Post University – B.S. in Legal Studies
Walden University – Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Human Services – Courts and the Legal System
Kaplan University – BS in Paralegal Studies
Champlain College – Master of Science in Law
Grand Canyon University – M.S. in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies
Kaplan University – MSLS – Legal System and the Media
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
Alternative dispute resolution, or ADR, is the practice of using substitute methods to resolve conflicts to help individuals reach an agreement. Professionals working in this field commonly deal with legal issues to help prevent litigation. Many courts require some cases to undergo ADR before they can go to trial. ADR professionals design, organize, and direct programs, and many assist attorneys and other legal professionals in resolving civil, juvenile, family, small claims, and other related cases. Many alternative dispute resolution professionals participate community outreach efforts to assist with the identification of potential funding sources for services.
Many employers require ADR professionals to possess a Juris Doctor degree from an accredited law school as well as a valid license to practice law. These professionals also commonly need significant professional experience in law.
Alternative dispute resolution professionals earn an average pay of $68,000 on an annual basis. The exact pay differs on many aspects, like specific location, education, and benefits.
Bailiffs work in court environments to announce the entry of the judge, swear in witnesses, and maintain order in the courtroom. They escort jury members in and out of the courtroom and make sure they in no unnecessary contact with the public. They also make sure the courtroom is stocked with the necessary supplies and equipment. Many bailiffs assist in transporting prisoners to and from the courthouse. Some bailiffs are responsible for collecting debts and providing assistance to legal professionals.
Bailiffs must have at least a high school diploma, but many employers prefer those with special legal training or a degree in paralegal studies. All bailiffs receive training on the job. Additionally, bailiffs must have good communication abilities, the ability to deal with stressful situations, and fundamental knowledge of legal procedures.
The average pay for bailiffs is around $42,000 per year, but exact salary differs greatly on location, employer, and education.
A court clerk is responsible for managing the administrative and clerical tasks in court environments. He or she manages the records and documents related to trials and hearings. He or she processes legal forms, schedules cases and hearings, and makes sure files are complete and accurate. For trials, a clerk puts together documents and materials that are needed for the case. He or she also reviews all documents to make sure the procedures are described correctly. A court clerk also provides customer service to patrons in court settings.
Court clerks must have at least a high school diploma or equivalent, and most employers prefer those with at least two years of office experience. Many aspiring court clerks complete a degree in criminal justice to remain competitive in the field.
The median wages for court clerks is around $35,000 per year. The top 10 percent of court clerks make more than $47,000 per year, and the bottom 10 percent earn under $23,000 annually.
A court reporter, also called a stenographer, is a legal professional that appears at legal proceedings and related events to generate written transcriptions. He or she creates transcripts of legal proceedings, speeches, meetings, and conversations. In order to create an accurate record, court reporters must transcribe the events word-for-word. Court reporters also assist attorneys and judges by organizing records and searching for specific information that is applicable to a certain case. Court reporters commonly use stenotype machines, steno masks, and digital records to complete the transcriptions.
A lot of court reporters complete formal postsecondary training in court reporting from technical institutions or community colleges. The length of the programs varies by the type of transcription method. For example programs that train on stenotype machines take about two to four years to complete and result in an associate degree.
The median pay for court reporters is around $52,000 per year. The top 10 percent make over $82,000 per year and the lowest 10 percent below $26,000.
Criminologists study, use and even create sociological and criminological theories to explain what causes crime. Social learning, social disorganization, peacemaking and anomie are just a few theories that attempt to explain what causes criminal behavior.
Some criminologists attribute crime causation to a genetic abnormality and others to an individual’s upbringing in the nature versus nurture debate. Criminologists are employed by local, state and federal government agencies to assist in solving crimes or to identify methods of preventing criminal acts.
Criminologists are also university faculty members engaged in conducting research and creating their own theories of crime. Criminologists have helped to create crime scene investigation techniques like the fingerprint classification system and have contributed to judicial restructuring models such as the restorative justice system conceptualized in peacemaking criminological theories.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies criminologists as sociologists and states those employed in this field earn a median salary of $72,360. Criminology professors earn an average annual salary of $62,050.
A defense attorney spends his or her time defending accused parties who have found their selves facing legal matters. Sometimes, the accused parties are being accused of criminal offenses while other times the case may lean more towards a civil matter. Much of the time, defense attorneys first start their careers out as a prosecutor. As ironic as it is, prosecutors represent the victims and/or accusing parties of a case.
To become a defense attorney, a person will need to obtain a law degree as well as pass certain examinations. It usually takes at least five years to become a lawyer, and more than eight years to establish oneself as a defense attorney in the legal industry. The average salary of a defense attorney depends on how many cases the professional handles as well as his or her area of specialty.
Judges are legal professionals that are the head of cases in federal, state, and local courts. They govern the acceptability of all types of evidence, oversee witness testimonies, and resolve conflicts among opposing sides of attorneys. They use their advanced understanding of the law to carry out and implement laws and rules. Judges strive to ensure all proceedings safeguard the legal rights of all individuals. Judges commonly hold pretrial hearings to determine if the case needs to go to trial. Besides courtrooms, judges work in their chambers conducting research, reviewing cases and legal documents, and meet with lawyers.
Judges must have a degree in law and significant experience in the legal field. Some states enable people who are not licensed lawyers to work as administrative judges, but trial judges at all levels must be lawyers.
The median annual pay for judges is around $150,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $183,000 and the lowest 10 percent make less than $144,000.
Justices are members of the supreme court, either at the state or federal level. The number of justices varies by type of supreme court and state. The U.S. Supreme Court has between five and ten justices. They common serve for six-year terms. Justices hear a variety of cases, commonly from appeals from district courts. They compose reviews and opinions for each case. Justices only hear particular cases after reviewing the petitions of attorneys.
To become a justice, individuals must be lawyers with a valid state bar license. They also need a minimum of six years experience. Justices are selected in a general election every even-numbered year. Majority justices begin their careers as lawyers and work their way up through the legal system.
Justices earn a national average wage of about $51,000 per year. With that being said, this is just an average, and pay can vary greatly on location, education, and experience.
Juvenile Court Judge
Most times, juvenile court judges work in juvenile dependency courts. This means that the professionals do everything that judges do, however, there is not a jury. The person that makes the final decision about any and all juvenile matters is the juvenile judge.
The judge has the responsibility of listening to what everyone has to say, including parents, juveniles, lawyers, court-appointed workers, social workers and more. It is left up to the judge to make the best choice for all parties involved.
To become a juvenile court judge, a person must go through many years of formal schooling. In this line of work, it is not uncommon for the judge to make more than $120,000 a year. Juvenile court judges must live according to high ethical standards.
The type of work that a lawyer performs depends on the type of lawyer he or she is. For example, a family lawyer tends to spend the most of his or her time working divorce cases, child custody cases, adoption cases and so forth. A criminal defense attorney usually works cases defending criminal offenders.
No matter the type of lawyer a person becomes, he or she will have to obtain a post-secondary education as well as pass certain exams. Lawyers can make very good money; however, they tend to work long hours, especially when handling cases that go to trial.
If a person wants to become a lawyer, it is best to speak with a career counselor to determine the exact educational path that needs to be followed.
When a person works in legal administration, he or she is responsible for managing a wide range of daily operations that take place in a legal office. Legal administrators tend to be responsible for a legal firm’s finances; however, it is not uncommon for an actual accountant to come in and handle the financially-related tasks. The administrators also tend to be in charge of managing the firm’s office.
To be successful in the field of legal administration, a person will need top-notch organizational skills, great communication skills, good customer service skills and have superb secretarial abilities.
In this line of work, legal administrators can expect to earn more than $40,000 a year. A person does not have to have a formal degree to become a legal administrator; however, a formal education will help to broaden employment opportunities.
Legal assistants do not have to take part in any type of specialized training to perform their services. Most employers however, prefer their legal assistants to hold some type of paralegal degree or certification. These types of credentials can usually be earned in less than two years. In fact, some certification programs can be completed in as little as eight months. In this line of work, a person carries out a wide range of duties for his or her employer, which may be a large law firm, an independent law firm or a prosecutor’s office.
To be successful as a legal assistant, a person will need to master the following skills:
- Secretarial skills
- Writing skills
- Researching skills
- Organizational skills
- Computer skills
- Customer service skills
Entering into this line of work can lead to a rewarding salary level, oftentimes exceeding $30,000 a year.
Legal researchers provide relevant information on various cases to attorneys or other legal professionals. They look in to the aspects of past cases and models to provide helpful assistance in building a strong case. They are under the constant supervision of attorneys and are prohibited from offering legal advice to clients. Legal researchers commonly work for private law firms, courts, insurance companies, hospitals, banks, or the military.
Legal researchers must have at least an associate degree in paralegal studies or related area, but many employers prefer individuals with a bachelor’s degree. Many individuals obtain voluntary certification to gain a competitive edge in the field. The National Associate of Legal Assistants offers such certifications. New legal researchers commonly receive on-the-job training for up to six months.
The average pay for legal researchers is around $50,000 per year. However, average wages differ significantly on location, employer, industry, education, experience, and benefit packages.
Paralegals are oftentimes referred to as legal assistants. They usually spend their time carrying out a wide variety of tasks for their employers who tend to be lawyers. Paralegals can work on either side of the court system, meaning they can work for defense lawyers as well as prosecutors. Paralegals are not legally allowed to sign court documents unless they are a notary nor are they allowed to provide legal advice.
Paralegals spend the most of their time performing research, attending court proceedings with their employers, communicating vital information with their employers’ clients and much more. To become a paralegal, a person does not necessarily have to go through any type of special training; however, to make oneself more employable, it is best to take part in some type of paralegal certification program. Paralegals tend to make good money, averaging more than $30,000 a year.
Pre-law professionals are individuals who are currently or planning to pursue a Juris Doctor degree. They commonly work in legal and court environments assisting lawyers with a variety of tasks, such as organizing files, drafting documents, and performing legal research. They help prepare for cases by looking into the facts and evidence and composing reports to prepare for trials.
Pre-law professionals commonly purse majors that are adapted for law degrees. Examples of popular majors include philosophy, political science, and history. Many individuals specialize their pre-law studies by taking classes in management or business. To enter law school, professionals must develop a solid understanding of the human institutions and aspects the law handles. They also need a know-how of the history of political, social, and economic entities.
In general, pre-law professionals earn an average salary of $41,000, but actual wages will fluctuate with specific location, position, and employer.
Probate judges usually spend their time handling cases that involve the personal estates of those people who have become deceased. For example, if a person with a large amount of land becomes deceased without a will, it is a probate judge’s responsibility to divide the land fairly between beneficiaries. There are laws that have to be followed by the judge, meaning he or she cannot simply decide who gets what.
To become a probate judge, a person will have to go through many years of formal education. It typically takes a person ten or more years to become this type of judge, including many years of experience as a lawyer. Salary levels of probate judges tend to exceed $100,000 a year.
Most of the time, a prosecuting attorney will find employment through the government. This type of lawyer represents victims of cases. The job responsibilities of a prosecuting attorney include carrying out legal proceedings on behalf of victims.
Prosecuting attorneys are oftentimes involved in criminal offense cases before the cases are even heard by a judge. For example, if a crime is reported, the prosecuting attorney will usually become involved with police, informing them of whether or not further investigation needs to take place. If so, after further investigation has been conducted, it is then the prosecutor’s choice whether or not to take the case to court. Essentially, a prosecuting attorney plays a very vital role in determining which criminals face punishment and which ones do not.
Entering into this line of work is advantageous for a number of reasons. People who become prosecutors oftentimes testify they are satisfied in their careers, and they also enjoy the accompanying pay levels, which tend to exceed $80,000 a year.