Understanding relevant business and civil laws is critical to running a successful business. Laws constantly change and can become complex, so corporations and government agencies regularly hire individuals in the legal field to help navigate through laws and protect the organization. Earning a bachelor’s degree in legal studies provides students with a general understanding of how the legal system works. If you are considering a legal studies degree, you should know the career paths available to you.
Paralegals, also called legal assistants, help lawyers with a variety of supporting tasks. They mostly work in law firms, government agencies and corporate legal departments. General duties of a paralegal may include researching relevant laws and articles related to a case, investigating the facts of a case, organizing information lawyers need for a trial and drafting correspondences and documents. The specific duties of a paralegal typically depend on the size of the law firm. The duties of paralegals working in smaller firms tend to vary; they often handle cases from beginning to end. In contrast, the duties of a paralegal in a large law firm may revolve around only a particular phase of a case, such as reviewing legal material.
People interested in law enforcement can find career opportunities at local, state and federal agencies. Local and state law enforcement jobs include state troopers, uniformed police officers, sheriffs, detectives and investigators. Common duties of local and state officers include enforcing the law, investigating crimes, responding to patrol calls and issuing citations for breaking traffic laws. Federal law enforcement career options include working as an agent for the FBI, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Border Patrol. Like local officers, federal agents also investigate crimes, arrest suspects, gather evidence and interview witnesses.
The role of a contract administrator is critical to the success of a business because contracts are binding legal documents. Once a company signs a contract, it is legally obligated to fulfill its duties. Contract administrators are responsible for drafting, reviewing, analyzing and revising contracts. Common employers of contract administrators include corporations, law offices, government agencies and labor organizations. Contract administrators identify the requirements needed in a contract before it can be agreed upon and negotiate the terms of a contract with vendors and clients. In addition to drafting and reviewing contracts, administrators also maintain relationships with clients and vendors, use software to keep accurate records and investigate and resolve contractual disputes.
A career in politics is another choice for people with a legal studies degree. While some desire to become elected officials, others choose a career that thrives on the ability to persuade politicians to vote for their interests. Lobbyists work for big businesses, small organizations and private individuals. They use charts, graphs, reports and other documentation to support their position when meeting with politicians. Although lobbyists cannot make large donations to politicians, they often raise money for re-election campaigns. Working as a lobbyist requires you to make persuasive arguments and be well-informed and self-confident.
2016 Salary Information for Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants earned a median annual salary of $49,500 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, paralegals and legal assistants earned a 25th percentile salary of $38,230, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $63,640, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 285,600 people were employed in the U.S. as paralegals and legal assistants.