Posted February 23, 2015 by

Five Careers to Consider Before Going to Law School

Attorney at law sitting at desk holding pen with files with a card for Mediation

Attorney at law sitting at desk holding pen with files with a card for Mediation. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Many students enter their college education with a plan for going to law school. The reasons for this decision vary, but many students intend to go to law school because they have a desire to help others and/or they like the salary prospects. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), lawyers make around $113,000 a year. However, in a study reported by the Washington Post, only about 30% of lawyers are actually happy in their profession. While being a lawyer is a good career—and certainly a necessary one in our society—law practice is not a good fit for everyone. Here are some great ideas in the field that might be a better fit for you:

1. Forensic Psychology

This field is often described as the intersection of psychology and the law. People in this field can work in jobs like jury consulting, criminal profiling, and victim advocacy. Forensic psychologists generally have a Master’s degree or higher in forensic psychology. The BLS states that forensic psychologists generally earn about $60,000 a year. According to an article posted in the American Psychological Association’s career center, job satisfaction among forensic psychologists is high. It is often described as a career for thrill-seekers.

2. Mediator

These are individuals who will help settle legal disputes outside the courtroom. Their clients agree to arbitration, the mediator’s goal to create compromise. They often work in conflict resolution lawsuits, such as divorce or small claims. Mediators do not have to pass a bar exam or have a law degree. However, the job does require a good amount of legal knowledge and conflict resolution skills. A bachelor degree is necessary for a career as a mediator. This is a great fit for college graduates with pre-law background who might be rethinking law school. The BLS reports an average yearly income of around $61,000. In addition, mediators lead less stressful and happier lives than many of their lawyer counterparts.

3. Detective

Detectives are law enforcement personnel who find the facts related to a crime. They will work with lawyers to help build a case against a criminal. Their job is to find the truth and not necessarily defend a client. Detectives usually have a bachelor degree in criminal justice or legal studies. The BLS states their yearly earnings in the range of $60,000. Detectives also get the opportunity to make their communities safer, which leads to a definite feeling of satisfaction.

4. Foreign Service Officer

Foreign Service officers are employed by the government and stationed in other countries to promote the image of America and to act as diplomats. They need as extensive knowledge of conflict resolution and critical reasoning, qualities a pre-law major will spend four years developing. Foreign Service officers must pass a qualifying exam and go through paid training. Beginning Foreign Service officers can make over $75,000 a year. In addition, benefits like getting to travel the world can make the Foreign Service a very exciting career.

5. Paralegal

According to Sara Benz, who holds an online Paralegal degree, this is a perfect career for a pre-law student rethinking law school. Paralegals do a lot of the legwork for lawyers on their cases. In larger law firms, paralegals earn about $60,000 a year. For a pre-law student becoming a paralegal is as simple as applying for a job. Reported job satisfaction among paralegals is significantly higher than it is among lawyers.

About the Author: Emma is a writer living in Boston, MA. She writes most often on health and education.

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