Law and Legal Degrees & Certificates

The legal profession offers opportunities to help others while also being well-compensated.

Lawyers require the most education in the legal profession, but there are also good prospects with lesser educational requirements for paralegals, legal secretaries, legal assistants, court reporters, arbitrators, and mediators

The job outlook for legal occupations is good, with growth projected at 5% throughout the 2020s, faster than the growth rate for all occupations.

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Making a Case for a Great Career

What You Will Learn

Law students earn the Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree as a prerequisite to practice law in the United States. Curriculum covers such subjects as civil procedure, criminal law, constitutional law, and contracts. Paralegals and legal assistants typically require an associate degree, though a bachelor’s degree in paralegal positions may be required to work at major law firms.

What You Can Earn

$50,000-$175,000: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics cites a median annual salary of $52,920 for paralegals and legal assistants, and $66,130 for mediators and arbitrators. The median pay for lawyers is $126,930, but location matters. Montana lawyers average $88,600 in annual pay, while California lawyers nearly double that with $171,500.

What to Set Your Sights On

Law school graduates must pass the bar examination in a specific state or territory as a prerequisite for practicing law in that jurisdiction.

The Origins of the Legal Profession

The orators of ancient Athens are the precursors to today’s lawyers, while Emperor Claudius of ancient Rome paved the way for lawyers to charge for their services.

A Day in the Life of a Lawyer

Lawyers spend a lot of time reading and preparing legal documents, but they also put in tons of hours advising clients, representing them in court, and conferring with colleagues.

By the Numbers

Currently there are more than 1.3 million lawyers in the United States.