These days, the “legal profession” is a diverse group of individuals ranging from consultants of various kinds, paralegals, e-discovery experts and professionals skilled in tax and business law. But, which careers are really hot! The Top 10! Here’s what one online college journal had to say recently:
- Electronic Discovery Experts – Electronic discovery professionals (or, e-discovery experts) are legal professionals who use technology to identify, manage and preserve information that has been stored electronically. This electronically stored information (ESI) is then utilized in the litigation process. Thanks to the numerous changes that have recently been made within the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the need for qualified e-discovery professionals has grown significantly. In 2011, it is estimated to be a $21.8 billion industry, with demand for skilled professionals growing significantly.
- Legal Nurse Consultant – Having an interest and skills in both law and medicine translates into a pretty lucrative future. By advising attorneys about medical-related issues, you can earn up to $200 per hour. CareerBuilder.com lists legal nurse consulting as one of the top ten hot careers of 2009.
- Litigation Support Consultant–Litigation Support Professional – As the legal technology field grows and becomes even more varied and complex, firms are no longer looking just to a general paralegal to handle the technological aspects of presenting large-scale cases. Increasingly, they are looking to a hybrid profession that mixes part paralegal with part IT professional. In this writer’s opinion, the only thing holding this new career from developing to its fullest potential is the lack of adequate tech training given to most paralegal in their general studies courses.
- Paralegal – CNN.Money included the paralegal field as one of the top 20 jobs in the country. Due to the growing demand for qualified professionals to fill this positions and due to the growing responsibilities taken on by paralegals, salaries within the field are also growing, well ahead of many other professions. Look for this profession to continue to diversify in ways analogous to the way nurses have in the medical field.
- Trial Consultant – Trial consultants assist attorneys with many tasks during trial, drawing primarily upon skills in social sciences, psychology, sociology and the like. They also use technology to some extent, often supervising the work of others on a trial team so that an attorney can focus solely on legal issues.
- Mediator – Mediators, arbitrators and other resolution experts have enjoyed growth for well over ten years now. Why? Overall, the number of court cases that are actually litigated is quite low. Most cases are settled prior to trial, and many with the help of a resolution expert. As jurisdictions look for ways to eliminate or expedite trial matters – matters which are a drain on the time and resources of the court – look for more growth in this field. In California, for example, there is now an expedited jury trial system for small-value civil matters. I would not be surprised to see a new category or resolution experts who focus solely on such cases. Similarly, as the filing limit for small claims cases increases, so will the complexity. Thus, litigants will increasingly need assistance settling those cases.
- Jury Consultant – Jury consultants help provide lawyers with insight into the behavior of jurors in order to help the attorney determine how to best craft an argument and present trial themes in order to persuade the jury in a certain direction. A jury consultant may also use empirical data about potential jurors in order to help the attorney select the best possible jurors for the trial. Successful jury consultants can earn six figure salaries and may earn hundreds of thousands of dollars for the work performed on a single big-money case.
- Legal Secretary – Legal secretaries, which are also referred to as administrative assistants, are responsible for taking care of administrative duties such as answering phone calls, scheduling appointments and organizing files. As law office technology continues to advance, and paralegals take on more significant “attorney-like” duties, the responsibilities of legal secretaries have also continued to grow
- Compliance Specialist – Compliance specialists ensure corporations and consulting firms are in compliance with government regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Thanks to the numerous regulations that have been recently added to federal law, the need for qualified compliance specialists continues to grow. Look for substantial growth in areas such as health care, education, environmental and international trade concerns.
- Court Reporter – Court reports, which are also referred to as stenographers, are responsible for recording speeches, court testimony, legal proceedings and statements by creating a verbatim written transcript of everything that is said. Court reporters must use special stenographic equipment in order to record over 200 words per minute. Since fewer people are choosing to enter this profession, employment opportunities are growing as well as salaries for qualified individuals.
- Court Interpreters – To this list, I will add my own – #11. From my observation, working in a jurisdiction where there is great diversity among litigants, the role of court interpreter has taken on increasing importance. Many times, I have encouraged young students, in particular, who are bi-lingual to consider this very dynamic and well-compensated career choice. Getting into the court interpreter profession is not easy, but those who do enter it find it quite rewarding. As we continue to develop a global economy, I predict that court interpreters’ role will also diversify and include interpreting duties outside the formal court system.
- So You Want to be a Paralegal? (careeroverview.com)
- Update to “What is a Paralegal Anyways”? (ryancclark.wordpress.com)
- Alternative Career Feature: Legal Technology Consultant (justbelowthelaw.com)