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10 Hot Legal Careers for Non-Lawyers

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When most people consider a career in the legal field, they think of lawyers. However, a number of satisfying, lucrative legal career opportunities exist that do not require a time-consuming, expensive legal education. The legal market is thriving. New regulations, economic growth, advances in technology and rising caseloads have fueled the demand for a growing range of talented legal professionals. Below is an overview of several rewarding legal career opportunities.

1. E-Discovery Professional

Young woman using computer in office
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Electronic discovery (“e-discovery”) is a $2 billion industry and e-discovery professionals are at the heart of it. These tech-savvy legal professionals help identify, preserve and manage electronically stored information (ESI) in litigation. Recent changes in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and growing volumes of ESI have given rise to this new profession to address the electronic realities of a digital age. The field is predicted to reach $21.8 billion by the year 2011, creating an unprecedented demand for e-discovery skills and pushing salaries to new levels.

2. Legal Nurse Consultant

Nurses seeking to expand their career opportunities beyond traditional clinical roles can apply their expertise to the growing and lucrative field of legal nurse consulting. According to CareerBuilder.com, legal nurse consulting is one of the ten hottest careers today. Legal nurse consultants advise attorneys in medically-related issues of the law and earn up to $200 an hour.

3. Litigation Support Professional

The increased automation of legal processes in the last decade has spawned a new occupation in the legal field: the litigation support professional (LSP). This cutting-edge profession combines the legal knowledge of paralegals with the technical skills of IT professionals.

4. Paralegal

Paralegals (also called legal assistants) rank among one of the fastest growing professions in todays' economy as overburdened attorneys delegate an ever-widening scope of tasks. Voted as one of the 20 top jobs in America by CNN.Money, opportunities in the paralegal field are expanding as clients seek to reduce the cost of legal services. Paralegal compensation is also rising as paralegals assume higher-level responsibilities, assume larger management roles and operate with greater professional autonomy.

5. Trial Consultant

As technology continues to re-shape todays' legal landscape, a new profession has evolved to assist attorneys with their technology needs at trial to give them an advantage in the courtroom. Drawing on the fields of psychology, sociology and the law, trial consultants employ legal technology to help a jury understand complex concepts and help attorneys communicate important themes.

6. Mediator

With litigation costs skyrocketing, more individuals and corporations are turning to mediators (also known as an arbitrators or conciliators) to settle their legal disputes outside the courtroom. As the field of alternative dispute resolution expands, mediators are growing in number and popularity.

7. Jury Consultant

In high-stakes jury trials, lawyers rely on jury consultants to gain a winning edge. Jury consultants provide insight into juror behavior and help attorneys craft arguments and trial themes that will persuade juries. Jury consultants also use empirical data to predict juror predispositions and provide invaluable assistance in voir dire and the jury selection process. Jury consultants have grown in popularity due to highly publicized trials including the O.J. Simpson, Scott Peterson and Martha Stewart trials. In big-money cases, jury consultant fees can total hundreds of thousands of dollars. Successful jury consultants often earn six figure salaries.

8. Legal Secretary

Increased demand for legal services has sparked opportunities for legal secretaries (also called administrative assistants) in law firms and corporate legal departments across the country. Advances in law office technology and organizational restructuring have allowed legal secretaries to assume greater responsibilities.

9. Compliance Specialist

With the recent passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which prompted the enactment of a host of new regulations, regulatory compliance is one of the hottest legal career options today. Compliance specialists work for corporations and consulting firms, coordinating and monitoring the myriad of governmental, regulatory and compliance documents required by new changes in federal law.

10. Court Reporter

Court reporters, also known as stenographers, record court testimony, speeches, statements and legal proceedings to create a verbatim written transcript of the spoken word. Using special stenographic equipment, court reporters transcribe at rates exceeding 200 words per minute. Court reporters also perform broadcast captioning and real-time reporting for webcasts. Fewer people are entering the profession, creating a court reporter shortage and boosting salaries. Some court reporters earn over six figures, according to Forbes.com.

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