I Am Not a Lawyer: Law and Criminology Related Careers to Consider
When people think of careers relating to law, they probably imagine some of the people present in a courthouse during a trial. They mostly think of lawyers and judges, arguing their cases and making decisions about the outcome of a charge. But there are many other careers in and around the law that are essential to the process. Some roles might require a knowledge of the law, while others involve giving an expert opinion on another field. If you want to work in a career related to crime and the law, but being a lawyer or even taking a law degree aren’t for you, there are other options. For example, you could be a court reporter, a police officer or forensic scientist. Find out what options you have by reading on about some law-adjacent and related careers.
If you would like to be out in the community working with a broad range of people, joining the police force could be a good option for you. A police officer’s job isn’t just to arrest people, but to help get the facts of any incident and help protect the people and area they serve. In a typical day, you could be attending a car accident, taking statements from witnesses to a crime or giving evidence in court. Every day is different, with new challenges and experiences. Police officers need to have finished high school, and they sometimes need to have some college experience too. You also need to be physically and psychologically fit to make it into the training program. There are lots of opportunities for advancement in this career too, so you don’t have to view it as just a job.
If you want to work in the court environment but you don’t wish to be a lawyer, choosing a career as a court reporter is another option. Court reporters take records of legal recordings in court, and they may also use their skills elsewhere. The job involves using shorthand to type a record of everything said in the courtroom. This is done using a stenographic machine. They need to be able to type 200 words per minute and read back what they have written when asked. As well as knowing about the practices involved in record taking and reporting, they also need to have knowledge of legal and medical terminology. Without it, they would be unable to transcribe everything they hear accurately.
Many careers adjacent to the field of law involve providing an expert opinion as evidence. Using these testimonies, judges and juries can make better-informed decisions. One such role is that of a forensic psychiatrist. This person assesses someone’s mental health and gives an independent opinion. Forensic psychiatry can be useful in many situations. These range from child custody cases to criminal matters where the mental health of the accused needs to be determined. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor. So a forensic psychiatrist needs to have attended medical school. They also need to have had training in applying psychiatry in legal situations.
Law Clerks and Judicial Clerks
Anyone who enjoys research might like to consider becoming a law clerk. This role involves performing research and other tasks for a number of people and organizations. You might work with a law firm and lawyers or take up a position in the courts. If you work with a judge, you have the position of judicial clerk. Usually to become a law clerk you need a degree in legal studies or a law clerk diploma, as a minimum. The clerk does a lot of behind the scenes work, helping lawyers to build their case so they can take it to court. Judicial clerk positions are harder to get, so many judicial clerks have a law degree and have perhaps even passed the bar.
Legal Administrative Assistant
Another job where you can work without a degree in legal studies is that of a legal administrative assistant. However, many legal secretaries gain an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. They can go on to complete a certification to become a legal secretary. Although admin assistants may not be arguing in court, they are the backbone of a legal office. They perform tasks such as answering phones and sending and receiving correspondence. They might also perform filing, welcome clients and train new staff. They keep the office running smoothly, and still need some legal knowledge so they can perform their job well.
There are many career options in forensics for doctors and scientists who want to work in a legal and criminological capacity. An important role is the position of a forensic pathologist. In this job, a medically trained doctor examines the bodies of anyone who died suddenly, violently or unnaturally. It’s their duty to work out how the person died, and help to decide whether a crime was committed. As well as performing an autopsy and related tests, they also evaluate evidence from crime scenes and study a patient’s medical history.
Legal Aid Positions
If you’re passionate about criminal and social justice and want to work with a range of people, think about a career in legal aid. Legal aid is intended to help those who cannot afford their own legal representation. It is provided for free or for a discounted price, to ensure that being able to defend yourself isn’t dependent on your income. A legal aid office employs several other professionals, as well as lawyers. They also use mediators, counselors and law students to help them run their operations. Many people enjoy working in a legal aid office. They feel that they can do something for disadvantaged people who might otherwise not be able to get the help they need.
There is a vast number of careers relating to criminology and the law. Anyone who is interested in either of these fields will find many options to choose from. Whether you want to attend many years of school or enter a new career straight after high school, there are roles you can choose from.