3 Valuable Benefits of Pursuing Legal Studies or a Similar Path
America's legal system is a critical piece of the foundation that supports our freedoms and way of life. It often plays a major role in bringing about social change. And it is the guardian of justice and our most cherished rights. That's why having a career in this field can be so meaningful and rewarding.
But the type of education that many legal and criminal justice schools provide can also lead to a host of other benefits. Here are three of the most practical advantages associated with choosing this path:
1. A Helpful Diversity of Fulfilling Career Possibilities
Today, many kinds of professionals need a good understanding of how the U.S. legal system works. And having that knowledge, along with some practical legal skills, can be a big selling point to potential employers across a wide range of sectors. As a result, it can generate a lot of flexibility for you when assessing your career options.
But even within the various legal sectors themselves, you'll find a lot of occupational variety. Whether you make the choice to help other people clear up their legal problems or contribute to keeping your community safe, multiple options exist. And they often provide a sense of pride, achievement, and purpose for those who choose them.
For example, aside from roles like lawyers and judges, consider these popular vocational areas:
- Legal assisting and support—Includes paralegals, legal assistants, and legal office administration specialists who help lawyers and clients draft documents, conduct important research, maintain records, and prepare for meetings and court proceedings
- Court reporting—Involves attending and accurately transcribing legal proceedings such as hearings, depositions, and trials
- Mediation and arbitration—Involves helping people resolve their conflicts through alternative dispute resolution processes that don't involve court trials or litigation
- Criminal investigations—Includes forensic crime scene investigators, forensic pathologists, and digital forensic analysts who help collect and examine physical or electronic evidence using special procedures and technology
- Law enforcement—Involves duties like protecting property, keeping people safe, maintaining order, and investigating illegal activity as a police officer, security guard, correctional officer, emergency response manager, or similar professional
- Private investigation—Involves working for private clients or employers to uncover and gather information and useful evidence related to anything from personal transgressions to legal or financial fraud by conducting surveillance and using other investigative methods
- Homeland security—Includes professionals like border patrol officers, federal law enforcement agents, transportation security officers, intelligence analysts, cyber-security specialists, and many others
- Corrections management—Involves overseeing people who are incarcerated for breaking the law while ensuring that they are treated ethically and within their rights and also have the support to pursue their goals for rehabilitation
2. Career Stability and Opportunity Growth
The effective administration of law and justice is essential to maintaining a free and fair society. Plus, our communities have no shortage of issues that must be dealt with through our legal and law enforcement institutions. Such issues are simply ongoing aspects of society that require educated and well-trained professionals to help address. Year over year, the demand continues to be stable, if not growing. Just take a look at these facts:
- In 2013 alone, almost 13.5 million cases were handled by state-level trial courts across America, including civil, criminal, juvenile, domestic-relations, traffic, and violations cases.*
- Nearly 1.4 million cases were filed in the U.S. federal court system during the fiscal year from September 2013 to September 2014.**
- From 2005 to 2015, the number of lawyers in America rose by 17.7 percent.*** And lawyers, paralegals, and other legal professionals aren't just involved in court trials or litigation. In fact, a huge percentage of them specialize in more day-to-day issues related to areas like business and employment law, contracts, property transfers, taxes, estate planning, and intellectual property.
- About 55 percent of people in the U.S. never prepare a will or estate plan, so the market for potential clients in that area of law still has a lot of room to grow.***
- In 2010 alone, America was home to more than 28 million businesses. And roughly 400,000 new employer businesses are established each year in the U.S.†† Most of them require good legal advice and ongoing legal services, especially as they grow, enter new markets, or seek to acquire or merge with other businesses.
- Almost 9.8 million crimes involving property or violence occurred in the U.S. in 2013.****
One of the stronger job outlooks in this sector belongs to paralegals and legal assistants, which are expected to experience employment gains of 15 percent between 2016 and 2026. Other growing occupations include private investigators with projected job increases of 10 percent, arbitrators and mediators with 11 percent estimated job growth, and court reporters with anticipated growth of three percent over the same period.†
3. Good Earning Potential
Legal training helps a lot of people build careers that generate good yearly incomes. For example, check out the pay of the following occupations (the first amount represents the average annual pay in 2016, and the second amount represents what the highest earners made that year in the U.S.):‡
- Paralegals and legal assistants—$53,180 / over $80,260
- Court reporters—$56,940 / over $95,990
- Mediators and arbitrators—$72,730 / over $123,930
- Private investigators—$53,530 / over $87,070
- Police officers—$62,760 / over $98,510
- Probation officers—$55,380 / over $88,930
Discover Where to Go Next
Take an easy action right now that can help you figure out which direction to go in. Use your zip code to search for a nearby legal school where your future can begin taking shape!
* Court Statistics Project, website last visited on August 13, 2015.
** United States Courts, website last visited on August 13, 2015.
*** American Bar Association, website last visited on May 25, 2017.
**** Federal Bureau of Investigation, website last visited on August 13, 2015.
† Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, website last visited on January 4, 2018.
‡ Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, website last visited on September 14, 2017.
†† U.S. Small Business Administration, website last visited on August 24, 2015.