Law is certainly not the only helping profession nor is it the only profession to require an organizational ability, a logical mind, and good communication skills. Other professions, particularly those in the business world, offer similar challenge and career opportunity and should not be overlooked when the BIG QUESTION is considered. The professions listed and/or explained below are only a few of the literally thousands from which you may choose. Further information is available in the Career Services Center (near the Perkins Center Parking Garage).
The paralegal or lawyer's assistant is a relatively new profession growing rapidly as lawyers realize that they require assistance from a higher-than-secretarial source. The paralegal is trained in the practicalities of law as well as the theoretical. S/he works under the supervision of a lawyer, doing independent research and reports needed to resolve a client's problem, as well as doing office work and other assigned tasks. The average paralegal salary in the U.S. in 2004 was approximately $46,000 and most paralegals receive fringe benefits such as health insurance coverage, pensions, etc as well as opportunities for advancement. A paralegal often becomes indispensable to the firm; in several states, work as a paralegal may qualify as legal study and, after a certain period of time in this type of work (usually two to four years), the paralegal becomes eligible to take the state bar examination.
Check your own state's requirements by writing the board of Bar Examiners in the state's capital. There are several institutes which offer excellent training and placement services for those interested in becoming paralegals. Post-college certificate programs run from one summer (e.g. Georgetown University) to two semesters. There are scholarships available so don't let cost stop you. For the list of ABA-approved paralegal programs, visit http://www.abanet.org/legalservices/paralegals/directory.
Court or judicial administration is similar to paralegal work in that it is legally related but does not require a law degree, it has professional status, and institutional training for a degree and/or a certificate is available. This job may include personnel work, scheduling, supplies—in other words, the supervision of all that promotes the efficient functioning of the judicial system. The field is growing for court administrators, and opportunities seem virtually unlimited—several court administrators have recently become law school professors, for instance.
Other careers which involve law-related activities include Urban Affairs, International Relations, Accounting, Social Work, and Public Administration. Education beyond the bachelor's degree may be obtained in these areas, but is not necessarily required in the beginning. In addition, consider police and probation work in which, here again, further education may be pursued, but is not required for entry positions. Comprehensive descriptions of these careers and the graduate programs you may follow for them are found in graduate bulletins. Faculty members in Political Science, Urban Affairs, and the College of Business and Economics can provide you with more specific information on these options.
If you haven't found what you're interested in yet, don't worry. Read graduate bulletins to find out what programs and degrees are offered; you may find something that you never heard of before that is just right for you. Talk to people, both within and outside the University community. People who have been through this sort of indecision are the most sympathetic and the most knowledgeable as to how to solve it.