Law-related Careers, Jobs & Salaries

Outside view of courthouse

For every lawyer, court, and case, there are a number of people in supporting roles that help everything run smoothly. These include security teams, members of law enforcement and corrections, and paralegals, legal assistants and law secretaries.

Paralegals, also called legal assistants, perform many of the same tasks as lawyers - the difference is that paralegals cannot do things such as argue a case in court, set legal fees, or give legal advice. One of the main duties for paralegals is to help lawyers prepare for, research, and argue a case. The paralegal may look up similar cases, analyze and organize their info, and pass it all on the lawyer to consider in case arguments.

Many paralegals also "keep shop" while attorneys are out. They organize incoming and case-relevant files, draft legal documents (such as mortgages and contracts). They work in all types of organizations, although 70% of them are employed by private legal firms or practices. Many specialize in areas such as labor law or personal injury law, a particular asset to a large corporation or firm. Most paralegals spend their working hours in libraries and offices; those in law firms may work long hours. Job outlook is quite good. Salary figures vary greatly; however, one estimate for full-time paralegals in 2002 was $37,950 (including bonuses).

Legal Secretaries are specially-trained administrative assistants whose knowledge of legal matters, library information systems, research, and client relations makes them an indispensable asset to many firms. They prepare legal correspondences (such as summonses and motions for appeal), review legal journals and new judicial decisions, and perform fact checking and research. Legal secretaries earned an average of $35,020 in 2002 - more than secretaries without legal training. Additional education and certification usually leads to more responsibilities and, thus, higher pay.

Police and Detectives protect the lives and property of citizens. They also enforce laws and apprehend criminals. Investigators and private detectives protect private citizens (such as celebrities) and they try to determine the facts of an issue for their client. For example, they may conduct surveillance, record information about, and present the facts to an employer investigating whether an injured employee is faking their injury to get the insurance money. Their overall role is to work with law enforcement, attorneys, and private and business clients in a variety of ways. Median salaries for private investigators and detectives were $29,300 in 2002.

Correctional Officers work in jails, prisons, and court rooms. They escort the accused to and from court, and they maintain order in jails and prisons. Job outlook for these officers is excellent, and the pay is also good (partially compensating for the risk and high stress of the job). Median earnings in 2002 were $32,670. Benefits and retirement packages are usually generous.

Security Guards patrol and inspect property, protect citizens and patrons, and more. Possible employers include schools, casinos, malls, department stores, banks, apartments and hotels, and much more. A typical shift may include patrolling the grounds to look for suspicious people or activities; assisting patrons if needed; and filing reports. Odd shifts and long periods of standing are common. Many of these guards are off-duty police officers, whose mere presence often prevents mischief. Median earnings in 2002 were $19,140. School guards made the most; $24,470 on average.

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