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Choose the Right Legal Education
for Your Career Dreams

by Amanda Daflos

If you've thought about continuing your legal education program, understanding your options regarding legal careers and legal education programs is essential. To be able to make a confident decision it is advisable to understand course offerings and the potential job opportunities that will be available to you once you've completed the legal education of your choice.

To Be or Not to Be a Lawyer

If you are interested in a career working as an attorney, you will be required to complete the traditional legal degree, the Juris Doctorate. Once you have completed these legal degree, which should take three years of full-time study, you will be required to take the bar examination in order to practice as an attorney. Keep in mind that each state has its own bar exam; therefore it is generally a good idea to complete your legal schooling in the place you plan to practice law, so that your legal education program covers a portion of what will appear on the law exam.

The World of Legal Administration

If you hope to work in the legal world but don't want to work as an attorney, there are many other legal career choices that will enable you to work in the sector. As a paralegal, a legal assistant, or a legal secretary, you will be required to earn a degree that trains you to handle the nature of the legal work you will encounter. While these careers are administrative in nature, training is rigorous because of the capacity and complexity of the legal work you will handle. Legal training can generally be completed in less than three years of full-time study.

Where to Go to Get the Goods

There are many schools that offer online learning programs that will help you earn the legal degree you choose. Possible qualifications include a degree in legal administration, Associate of Science in Criminal Justice with specializations in Corrections, Probation and Parole and Law Enforcement, Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies, Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, and Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration degree program. Online schools are proud of the fine quality and convenience of their distance learning programs, which enable students to earn their legal degree while they work and maintain their regular ways of living.

What Kind of Legal Classes Will I Need to Take?

As a student working towards earning the traditional legal degree in order to work as an attorney, classes range from property law and contract law all the way to ethics classes. You will spend your time acquiring the skills you will need to work as a lawyer. As a law student working towards a degree in paralegal studies, you will take law classes geared towards teaching you important legal points while improving your research and analytical skills. Legal secretaries learn how to deal with formatting issues and legal document organization and management.

What Kinds of Legal Jobs are Available?

Depending on the legal career path you choose, you will be qualified to work in that particular capacity in law firms, corporate law departments, and government agencies in their legal section. Depending on what area of law you choose to focus on, for instance environmental law or immigration law, you will be able to work for firms that specialize in that area of law.

What Can I Expect My Salary to Be?

According to the US Department of Labor (2010), The median annual wage of lawyers was $112,760 in May 2010. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $54,130, and the top 10 percent earned more than $166,400. 

Paralegal salaries depend on legal education, training, experience, type and size of employer, and geographic location of the job. In general, paralegals who work for large law firms or in large metropolitan areas earn more than those who work for smaller firms or in less populated regions (U.S. Department of Labor).

The median annual wage of paralegals and legal assistants was $46,680 in May 2010. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,460, and the top 10 percent earned more than $74,870.

In general, paralegals that work for large law firms or in large cities earn more than those who work for smaller firms or in smaller cities. 

If your heart is set on a legal career, make sure you understand the all the options before enrolling. After that, an online program could be the way forward to a future in the career of your dreams.

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