Law Navigational Guide: Best Concentrations in Law

law school degrees

Generally, lawyers advocate for others, such as those accused of a myriad of crimes; however, other attorneys are hired to represent individuals in divorce, tax evasion, child custody or real estate cases and the like. In all aspects of life, a lawyer’s services can be rendered. Through earning your law degree, you can help others in their time of despair.

Primarily, in the United States, the study of law is divided into two categories, criminal law and civil law. A case in which the federal or state government claims a person or group has participated in a crime is called criminal law. These cases are almost always determined by a court of arbitration and can result in imprisonment. A civil law case is brought forth by individuals seeking justice and is heard by a judge, rather than a jury. Civil cases often result in fines, rather than imprisonment. You can decide which type of law you prefer, as well as, a concentration.

Although becoming a lawyer can be a lucrative career choice, it is also a process. To enter law school, you are not required to have earned “law specific” prerequisites; however, you must have earned an online bachelor’s degree in any topic choice, anything ranging from English to political science; however, if you have previously decided to follow this career path, you can certainly take courses, such as pre-law or criminal justice, if available. Although every online bachelor’s degree program does not offer law-related coursework, school counselors can often recommend beneficial programs for you.

Once you’ve earned an online bachelor’s degree, you’re ready to enter law school. The process will entail participation in the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). The examination is designed to test your skills and knowledge in critical thinking, analytical and reasoning skills, as well as, your information management and reading comprehension abilities. The result of your exam determines your skills set and your likelihood of excelling in a law program. Your prospective law school will review your LSAT test scores, along with your overall undergraduate GPA, in addition to, recommendation letters, organizational affiliations, statement of intent and your community involvement. Please be sure the American Bar Association accredits your school choice.

Earning a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree should be your next step; usually taking up to three years to complete. Through your J.D. program, you will most likely, be asked to choose a specialization. Upon completion of the J.D. program, you will be qualified for an entry-level job within the field of law you have chosen, after you pass your bar exam, of course. Gaining valuable experience through law office mentors will assist you in becoming a lawyer with excellent credentials; therefore, eventually, you may choose to also earn your Master of Laws (LL.M.) and Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) degrees. Attorneys can expect a salary between $119,250 and $208,000 or more annually, depending on their experience, job location, clientele, and specialization.

To concentrate in a particular type of law, consider which areas of law interest you the most. There are several specializations to choose from, and all will offer you the training you need to pursue a fulfilling and rewarding career as an attorney.

To learn more, please see our selections for the Best Online Schools for Associate of Criminal Justice Degree Programs or our list of the Top 10 Online Schools for Master’s in Law Degree Programs.

Below are a few concentrations in the field of law for you to consider, but will require a law degree:

Bankruptcy Law
Criminal Defense
Family Law
Forensic Law
Intellectual Property Law

BANKRUPTCY LAW

bankruptcy law

Bankruptcy law is now a field of concentration that is growing by leaps and bounds. As with other branches of law, this specialization requires an online bachelor’s degree, graduation from law school and the passing of the bar exam. In your studies, you can expect to excel in coursework regarding the various types of bankruptcies, such as Chapter 7, Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy procedures.

As you concentrate your efforts on helping clients overcome their financial woes, you may also need to have skills in consumer finance, tax laws, as well as, corporate law. In the field of bankruptcy law, you must be well-versed in oral and written skills, along with, research and negotiating skills, and, of course, bankruptcy codes.

CRIMINAL DEFENSE

criminal defense lawyer

Criminal defense lawyers provide their clients with the constitutional rights they deserve. Typically, clients are usually charged with misdemeanor or felony charges; therefore, they are tasked with defending or discussing potential plea bargains to avoid going to trial or imprisonment. Criminal defense lawyers can be privately retained or work as public defenders within the government’s judicial court system.

To be a criminal defense attorney, you must earn an online bachelor’s degree, as well as, graduate from law school, in addition to, passing the bar examination. To begin, you will be working under the direction of an attorney within a prosecution or public defender’s office.

FAMILY LAW

family law

As family relationships are the backbone of our society, unfortunately, they sometimes fall apart; therefore, family law has become a popular concentration to consider among law students. An attorney who specializes in family law deals with cases involving divorce and spousal support or alimony. They also represent their client’s in child custody battles, as well as, child support payments and visitation rights. Also, a family law attorney will specialize in domestic violence issues, such as abuse and neglect, in addition to, child protection and adoption cases.

Family law attorneys often work in small private or large legal firms. They also are usually familiar with criminal law practice, as well, if needed. In this capacity, you must be compassionate and respect the fragility of children and the family unit. Excellent oral and negotiating skills are required, as well as, excellent time management skills, as your caseload in this concentration will be plentiful.

FORENSIC LAW

forensic law

Forensic lawyers combine the field of law with science. They are hired during a criminal investigation to provide evidence brought forth through forensic science. They examine samples, such as hair follicles, bodily fluids and tissues, along with, fingerprints gathered at the crime scene to help solve cases, either for the prosecution or defense. Many long work hours are required working in the field or a lab reviewing evidence.

Forensic attorneys must be an expert in law, as well as, forensic science; therefore, their education must reflect such. Also, specific certifications from the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the American College of Forensic Examiners Institute are recommended.

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW

intellectual property law

If you create it, you should profit from it! That is the premise of intellectual property law. Attorneys in this concentration are dedicated to preserving the legal and financial rights of others who have created inventions or products, and the like. Intellectual law concerns copyrights, trade secrets, patents and trademarks, and design rights, among other aspects.

In addition to the usual academic accomplishments that becoming a lawyer entails, an intellectual property lawyer must pass a specific exam to practice law according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, as this distinction will allow you to demonstrate your skills in handling the technical, scientific and mathematical components to intellectual property law. Within the field, you will also need to be proficient in the legalities of civil and criminal matters.

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Within the field of law, there are many, many types of concentrations to consider if you would like to become a lawyer. As of 2018, the top ten most lucrative and popular branches of specializations include careers in Intellectual Property, Healthcare, Real Estate, Bankruptcy, Corporate, Criminal Defense, Person Injury, Family & Divorce, Civil Rights and Immigration.

To learn more, see our choices for the 20 Most Affordable Schools for Online Legal Studies Degree Programs for 2019.

lawyers attorneys

Furthermore, if you are interested in the legal system, but not necessarily in the capacity of an attorney, there are still a variety of legal careers available to you. You will find many legal career options to consider in which you can easily obtain an online undergraduate or graduate degree. In some law career choices, attending an online trade school for a diploma or certificate is sufficient.

Below are a few law enforcement and legal assistant careers that will not necessarily require a law degree:

Police Officer
Probation Officer
U.S. Marshal
Court Reporter
Mediator
Paralegal

POLICE OFFICER

police officers

We continually rely on law enforcement officers to keep our families safe, without a doubt.  They have very dangerous jobs, but nonetheless, are dedicated to protecting and serving their communities in which they work.  They are hired to respond to emergency calls, traffic accidents, arrest perpetrators, as well as, issue traffic citations and occasionally, testify in a court of law.

Do you need an academic degree to be a police officer? Most likely, you will not; however, each municipal’s employment requirements differ. Although obtaining an online Bachelor of Criminal Justice degree may not be required, it will place you a step above those vying for the same position.

If you are at least 21 years old, possess a valid driver’s license, can pass a physical exam and background check, you’re a prime candidate for the police academy.  While becoming a police officer is a rewarding job, it can also serve as a stepping stone to advancements, such as a police chief or investigator.

PROBATION OFFICER

probation officer

For those who have been previously convicted of a crime, being released into the outside world can be difficult. A probation officer is assigned to them to help them adjust, seek employment and find programs that fit their needs. They track those who have recently been released to record their progress as they are reintroduced into society, at least for a while.

If you have decided on a career as a probation officer, you will need a minimum of an online bachelor’s degree in human services, social work or criminal justice. Coursework in psychology and sociology are undoubtedly helpful, as well as, on-the-job experience as a police officer. You can expect an extensive training period, and in-depth background checks if you wish to pursue a career as a probation officer.

U.S. MARSHAL

us marshal

U.S. Marshals have many hats to wear within the legal system. They transport prisoners, conduct investigations, oversee witness protection programs, and they seize and distribute assets belonging to convicted felons. They work closely with all types of law enforcement personnel to secure the criminal safely.

The requirements for becoming a U.S. Marshall are as follows: You must be between the ages of 21 and 36 years old, a U.S. Citizen, in optimum physical condition, have a valid driver’s license and pass an extensive background check.

Academically, you will need to begin by earning your online associate degree in criminal justice and then your online bachelor’s degree, as well. It is recommended that you maintain a 3.0 GPA and graduate in the top third of your class for the best chances of securing a position as a U.S. Marshal. Extensive training from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Academy is also required.

COURT REPORTER

court reporter

Court reporters are responsible for transcribing spoken testimony into written words during a legal proceeding. For the sake of maintaining records, court reporters can utilize a variety of tools, such as voice writers, television closed captioning, or stenography. With an accurate typing speed of 225 words per minute, you’ll make an exceptional court reporter. Also, in this capacity, you must demonstrate excellent listening and comprehension skills, along with, writing and speaking skills. You must be well organized and detail-oriented.

To become a court reporter, you may be trained through an online trade certificate program in as little as six to twelve months, or you can earn an online associate degree in two years. Depending on your state, court reporters may be required to obtain licensure and other specific certifications. Court reporters can work as freelancers, for court reporting agencies, or the government.

Would you like to learn more? Please see our list for the Best Online Schools for Court Reporting.

MEDIATOR

mediator

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR), or mediation, has become an essential part of settling claims and disputes today, due to the overabundance of court cases that lawyers and judges must hear. If the plaintiff and defendant agree to mediation, they can save themselves money in court costs and time spent in the system. A mediator acts as a referee to allow for a peaceful resolution that both parties can agree to; however, if a compromise can not be met, court proceedings can continue.

Formal education to be a mediator is not required; although, they must stay current on applicable laws, rules, and legislation. Training is available through independent mediation programs or, occasionally, you will find that universities and colleges are now beginning to offer coursework in this growing field. Many lawyers or judges eventually transition into a position as a mediator.

PARALEGAL

paralegal

Paralegals are the backbone of the law office. Lawyers depend on them to perform office functions to help them build a client’s case. Paralegals draft legal briefs, perform essential office functions, respond to motions, interact with clients, as well as, answering phone calls and scheduling client consultations.

To become a paralegal, you must attend a paralegal certificate program, at the very least. This type of program is readily available online, as well as, the online associate degree program. If you would like to advance in your career as a paralegal, you may also earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree. And, of course, if you decide to obtain a law degree, you will have a firm foundation on which to build. To learn more, see our choices for Unrivaled Online Paralegal Associate Degree Programs.

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Are you interested in a legal career? If so, you can bet behind-the-scenes job opportunities abound, which are an integral part of the big picture. Attorney’s rely significantly on the help of others to build a case. Other careers in law include the law clerk, crime lab technician, homeland security agent, ballistics examiners, coroner, DEA agent, juvenile justice, as well as, a state trooper or game warden.

To learn more, see our choices for the 20 Most Affordable Schools for Online Legal Studies Degree Programs for 2019.