Areas of Law Careers

Working as a law professional can mean a wide variety of jobs. The field needs people to investigate and solve crimes, arrest those responsible, participate in the trials, and serve as correction officers if they are convicted. Let’s take a short look at some of the areas that make up law careers.

Local and state law enforcement

The local police are the backbone of the justice system. They patrol the streets, investigate crimes, arrest suspects and testify when needed. They also answer calls for help from the people of their city or town and handle traffic after an accident or during events attended by large numbers of people. Some local police specialize in other areas. Detectives are police officers who have advanced to the position and they collect evidence, interview witnesses and suspects, and solve violent crimes. Other officers work with canine units, special weapons and tactics (SWAT) or forensic investigation.

Sheriffs and their deputies work for counties, usually in an elected position. They perform many of the same duties as local police officers. State police patrol and offer assistance over the entire state. They may be called on to assist local police or sheriffs.

Federal law enforcement

There are several law enforcement agencies at the federal level and law careers in this area protect our country. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the government’s main investigative branch and they also conduct national security operations. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency handles crimes relating to illegal drugs, while the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) enforces federal firearm and explosives regulations. U.S. Marshals protect the courts. The Department of Homeland Security includes several federal law enforcement agencies, including Border Patrol, customs inspectors, immigration officers, and federal air marshals.


Corrections officers are called detention officers when they work in pretrial detention centers with people not yet tried and for people who have received a sentence of jail time. In a jail or prison, corrections officers keep control of inmates, enforce regulations, and perform searches for prohibited substances. Bailiffs protect the safety and keep order in the courts.

Legal system

Judges preside over cases before the court. They maintain order, oversee trials, and sometimes, decide the sentence for a person found guilty of a crime. They make sure that the law is followed and sometimes are required to negotiate disagreements between two parties. Judges work in all levels of government, from traffic court to municipal or county court, appeals courts, federal courts, and up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Paralegals and court reporters also have their places in the legal system. Paralegals help lawyers prepare cases, perform research and interviews, organize information, such as previous cases and draft contracts. Court reporters record everything that takes place in a courtroom so that there will be an official record of all trials.

Last Updated: 05/23/2014

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