Not everyone is cut out to be a lawyer or a judge, nor does everyone have the financial background to obtain adequate and appropriate schooling. Yet many are still fascinated and want to work in a legal or law environment. Consider these alternatives that won’t break the bank on required education or background.

Bailiff

Historically, bailiffs were sent out to collect debts owed to the king or government. Nowadays, certain bailiffs still do official collection, but there’s also the court room side of being a bailiff. It is the bailiff’s responsibility to keep order and decorum in the courts at all times, as well as take care of the jury. Safety of those in the court are their priority

While there is no course to take to become a bailiff, it`s a good idea to be enrolled in Police Foundations, to gain or have an understanding of law enforcement. Many bailiffs actually are those aspiring to be police officers. Note that the candidate must be in excellent physical and mental shape; able to physically handle and overcome those who become violent or threaten anyone involved in the court proceedings.

Mediator

With the rise of overflowing caseloads in the courts, a new career has opened. For those who wish to settle their disputes out of the courtroom, a mediator or arbitrator can handle the conflict to both parties satisfaction.

The point of a mediator is to help the parties involved find a solution to the particular conflict. In both US and Canada there is no obligatory licensing. However, in Canada there is the Alternative Dispute Resolution organization (ADR Canada) which offers help in finding a mediator as well as supporting its members. There is a certificate program in conflict resolution offered by Conrad Grebel University College. Courses include Alternative Dispute Resolution Level 1 as well as other workshops.

Legal Assistant

The most commonly thought-of career within the legal profession, the legal assistant is often called a paralegal or even a law clerk. Note that legal secretary or legal administrator does not fall under this category.

While law students usually take the position of law clerk to gain experience, many professionals enjoy what could be called this “hectic freedom”. It’s these people who run around on errands of a legal nature, such as registering a home for sale or ensuring title has passed from previous owner to present owner. Certainly not a desk job, this position requires law knowledge, patience and attention to detail, while maintaining a cool composure.

Yes, formal education is required. Fortunately though, many colleges offer paralegal and law clerk training, so the cost is not prohibitive. Check local college listings for a program that fits.

Note that legal secretaries and legal administrators can also obtain training through local colleges.

Court Reporter

Often referred to as transcriptionists or stenographers, these employees must provide an accurate, verbatim written document of exactly what was said in the courtroom proceedings. These legal documents are extremely important as they become the transcript of what transpired in court. Note that a special recording instrument called a stenotype is used, which uses phonetic code to represent what was said. Speed must be a minimum of 225 wpm. Note that there is now also voice recording, where the court reporter repeats into a voice recorder everything that is said and happening, and a computer transcribes the information.

There are certified training programs across the country.

Bottom Line

There are more choices within the legal field than becoming a lawyer. While legal assistant/law clerk may be a more commonly thought of alternative, consider becoming a court reporter to transcribe what was said in the courtroom, a bailiff to ensure security for the courts, or a mediator who works to resolve conflicts outside of the overloaded courts.

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