When you were growing up, did you ever dream of being an attorney? Television shows like Law & Order and movies like A Few Good Men certainly make law seem like a thrilling, glamorous, and rewarding career choice. On TV, attorneys get to grill a defendant until he or she breaks down in tears and confesses to a crime, wear expensive tailored suits as they pace across the courtroom during closing arguments, and dramatically shout “Objection!” when they disagree with something the opposing counsel is saying. Exciting stuff, right?
Outside of the big and small screens, however, the field of law is vast and varied, and not every attorney spends time in court breaking down the bad guys. In fact, more than 90 percent of criminal cases never make it to a court trial; instead, defendants plead guilty or negotiate a lighter sentence instead of trying their luck with a jury. Aside from criminal defense attorneys, there are also corporate attorneys, real estate attorneys, tax attorneys, patent attorneys, personal estate attorneys, civil attorneys, and many more specialties.
Attorneys make up just a small portion of the law ecosphere, however. It takes a lot of people with different talents and skills to manage the ever-growing needs of the various judicial systems. If you love being involved in some aspect of law but aren’t sure you want to be an attorney, there are lots of careers that will get you near the action and help you contribute to a better, safer, or more compliant society. Here are just a few of the more interesting law-related careers.
As law specialties go, a focus on cannabis law is definitely one of the newer, more intriguing, and most geographically-limited options. In the 1990s five US states—California, Alaska, Oregon, Maine, and Washington—legalized the sale of marijuana for medical purposes. During the next decade, eight more states passed similar laws, with 16 more states having done the same since 2010. In addition, nine US states have now legalized marijuana for recreational use. Outside the United States, as well, legalization of cannabis for various uses is speeding up, and laws are already in place in many countries.
With marijuana legalization came a new set of laws and regulations for everyone within the cannabis industry, from crop cultivators to retail dispensary owners to manufacturers of cannabis-infused products. And of course, there was a need for attorneys to help those in the industry navigate this new and confusing legal world.
McAllister Garfield, a group of medical marijuana attorneys in California, offer a wide range of services that cater to cannabis clients, including marijuana dispensary representation, marijuana business formation, regulatory compliance, licensing, pesticides, tax and real estate law. They also provide services to cannabis-related industries like those dealing in hemp or medical CBD oil (Cannabidiol). Because each state has different rules and regulations that vary even from the state to local level, cannabis attorneys have to be intimately familiar with applicable law in every state that allows any sort of cannabis use, and stay up-to-date with every aspect of this rapidly-evolving industry. Cannabis is a fast-growing industry (no pun intended), and as more states expand usage laws, the need for attorneys specializing in the field will expand accordingly.
A conveyancer oversees the legal process of the transfer of property ownership from one party to another. However, a conveyancer is not always an attorney. In the United States, especially, the role of transferring property—usually real estate—from one person to another is often handled by realtors and title companies. This varies from state to state, of course, but as a whole, real estate contracts are standardized and streamlined to meet the standards of almost any state.
Individuals holding the title of “conveyancer” are still mandatory participants in property transfers outside the US, including the UK and Australia. In these countries, conveyancers are specialist property lawyers who focus on transactions of transference. Because of this specialization, conveyancers are skilled in the conveyancing process and all of its accompanying paperwork.
Using a conveyancer for your transaction rather than an attorney (or “solicitor” as they are called outside the US) is also more cost-efficient. KRG Conveyancing, a group of conveyancers in Brisbane, Australia, offers a fixed-price structure that includes managing any delays or obstacles that may arise, while attorneys typically charge by the hour for any type of service.
Personal Injury Attorney
A popular specialization for attorneys is personal injury, representing clients who have been injured in some manner by another individual, a business, or even a large corporation. The personal injury field has become such a popular and lucrative option for attorneys that firms and individual lawyers now have sub-specializations, such as representing victims of motorcycle or tractor-trailer accidents, filing class actions suits against drug companies or the manufacturers of defective products, and even pursuing suits against the owners of dogs that have bitten and injured someone.
Personal injury suits make up a large portion of all court cases. In fact, more than 2600 new personal injury cases were filed in federal and state courts in August 2018 alone. As new products and pharmaceuticals are developed, more people take to the roads in cars, motorcycles, or large trucks, and as a growing workforce subjects more people to industrial and on-the-job accidents, the number of personal injury attorneys needed to manage civil cases will continue to grow. Case in point: According to the Moore Law Firm, an auto accident lawyer in Mobile, Alabama, a person is injured in an automobile accident in the state every 15 minutes; many of these accident victims will seek the assistance of a personal injury attorney to help recoup medical and repair expenses and recoup lost wages.
Law Support Services
Although there are many new and interesting specialties for attorneys, there are also a vast number of opportunities for those who enjoy being part of the legal landscape, but prefer a law career other than lawyer. The more legal services are needed from attorneys, the more opportunities present themselves, both inside and outside of the courtroom.
For example, attorneys rely upon contracted consultants for a variety of support services. Jury consultants use empirical and experience in behavioral sciences to help lawyers predict which potential jury members should be more favorable to the lawyer’s client’s case. Legal nurse consultants provide advice and explanations to attorneys who are involved in medical cases. Similarly, trial consultants offer research and technical services to help attorneys prove facts and present complex ideas in a way the jury can understand.
Law firms often include teams of skilled professionals who provide full-time services for attorneys. Electronic discovery (e-discovery) is one of the fastest growing opportunities within this field. An e-discovery professional will utilize technology and research skills to discover, manage, and store the records an attorney will need for a case. Paralegals or legal assistants are also in high demand, as they can often perform many of the legal tasks within a firm that don’t require attorneys, therefore freeing up the attorney’s time for more important work.
With the number of attorneys and potential cases growing by leaps and bounds, many firms rely upon outside business service providers to help them manage the day-to-day needs of the practice. Like the attorneys themselves, these providers have created law-related niches to serve the industry. Just Legal Marketing, for example, specializes in providing online marketing for law firms. Other support services include transcription, website design, printing, and even library management services.