Most of us only know so much about legal careers – There is a judge, two lawyers on either side and their clients in the courtroom who are battling their way out of a case. We have seen it in the movies, in the show and in the commonplace. New discoveries happen each day. Today is probably your discovery day of legal careers. The legal profession is more widespread than we think and it has a multitude of branches associated with it. There are people who work in the back-end and the associations thereof.
There are a variety of skills people in this field possess and accordingly, they have more options than the easily thinkable ones, to apply their expertise to. It is a matter of interest which brings individuals to the legal field, but ultimately, it is only their skill that decides what they want to actually pursue.
Let us take a look at some careers that one can take up in the Legal Spectrum-
Within Law Firms: Legal Aids
It is commonly understood that only lawyers work in law firms. This is not completely true though. In addition to the lawyers, there are always those people needed alongside them, who lubricate the way lawyers advance in their careers.
There are some helping hands that are not often seen prima facie, but their significance is large and they are indispensable for any law firm.
Legal secretaries are an important link in any legal office. They’re the ones who schedule the lawyer’s meetings with their clients, send important information about hearing updates to the lawyers and the clients and collect necessary paperwork to assist the lawyer in preparing for court.
In short, they’re the ones who remember the important information, join the dots and keep track of the calendar and clerical work for the lawyer they assist. If you remember Donna Paulsen from Suits, who was a prodigy of a legal secretary, you know how much of a role she played in keeping the firm together, always!
- Necessary qualification – None; should understand legal procedures, filing, and documentation
Paralegals to Lawyers are what Robin is to Batman. Yes, the work of a lawyer is incomplete or not at par if there are no paralegals. These are the people who do the research, maintain trail of the documents, collect evidence and do all the necessary spadework required for an attorney to deliver. Paralegals are the important cogs in the wheel who’s presence is felt the most when working on any case – which means, every time!
- Necessary qualification – No specific qualification required; it’s only experience gained over years with patience and practice that counts and the ability to organize is the best aid. Graduates are preferred, though not mandatory, a high school pass-out with good common sense and basic knowledge of legalities with an appetite to learn is a must!
Law-folks in Education
The education sector has scope for everyone to perform. It forms the base of everything that ever happens in the world. If there are professions, there is also professional education.
Imagine lawyers who straight came to law firms from high school? Not possible, right? In Law Schools, there are hardcore Law Professionals whose career takes the education route to deliver to their best possible capacities. Here’s how people from law backgrounds make a career in education:
Imagine going to law school with no teachers, only internet resources and books. It is impossible to go to law school without experiencing the expertise imparted by a professor. Professors grant life to law and show the real-life image of the landmark cases we all study while in law school. Without your professor, you can never actually become a lawyer! These professors are also involved in legal research, which enables them to teach aspiring lawyers in an experiential manner.
- Requirements – Must have a master’s degree in law, and should have cleared the country-specific exams and qualifications for working as a full-time educator.
Law School Admission Officer
Where there is a college, there is an Ad-Com. Whether you have gone to a law school or not, you all understand the importance of an Ad-Com or Admissions Committee or the individual admission officer. These are the people who assess a potential candidate’s legal acumen to test whether they will be the right fit for the law school or not.
- Requirements – Should be a persuasive individual, who can highlight the pros (only pros; don’t discuss the cons of your law school) to the future students and lure them into applying to their respective law schools.
Legal Career Counsellors
Career Counselling has become more mainstream than before and all students seek counselling, regardless of the studies they have pursued. However, a legal career counsellor is someone who handpicks the students to get into top law firms and ensures they get a push to enter the legal workforce as soon as they graduate.
Depending on the requirement of the firm and the student, this match is made and executed by a legal career counsellor only.
- Requirements – A certificate course in career counselling
- Skills – Ability to be a people’s person and maintain good relations with the hiring managers and partners of various law firms.
Dean of Law School
Deans of law schools are usually ones who have long been part of the professor-workforce of the industry and have escalated in their career to head an educational institution of law. They are the ones who supervise and control the programs offered in the law school and to regulate the pedagogy followed by the school as well.
- Requirements – A master’s degree in law and a master’s degree in education, candidates with a doctorate are preferred; experience of over 15 years in legal education.
- Skills – Administrative and leadership
As discussed in the beginning of this article, some of us only acknowledge the presence of a judge and lawyers in the courtroom. There are many more people in the court who are present for smooth conduction of any trial.
The man behind the splattering keys documenting the case word by word – that’s the steno!
Any oral arguments delivered by both the lawyers, details of counter-questioning and witness statements are all recorded in black and white by a stenographer. He types the developments as and when they happen. They’re the ninjas who keep track of all that happens in the courtroom, just by being extremely attentive and typing with the speed of a cheetah.
- Requirements – In India, there are specific exams conducted by the government for a stenographer, which are declared as and when vacancies are created.
- Other skills – supersonic typing speed, ability to think quickly and retain a sea of information.
The judges in the courtrooms have a host of tasks to perform and they need someone to assist them to ensure timely completion of the day’s work. These legal clerks are assistants to judges, who do all the home-work for the judge. Their job is to prepare summarized reports, perform research on ongoing cases and brief the judge about the same.
- Requirements – Usually, law clerks are law school graduates and understand the law. They function in this role to immerse themselves into the court-life by working hard under the judges, who are full of experience themselves. Great way to begin the legal career for a law school graduate!
Data Entry Executive
With the wave of ‘Digital India’, more and more documents are digitized for online access. A data entry executive in a court performs the task of storing onto digital storage spaces, all necessary documentation and filing, for ease of access.
- Requirement – A graduate degree in IT, qualifying Data Entry Operator exams announced by the government ( as an when the requirement arises).
Litigation Support Officer (LSO)
A Litigation Support Officer is an advanced version of a Data Entry Executive. While a DEE only enters the data onto the digital storage platform, an LSO adds more features to this data to make it easily accessible online by the common man.
For example, if you have an ongoing case in the court, but are not sure when does the next date of your trial fall, you can simply log on to the concerned webpage of the court and check the details there. In addition, the trail of the case history is also maintained in that space by the LSO.
- Requirements – Clearing the government exams for Specialist Officers in courts, a graduate degree with a concentration in IT and cloud computing (preferred).
Arbitration is the settlement that happens with the intervention of the court, but doesn’t involve a regular trial. An arbitrator meets with both the parties and their lawyers and aims to bring about a settlement between the two, by means of a discussion. The arbitrator works as a mediator and is chosen by the consent of both parties.
- Requirements – Should have a degree in law, must be a people’s person with effective communication skills.
An interpreter is someone who is multilingual and helps the speakers of different language to understand the statements in the common medium. This is specially useful in India because almost every state has its own regional language and diction. An interpreter prevents linguistic barriers from coming in the way of justice-seeking and imparting.
- Requirements – Must be aware of multiple regional languages and have interpreting experience.
A forensic expert is a scientist who studies, analyses and researches samples of evidence to reach a conclusion that aids in the decision-making process in the court.
These can especially be useful in criminal cases, where evidence is of utmost importance. Finger-prints, blood samples, physical assault marks, and any other type of evidence may be examined by a forensic expert to furnish a report to the court/any of the parties.
- Requirements – Should have a master’s degree in forensic sciences and experience of working in a forensic lab.
A medical jurist is a doctor of legal medicine, who works on cases that require medical examination of corpses or gives their evidence and opinion in matters where the cause of death is to be determined.
They also deal in cases that involve misuse of medication, violation of patient confidentiality, personal injury, and medical malpractice. The scientific knowledge acquired is applied to arrive at solutions to legal problems.
- Requirements – Must have a master’s degree in legal medicine/medical administration and over 10 years of experience in the related field.
A jury is the body of individuals from the common public who are involved in the decision-making process apart from the judge himself. They are supposedly sympathetic individuals and there needs to be a thorough background check done for each such person who is considered to be made a member of such a jury.
A jury consultant is a person who performs these background checks and prepares a questionnaire for potential jurors, to ensure that only the suitable people are on board.
- Requirements – Master’s degree in sociology/ political sciences/behavioral sciences/ psychology and 5-10 years of experience of working with a diversity of people.
The options listed above are not the only options available in the legal field. There are also many more such job profiles created rapidly, as technology advances and the complexity of cases evolves. The law sphere is expanding, and so will legal careers.