate new technology and publications to ensure that attorneys have the best resources available.

Law librarians enlist strong communications skills to advise lawyers, paralegals and law students about resources suited to their cases. Law librarians must also be well organized and systematic to create logical systems for retrieving information.

Salary and Job Outlook:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that librarians earned an average of $59,050 in May 2018. The top 10% earned $93,050 or more, while the bottom 10% earned $34,630 or less. The BLS projected employment in this field to grow by 6% through 2026, about as fast as average for all occupations.

11. Government Relations Officer

Government relations officers analyze information about legislation related to the mission of their organization. Writing skills, developed through the legal studies major, are essential when drafting summaries of legislative proposals for staff. Verbal and persuasive skills help government relations officers present issues to legislative staff.

Government relations officers apply knowledge of the legislative process to track bills and strategize about the best timing for interventions. They are required to read and comprehend large volumes of legallyoriented information.

Salary:

According to Payscale, government relations managers earned an average of $68,875. The top 10% earned $112,000 or more, and the bottom 10% earned $48,000 or less.