It isn’t easy to become a lawyer, but for those who do put in the hard work to get there, the legal sector can be very rewarding. When most people think of a lawyer, they get a picture of the typical prosecutor or criminal defense attorney you see on TV, who either works to convict a defendant of a crime, or to clear the falsely convicted defendant’s name. In reality, however, very few lawyers are able to work in the field of criminal law, and there are a number of other types of attorneys and legal jobs that make up the entirety of the legal sector.
Types of Attorneys
Business, or corporate, lawyers deal with transactions, litigation (lawsuits), mergers and acquisitions, patents, and other issues related to operating a business. Corporate attorneys usually work from a large firm, but can also work in-house at a particular company.
Real estate lawyers, also known as property lawyers, can deal with individual or corporate transactions, and deal with disputes surrounding foreclosure, landlord-tenant disagreements, and property disputes with neighbors. On the corporate level, property lawyers may deal with zoning laws, contract agreements, and other large-scale issues. Real estate lawyers differ from what are known as estate lawyers, who deal primarily with trusts and wills.
There are also attorneys who deal with employment, immigration, bankruptcy, taxes, environmental lawsuits, personal injury claims including medical malpractice, and many other areas of the law. However, not all careers in the legal sector involve being an attorney in the commonly understood sense. As outlined below, there are a number of ways to pursue a career in the legal sector without ever setting foot in a courtroom.
Working as a Lawyer
Lawyers can work as legal advisors, either in the political realm, for a business, or just for an individual. Legal advisors simply advise a person or organization in matters of the law. At the business level, a legal advisor would be asked to look over any corporate decision in search of potential issues, which could lead to problems with the law in the future. Politicians may have legal advisors oversee research on certain laws and issues in preparation for policy formulation. Individuals might simply have a legal advisor help them structure their business to minimize tax penalties or to advise them on disputes taking place outside of the courtroom.
Many CEOs, COOs, and VPs come from the legal sector, and in fact, quite a few begin as legal advisors or corporate attorneys. A lot of the skills needed to oversee a business, especially on a larger scale, are the same as those required to be an attorney.
Another non-traditional role for lawyers is one that is becoming increasingly popular, and that is the role of an alternative dispute resolver, which includes mediators and arbitrators. Mediators, though not required to have a law degree, are usually lawyers, who help people resolve disputes without court intervention. The decisions of mediators can be legally binding if agreed upon by the participants. Similarly, arbitrators deal with disputes out of court, and impose legally binding decisions, acting as a sort of judge in the case. Many times, arbitration is used as a last resort for unions and corporations to ensure a resolution comes about.
Politics, as briefly mentioned above, often intertwines with the law, especially as it relates to pushing policy through at the municipal, state, or federal level. Many politicians have law degrees, and many, including a number of Presidents, have worked as lawyers at some point.
Another area of the legal sector that might not be grouped in with the rest as often is academia. In the legal sector, it is almost never the case that “those who can’t do, teach” and in fact, most law professors have practiced at some point in their careers, or may even currently practice while also teaching law. Legal academics also research, write briefs for prominent cases, act as legal advisors, and publish articles.
There are numerous ways to break into the legal sector, an area, which can be both financially, and socially rewarding. Those who work in the legal sector have an opportunity to help individuals, businesses, and even governments protect their best interests and pursue new endeavors. Putting in the time, effort, and hard work it takes to become a lawyer can open up a number of doors towards personal and financial fulfillment.