Prelaw degrees are easily one of the most underrated majors pursued, so much so that many schools don’t even offer this as a major. However, this degree not only prepares prospective students for law school, but also offers some immediate career paths (as varied as they are prestigious); many of which are jobs that can be held while pursuing your law school degree.
Prelaw majors enroll in a wide variety of courses to prepare them for the different careers available. These classes range from history and philosophy to political science and psychology. Prelaw students are taught to think analytically and critically as well as have a deep understanding of human behavior – after all, so many of the careers available require you to deduce how trustworthy a source is.
Just what are those careers? Let’s dive into it.
For starters, with a prelaw degree you can become a paralegal – a career that’s grown by 17%. Typically, you need some form of certification to become a paralegal, but there are many companies that accept new employees with a prelaw degree and offer on-the-job training for them.
In terms of the paralegal duties, paralegals are the legal assistants to lawyers. Paralegals write the reports, develop the proper documentation for a case, make trial notes, and even conduct interviews with clients and witnesses. In addition, a paralegal does just about anything the supervising attorney assigns them. For that reason, the tasks are varied and manifold.
All this said, paralegals CANNOT provide legal advice to a client or try cases themselves – that can only be done after law school. Of course, given the amount of work to be done as a paralegal, this may come as a relief. In some respects, paralegals are to attorneys what nurses are to doctors.
Paralegals are far from the only career path however. Another venue graduating prelaw students take is private investigation. Private investigators conduct research, background checks, surveillance, and occasionally confront people face-to-face.
Becoming a P.I. is a bit like taking on an entrepreneurial role. The hours vary and you often work more hours than a standard 9-5 job which can make it challenging to be a private investigator and attend law school at the same time. That said, the work can be among the most interesting. You could be hired by a company seeking background checks on potential hires or a spouse wanting to know if their partner is cheating. The best thing about being a P.I. however is there is no shortage of interesting cases, so if you need variety to stay engaged in your work, this may be the career path for you.
A labor relations specialist is an excellent choice for people interested in getting into politics or holding public office. Typically, a labor relations specialist is hired by companies in a sort of human resources role. Their job is to negotiate contracts between employers and their employees. This can include (and is not limited to) changing working conditions, determining benefits and rates (or raises) for advancement.
The other venue many prelaw students take who are interested in labor relations, is politics. This doesn’t necessarily mean running for public office (although it can), but many people can serve as political aides, providing advisory council to people running. Obviously, many people turn to this type of career due to the rewarding feeling that comes from their work; they feel like they’re making a difference.
All that said, there are also a wide variety of careers open to you after attending Law School as well.
Passing the Bar
After students obtain their prelaw degree, many pursue law school immediately thereafter. To do that, you need to take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). On its own, this test is challenging to say the least – and it’s why many prelaw graduates are better prepared.
Of course, the next step is applying to different law schools (although only ones that are ABA-approved – there are only 200 or so) and sending your samples and transcripts to LSAC – which then passes your papers on to all the law schools you’ve applied to.
So, once you’ve passed your LSAT, been accepted into law school, completed your courses, and passed the Bar exam, then you can move forward into a wide variety of careers.
The foremost obvious choice is becoming an attorney. Attorneys are lawyers that provide legal counsel for a wide array of clients ranging from civil suits to criminal cases or corporate law. Chances are good that once you’ve passed the bar, you already know what kind of lawyer you want to be, so here’s a rundown of all the choices available.
You could become a trial lawyer which is a very active role and depends heavily on your charisma. A trial lawyer must master public speaking and the art of persuasion after all, you’re trying to convince an objective audience to believe your side of the story – and your side can differ greatly depending on whether you choose to be a plaintiff’s lawyer or the defendant’s attorney. You must have an analytical eye and be able to adapt on the fly.
Another route you can take is to become a corporate lawyer. A corporate lawyer is less in the public eye and works with numbers, businesses, and financing if that’s more your forte. Corporate lawyers make air-tight contracts for B2B companies and ensures that all transactions are legal, abiding by the state and federal laws. This becomes especially important with businesses developing their own intellectual properties or for pharmaceutical companies. Of course, even businesses simply looking to expand their headquarters benefit from a corporate lawyer to ensure they’re following proper zoning laws.
Whichever route you decide to take, a prelaw degree will help you get there; whether you’re looking to work immediately after or take the LSAT and move on to law school. There’s no better place to obtain your prelaw degree than at Warner Pacific College.