Making sense of laws, rules and regulations sometimes requires a special set of skills. If you’re someone who appreciates a good guideline, you might be a match for one of these 5 law-related jobs — no law degree required.
Paralegals are multitasking legal assistants who support attorneys in public or private practice. Successful paralegals are organized, ethical, adept at navigating complex systems and have sharp writing skills. Legal departments rely on these assistants, as well as entry-level staff, for support in many aspects of civil and criminal law, such as consultations, negotiations, mediation, litigation, arbitration and more.
So what do paralegals and legal assistants do? Duties might include:
- Analyze, interpret and revise contracts
- Prepare for trial arguments and take notes in court
- Draft and organize memos, briefs and legal documents
- Research case law, gather facts and conduct preliminary witness interviews
Paralegals and legal assistants are in demand. O*NET OnLine projects that the number of jobs for these professionals will grow by 14% in Washington through 2030 and by 14% nationally through 2031.
If you’re exploring career options or want to prepare for a role in the legal field, the course Law Office Fundamentals can help you understand what it’s like to work in a legal setting. Attorney Judi Maier, an instructor for the UW Certificate in Paralegal Studies, says being a paralegal is an excellent job for people who want to help others.
“People go into the paralegal field because they see it as a way to help people resolve problems in their lives — whether business, personal or criminal issues,” Maier says.
2. Biomedical Regulatory Affairs Specialist
Regulatory affairs specialists serve as a “go-between” for companies that develop products and the government agencies that regulate them.
According to Dave Hammond, a Seattle-area clinical and regulatory consultant, the biomedical industry needs regulatory affairs specialists to help engineers and scientists meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards as they develop new drugs, devices and biotech products.
“The FDA has thousands of rules and guidelines and hundreds of regulations that have to be followed for a product to legally make it to market and be able to be sold,” says Hammond, who is an instructor for the UW Master of Science in Biomedical Regulatory Affairs program. “The person in this job guides the company through this process.”
So what do regulatory affairs specialists do? Duties might include:
- Advise engineers, scientists or project teams about requirements and compliance issues
- Communicate and correspond with domestic or international regulatory agencies, government inspectors, project teams and customers
- Coordinate or review regulatory submissions
- Prepare, gather and review technical documents, including data, reports, international standards, promotional materials, and clinical protocols
Like other regulated industries, biotechnology enterprises in Washington rely on people who specialize in regulatory affairs. O*NET OnLine projects that the number of jobs available for regulatory affairs specialists will grow by 13% in Washington through 2030, and by 4% across the nation through 2031.
3. Private Investigator
Knowing what’s legal — and what’s not — is key for private detectives and investigators who work to help make or break a case.
Private investigators gather important information to assist on cases involving criminal laws, civil codes and corporate policies, according to Robin Mullins, a Bellingham-based investigator and instructor for the UW Certificate in Private Investigation.
Law firms and public agencies often hire private investigators. So do businesses, which turn to investigators to help resolve legal matters, such as loss prevention or workplace accidents, Mullins says.
So what do private detectives and investigators do? Duties might include:
- Find people, assets and evidence using computer databases and public records
- Observe activities, interview witnesses, take photos and record video
- Testify at hearings, present evidence in court and deliver legal papers
- Write reports and document investigations
The UW Certificate in Private Investigation helps people prepare for the exam to become licensed private investigators in the state of Washington. According to O*NET OnLine, jobs for private investigators will grow 21% in Washington through 2030 and by 6% throughout the United States by 2031. That’s in part because many long-time investigators are retiring while regional businesses continue to grow, Mullins says.
4. Forensic Accountant
Forensic accountants are specialized investigators who focus on financial crimes.
Also known as fraud examiners, financial investigators or forensic audit experts, forensic accountants look into suspected crimes such as fraud, embezzlement, money laundering or stolen funds.
There’s a growing demand for these professionals — O*NET OnLine projects that jobs in Washington will rise by 17% through 2030 and 10% nationally through 2031.
So what do forensic accountants do? Duties might include:
- Assess financial risk in business operations
- Document investigations and fraudulent activities
- Gather data and analyze financial transactions, receipts and records
- Interview witnesses, prepare evidence and testify in court
Many forensic accountants are also certified public accountants (CPAs), Mullins says. Importantly, he notes, Washington is one of several states where forensic accountants are required to hold a private investigator’s license.
5. Professional Guardian or Conservator
Courts legally entrust professional guardians and conservators to make decisions and coordinate services for people with cognitive disabilities who are unable to make decisions about their own health, safety and finances.
States define the roles of guardian and conservator differently. According to Washington law, guardians make certain legal or medical decisions for a vulnerable person, while conservators generally address estate or financial concerns. In every case, professional guardians and conservators must respect an individual’s rights and best interests.
So what do professional guardians or conservators do? Duties might include:
- Monitor the conditions and needs of the individual
- Involve the people for whom they advocate as much as possible in decisions about care, living arrangements, activities, social interactions, and/or finances and property
- Provide informed consent for services and coordinate with public or private agencies
- Prepare action plans and file reports for court approval
Washington, like some other states, requires guardians and conservators to be certified. The UW Certificate in Guardianship can help individuals pursue certification to serve people who can’t care for themselves, including seniors, minors, people who live with cognitive challenges and other vulnerable people.
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Interested in a law-related job but don’t want to be a lawyer? UWPCE offers several law and regulation certificate programs and degrees. Whether you're looking to work for the courts or a company, or make a difference for people through social services, skip the bar exam and find the career that’s right for you.