Humanities and Communication
Additional Law Careers
Students interested in the law have other options than law school. Options include a paralegal/legal assistant, criminal justice, staff members in civil or criminal courts, government, politics or working as a staff member for an elected official, social services, advocacy and community organizing, and conflict resolution (including mediation) to name some of the options.
A number of these career options do require further study beyond a bachelor’s degree, and include certificate programs in paralegal studies or conflict resolution, master’s degree programs in criminal justice, justice studies, social work, or political science. Below are a few resources to guide your exploration of just some of these options, including links to where you can find more information.
The American Bar Association defines a paralegal or legal assistant as “a person, qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.” The ABA has more information on a variety of career possibilities for paralegals/legal assistants.
This option mostly requires specialized training. It is best to seek out an ABA approved program: here’s a list of ABA approved paralegal studies programs in California. Some examples of local and regional ABA approves paralegal certificate programs include the Paralegal Studies Certificate program, CSU East Bay, the Paralegal Studies program at San Francisco State University and theParalegal Certificate Program at John F. Kennedy University. De Anza College offers an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies.
The professionalization of this career is especially apparent in California. The California Alliance of Paralegal Associations is an umbrella organization in the state which is “dedicated to the advancement of the paralegal profession and the proposition that paralegals gain strength through alliance.” The state of California also regulates who can call themselves a paralegal.
In the 1970s, an “alternative dispute resolution” movement emerged to offer an alternative to a generally adversarial legal system. Community-based mediation is one manifestation of this shift. The field of conflict resolution now includes a host of possible careers–including professional mediation, restorative justice programs, and peacemaking community organizing. You can find out more about the possibilities from the CR Info (Conflict Resolution Information Source) career page or the Center for Peacemaking and Conflict Studies at Fresno Pacific University.
These careers sometimes require further education or training. Programs in California include an MA Program in Negotiation, Conflict Resolution & Peace building from CSU Dominguez Hills, a certificate program in conflict resolution from Sonoma State University and a certificate program in mediation and conflict resolution from CSU Northridge. Peacemakers Trust maintains an international list of conflict resolution training programs.
To get an idea of what kinds of careers are possible, browse this list of career opportunities from Fresno Pacific University or Peacebuilding Jobs from Non-Profit Career Advisor.
Interdisciplinary master’s programs in Justice Studies provide another pathway to careers in non-profit social justice organizations, criminal justice careers, and policy work. Graduate programs in Justice Studies in California include a Masters of Science in Justice Studies at San José State University and a Masters in Peace and Justice Studies from the University of San Diego.