This top ten list of attorney jobs was selected based upon the popularity of the jobs. Popularity is obviously judged by how common the jobs are, but there are a few things that determine popularity. Most people pick their job, because they are interested in that area or have some commitment to it. However, money is a factor as well.
1. Business and Corporate Lawyer
Corporate lawyers work for one client only, the company that hires them. Large companies may hire a whole team of lawyers, each one covering a different specialty. Banks and retail stores are examples of companies that will hire a corporate lawyer.
There are many different names for corporate lawyers, including Staff Attorney and Chief Legal Officer. Not only may they be asked to provide legal counsel to the company, but also they may called upon to provide business advice.
Corporate Lawyer Job Description and Necessary Skills
The job requires a wide range of skills, as they must fill various roles. Experience in corporate law is necessary, in addition to general knowledge of business and the specific industry of the company.
The corporate lawyer’s time may be taken up by meetings with both board members and management. Other duties may include, but are not limited to, negotiating employee contracts, preparing and filing government reports and structuring joint enterprises with other companies.
Corporate Lawyer Salary and Job Outlook
Corporate lawyers are known to make $66,000 to $170,000. The reason that it is so variable has to do with experience, among other things. You can start out on the low end of the scale and ascend to the higher end after years of experience.
Taking a few courses in business administration can help advancement in this type of law. One way of finding positions in this field is by simply contacting corporate law departments. Even if they are not looking for someone currently, they may meet with you for an informational session.
A Juris doctorate degree is required for the job. Most corporations require that you get a degree from a school approved by the American Bar Association. A license to practice law in a particular state is also required. Ongoing education is a must for lawyers in this field.
2. Criminal Defense Attorney
Everyone is familiar with this kind of attorney. Criminal lawyers represent people who are accused of wrongdoing against the laws of the United States. Criminal lawyers will usually try to settle the case without going to trial, but many times they must do so. According to the constitution, everyone has the right to be provided with a defense attorney.
Criminal Defense Attorney Job Description
The job of the criminal lawyer is to defend their client in the court system, whether at the local, state or federal level. The lawyer must be approved to represent cases in the courts at some particular level.
Their job includes but is not limited to, arraignments, trials, and sentencing hearings. A criminal lawyer will often represent many clients at the same time. Part of their job is to ensure that the client’s constitutional rights have not been breached.
Much of the time spent on a case pertains to the gathering of evidence. They gather police reports, testimonies and any other information about the case. They usually won’t do all of the evidence gathering themselves but will hire other people such as private investigators to help them.
Criminal lawyer has many different tasks relevant to their job. Some of these are the following: They interview witnesses, perform legal research, examine the crime scene and gather expert witnesses to testify in court.
Criminal Defense Attorney Salary and Job Outlook
While the average salary of a criminal lawyer is about $80,000, it can go as high as $130,000. Criminal lawyers actually make the lowest salary among lawyers. Other factors influence their desire to practice this kind of law. Perhaps, they have a desire to protect the innocent.
In terms of the career ladder, a criminal attorney may begin as a junior associate at a law firm. Eventually, they might make partner in that firm or some other firm. Despite the lower pay, competition is stiff in firms that practice this area of law.
Another avenue which is open to criminal lawyers is to work as a district attorney. District attorneys prosecute cases on behalf of the state. Another option is to work as a non-profit lawyer. These lawyers work for clients who cannot afford the services of a lawyer to represent them.
Criminal Defense Attorney Education
Criminal lawyers must have a juris doctorate and an attorney’s license to practice. Experience in criminal law is many times necessary before a position at a firm can be obtained. This can be gotten in a number of ways, including internships and other volunteer work.
3. Family and Divorce Lawyer
Almost half of the marriages in this country end in divorce. Nowadays, no-fault divorce has been approved in all fifty states. This ensures that the legal process of divorce is very easy to navigate. Divorce lawyers are kind civil lawyers who handle all of the legal issues that pertain to the divorce. These include legal separation and child visitation rights.
Family and Divorce Lawyer Job Description and Necessary Skills
There are a lot of legal issues involved in a divorce. Divorce attorneys handle the division of assets and debt among spouses. When the couple has children, the lawyers handle matters pertaining to visitation and child support.
Since divorce is a personal and thorny issue, divorce lawyers must be very adept at handling interpersonal issues. They must be good listeners and non-judgemental in promoting the best interests of their clients.
Family and Divorce Lawyer Salary and Job Outlook
The salary of a divorce lawyer can range from $48,000 to $80,000. As lawyers develop more experience, they may get a better rate.
Strong growth is expected in this sector of law because divorce is so common in the United States. However, the market might be flooded by new lawyers coming out of law school, so this kind of lawyer jobs may be more difficult to obtain still.
Family and Divorce Lawyer Education
There are no specific educational requirements for a divorce lawyer. The divorce lawyer must, however, pass the bar. Law schools offer courses in divorce law, sometimes offering certification.
A paralegal is a person trained in legal matters, who perform limited legal tasks for the lawyers who employ them. They have usually taken a prescribed set of courses that relate to their duties. An unlicensed paralegal cannot practice law. They handle much of the paperwork involved at law firms. They are also responsible for much of the research that a firm must obtain.
Skills Paralegals Need
Paralegal jobs require a specific skill set that includes both intellectual and personal qualities. Paralegals must be discreet and use good judgment, be able to work well under pressure, and have no problem with deadlines.
The training for paralegals includes a general background in law and legal terms, and a knowledge of contracts and other legal documents. They must have excellent research skills. These may be picked up both in school and on the job itself.
Types of Paralegals
Here is a list of types of paralegals that is not comprehensive.
- Estate Planning Paralegal
Also known as probate paralegals, they help create documents associated with wills, trusts and probate forms. They also help clients through the probate process in general.
- Real Estate Paralegal
These paralegals deal with titles, deeds of trusts and similar documents. They also deal with closing processes and transfer of assets. Foreclosures and defaults on loans are also part of their job.
- Insurance Paralegal
These paralegals assist with insurance fraud, questionable claims and other insurance issues. Insurance paralegals work within a law firm or for insurance companies.
- Employment Law Paralegal
These paralegals assist in issues relating to employment, such as hiring and firing, workplace discrimination and sexual harassment, among other issues.
- Bankruptcy Paralegals
This is a very common type of paralegal, and there are a lot of jobs open in this area. They are involved in the many documents and processes related to bankruptcy.
- Immigration Paralegal
These paralegals assist people in the process of becoming United States citizens. As they work with clients from other cultures, it is many times necessary to be fluent in a number of languages.
The education required for paralegal jobs has not yet been totally determined. However, employers look for people with a well-rounded knowledge of the law, plus specific knowledge and experience in the legal field that they practice.
5. Personal Injury Lawyers
Attorney jobs that deal with personal injury concern civil and tort law. The area of tort law deals with acts that cause harm but cannot be prosecuted under criminal law. Injuries can be of a physical, mental or emotional nature.
The following are some of the types of cases that personal injury lawyers may take: Product fault and liability, medical malpractice and harm, slander libel and defamation and injuries occurring while on someone else’s land or property.
Personal Injury Lawyers Job Description and Skills
Many times, a personal injury lawyer will try to settle out of court. If an agreement can’t be reached, then it must go to trial. This kind of lawyer’s main purpose is to see that justice and compensation is awarded to the injured party.
Personal injury can be a very complex field. For this reason, a lawyer may choose to specialize in a very narrow type of personal injury law.
Personal injury lawyers must be able to advocate well for their clients. They must possess strong research and analytical skills to develop their case.
Personal Injury Lawyers Salary and Job Outlook
Personal injury lawyers usually don’t pursue an hourly rate. They usually take a percentage of the award that their client receives. Their average salary is variable. It is $73,000, but those that work for a top firm earn significantly more. The job outlook is now generally good for personal injury because there are many firms that have a large percentage of their money coming from personal injury cases. However, reforms in the law that aim at reducing the awards that can be collected threaten to reduce this demand.
Personal Injury Lawyers Education
To practice personal injury law, one must have an undergraduate degree plus a Juris doctor. There are a number of tests that must be passed, including the bar exam. Special certification is required by the American Bar Association. The personal injury lawyer must continue their education to keep up with changes in their field.
6. Civil Rights Attorney
In the United States, the rights of citizens are outlined in the Bill of Rights and are constitutional. In addition, congress enacts civil rights acts.
Civil rights attorneys help protect people against discrimination and harassment because of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and other dispositions. They also help protect freedoms of privacy, expression and speech and religion, amongst other freedoms.
Many times, a person becomes a civil rights attorney, because they are passionate about protecting the rights of one particular group. They, therefore, specialize in one issue or some cluster of issues.
The job of the civil rights attorney is to apprise individuals of their rights in a particular area and pursue a monetary award from any offending individuals or groups. This type of case is a civil suit.
Some of what lawyer jobs such as this entail are the following: Presenting cases to judges and juries, formulating legal briefs, investigating legal data and negotiating settlements of legal disputes.
Salary and Career Outlook
Attorney jobs in this field can be in the private sector or the public sector. Those in the public sector are competitive to get. The salary range for civil rights lawyers is between $69,000 and $145,000. As with any lawyer position, the salary rises with experience.
Civil rights attorneys must have a bachelor’s degree and a juris doctor law degree. Anyone who wishes to work in this area must develop a resume that shows their level of commitment to their cause. In law school, they should try to take as many courses as possible in constitutional law.
Civil rights firms prefer a candidate that has a lot of knowledge on one particular issue, rather than a smattering of many different issues. It is advisable before getting a job to serve as a volunteer for some firm.
7. Immigration Lawyer
Every year, the United States allows one million foreigners the chance to become Legal Permanent Residents. Many lawyers are committed to helping these people achieve their dream of United States citizenship. Lawyers in this area must have thorough knowledge of all aspects of law in addition to the areas of immigration, citizenship and employment.
Job Description and Skills
The immigration attorney rarely has to go into court and instead offers legal counsel to their clients. They are concerned with such issues as: Acquiring U.S. citizenship, deportation, filing for political asylum or refugee status and obtaining a green card, amongst other issues.
The process of applying for a green card can take many years. The attorney makes sure that the employer satisfies all the requirements and files all of the documents necessary.
An immigration attorney works with people who speak a foreign language, so it is necessary for them to speak that language. They must have strong interpersonal skills, as they must deal with people from another culture. They must also have strong research and analytical skills to deal with the complex data that accompanies each case.
Salary and career Outlook
Immigration lawyers may be employed by the government or may be in private practice. The average salary is fairly high, around $130,000. Unlike in criminal cases, the government does not supply a foreigner with an immigration lawyer. Some lawyers offer their services for free or at a reduced rate.
Jobs in law in general are supposed to increase, but the difficulty of getting into a good law program is supposed to intensify. It is many times easier to get a job in a rural area than an urban one.
In order to practice in this area, you will need an undergraduate degree plus a juris doctor law degree. You must also pass the Bar exam. During law school, you must take courses related to the area.
8. Real Estate Lawyer
Real estate lawyers do two different things. Either they act as litigators or they handle the legal aspects of real estate transactions. Some real estate lawyers specialize in some area. This could be in disclosure fraud and mortgage fraud or some other area.
Job Description and Skills
Real estate lawyers who deal with transactions may be involved in the preparation and review of documents, the negotiation of terms and conditions and the transference of titles.
The real estate lawyer must have sharp analytical and communication skills. They must have a strong background in business law. Time management and organizational skills are necessary, because the lawyer is usually handling many cases and documents at any given time.
Salary and Career Outlook
The average salary of a real estate attorney is $118,000. Their salary depends upon their experience and the size of firm that they work for. Since there has been a recession in the housing market, the number of these type of positions has declined.
Some real estate lawyers work in private practice and some work for the government. Those who work for the government may deal with zoning and building. Those who are in small firms or are on their own most likely will deal with residential real estate issues.
A real estate lawyer must possess a juris doctorate degree and pass the bar exam to obtain their attorney’s license. Law schools many times have a specialization in real estate law. Ongoing education is required by many states.
9. Bankruptcy Lawyer
Trying economic times actually help the job market for bankruptcy lawyers. Unemployment rates go up, and it is hard for people to pay their bills.
The job of a bankruptcy lawyer is to help individuals or groups of individuals through the process of filing for bankruptcy. Work hours for this type of lawyer tend to be long. Meetings with clients many times take place during the evening, when it does not conflict with their schedules.
Job Description and Skills
Bankruptcy lawyers work either for individuals or for the companies that are trying to collect debts from them.
These lawyers may try to reorganize the debts of their clients, so that they do not have to go into full bankruptcy.
Since they spend some time in court, bankruptcy lawyers must have litigation skills and transaction skills. Strong communication skills are necessary for both in court time as well as when they must guide clients through the complex process.
Having knowledge of finance is an essential aspect of this field, in addition to skills in analysis, negotiation and math.
Salary and Job Outlook
The private sector jobs are the higher paying ones in this field. The average salary is $113,000.
While this field has been competitive due to more law school graduates in recent years, the economic downturn has meant more jobs are available.
A juris doctorate degree is required as well as an attorney’s license. There are courses that are relevant to the field that the student can take. Graduating from a prestigious law firm puts you at an advantage. If you wish to specialize in this field, you can get a master’s of law in bankruptcy. Ongoing education is a must for those who wish to keep up with the field.
10. Estate Planning Attorney
The estate planning attorney will help with the tools that a client needs for the disposal of their estate. These attorneys will help their clients determine the distribution of their estate. They also aid in the establishment of trusts. Drafting wills and trusts is a large part of their job.
Job Description and Skills
These kind of lawyers must have a thorough knowledge of state and federal tax laws, wills, property and real estate. Financial knowledge is also key in handling the client’s assets. An estate law attorney must also keep up with the current state of tax laws.
Salary and Career Outlook
The salary of an estate attorney is determined by their level of experience, the size of the firm that they work for and its location. The median salary for this type of lawyer is $64,000. Self-employed estate lawyers and those who work for a foundation or a trust brought in the highest salaries.
With hard economic times, many people might delay their estate planning, which might affect the number of jobs available. However, with more people retiring, there might some more hope.
In order to practice, an estate attorney must have a juris doctorate and pass the bar exam in the state where they wish to practice. In law school, one can take many courses which are relevant to the practice of this kind of attorney. Several law schools offer certification programs in this area as well. An estate lawyer must also be trained in Uniform Probate Code, which imposes rules and limits to wills and trusts.