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Lawyer

Great Legal Careers for Administrative Assistants

If the daily grind has got you looking for a change, why not consider a fresh start with a legal career? While it’s no secret that becoming a lawyer can involve a hefty price tag, several years of schooling and (possibly several attempts at) a bar exam, there are other legal careers that won’t break the bank.

Legal administrative assistant

Getting in on the ground floor of a law firm might require starting out as a legal administrative assistant. It requires familiarity with legal verbiage, various kinds of legal filings and notices, as well as the general processes of the justice system. You’ll also need to reference past legal proceedings for things like legal precedents, quotes, and reports or other research.

Many things like correspondence, creating meeting agendas, managing contracts, sending faxes and preparing documents for certified mail will likely be familiar to you, so this could be a good place to start if you know the right people who can give you a foot in the door.

Court reporter

If you’re adept with taking dictation and have lightning fast and accurate typing skills, court reporting could be a great career for you. Each state has different requirements or pathways to become a stenographer, but if you want to be a Miami court reporter, for example, you just need to complete a certification program, which in many cases can be done on your schedule and budget.

Technology is becoming more and more intrinsic to the court reporting process. For a long time, a special machine called a stenograph was used to type in shorthand so that the reporter could keep up with the flow of conversation. While these machines are still common, some court service providers also incorporate things like real-time streaming of reporter’s notes and synchronized video transcripts. This is typically done in a fast-paced environment as some firms expect to receive the notes as quickly as the same day of the proceedings.

Legal transcriptionist

Once the shorthand version of proceedings has been captured by a court reporter, the next step is for those shorthand notes to be translated into an accurate transcription of events for the formal case record. A transcriptionist or scribe may also be responsible for preparing other kinds of documents like legal forms or contracts, so familiarity with legal verbiage and excellent grammar are important transferable skills.

There are a few paths to this career which may involve certification or a six month diploma-type course, many of which can be taken as night classes while you continue with your day job. Some of these skills are also transferable to a degree with medical transcription, a field which also offers competitive wages.

Paralegal

Some people choose to gradually work their way into a lucrative law career, and this could be the next logical step toward becoming a full-blown lawyer if that was your eventual goal. Becoming a paralegal may require the completion of an accredited degree program in many states, so this option is admittedly more expensive than the others in terms of upfront education, but if you’ve already made the switch to the law industry, a familiarity with the terms and processes will help you fly through the coursework. Some states only require a certification for specific kinds of activities, but generally the more extensive your credentials, the more tasks you’ll be able to complete and the higher your earning potential.

Whether you slowly climb the ladder or quickly rise to the top, switching careers into the law industry can help you catapult your salary above many standard occupations.