LAW AND ORDER
Welcome to the Saludos Law and Order Career
Guide. Please select one of the following job categories, or scroll down to
browse the job descriptions.
POLICE, DETECTIVES, AND SPECIAL
POLICE, DETECTIVES, AND SPECIAL AGENTS
bad boys, Whatcha gonna do?"
A career in law enforcement may not always be
as dramatic as it seems in the movies and on TV, but if you can responsibly
handle unusual situations and the potential for danger it may be the job for
you. If you want to have a direct impact on the safety and quality of life in
your community, a career in law and order may be the best way to give back to
your community while making a good living. Protecting and serving the public
can provide you with a genuine feeling of accomplishment.
There is a
wide variety of different jobs associated with enforcing our laws and keeping
order. Responsibilities can range from controlling traffic to investigating
federal crimes. Law enforcement can be imposed by someone like the U.S. Marshal
who escorts jurors to court. Law may be kept by the local police force whose
goals are fighting crime and enhancing community relations. Or the authority of
the law may be enforced by the FBI or DEA at the federal level. All these
public servants have one thing in common; they are committed, concerned
citizens who like to help others.
• Control traffic, investigate crimes, and give
first-aid at accident scenes.
at city police departments, sheriff's offices, and state police departments.
• Common specializations in metropolitan police
departments include patrol, traffic, chemical analysis, and handwriting or
• Sheriffs and deputy sheriffs enforce the law
in rural areas and other places which do not have a local police department.
police, highway patrol, and state troopers patrol highways, aiding motorists,
and issuing traffic citations to law-breaking motorists.
reports and maintain police records, and may be called upon to testify in
Detectives and Special
• Conduct interviews, examine records, observe
activities of suspects.
participate in raids or arrests.
• Plainclothes investigators gather facts and
collect evidence for criminal cases.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
• Investigate violations of federal laws in
connection with bank robberies, theft of government property, organized crime,
espionage, sabotage, kidnapping, and terrorism.
• Agents with specialized training usually work
on cases related to their background. (For example, agents with an accounting
background may investigate crimes such as bank embezzlements or fraudulent
bankruptcies and land deals.)
• Agents frequently testify in court about
cases that they investigate.
• Special agents employed by the U.S.
Department of Treasury work for the U.S. Customs Service; the Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; the U.S. Secret Service; and the Internal
• Customs agents enforce laws which prevent the
smuggling of goods across U.S. borders.
• Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agents might
investigate suspected illegal sales of guns or the underpayment of taxes by a
liquor or cigarette manufacturer.
Secret Service agents protect the President, Vice President, and their
immediate families, presidential candidates, ex-presidents, and foreign
dignitaries visiting the United States.
investigate counterfeiting, forgery of government checks or bonds, and the
fraudulent use of credit cards.
• Internal Revenue Service special agents
collect evidence against individuals and companies that are evading the payment
of federal taxes.
• Federal drug enforcement agents conduct
criminal investigations of illicit drug activity.
• Compile evidence and arrest individuals who
violate federal drug laws.
prepare reports that are used in criminal proceedings.
testimony in court.
• Develop evidence that justifies the seizure
of financial assets gained from illegal activity.
• Over-time is common.
• Average work week for police officers is 40
hours, with some night, holiday, and weekend work.
outside even in bad weather.
• Injury and stress rates much higher in this
profession than in others.
applicants must be at least 20 years old, and must meet strict personal and
detector and drug tests are common screening tools in hiring procedure. (Many
departments are now requiring psychological testing or counseling.)
high school degree is the minimum education requirement.
• College degree is often required for officers
in managerial positions, or for general advancement in the force.
growth in this field will mostly result from early retirement of current police
• Salaries in 1992 ranged from $18,400 to
$51,00 for non-supervisory officers.
• Supervisors earned between $23,200 and
police departments pay officers the most, but most departments offer salaries
which increase with time on the force.
How would you like to be part of a "Dream Team"? The
legal profession has been getting a lot of attention over the past couple of
years, not only because of fictional hit TV shows like L.A. Law, but also
because of strange high profile cases in the news like the Menendez trials, and
of course the O.J. Simpson "trial of the century." Trials are rarely that
sensational or dramatic on a day to day basis, but for those with a passion for
the law, legal work can be tremendously challenging and fulfilling.
There are two main divisions within law; civil and criminal. Civil law
has several subdivisions including corporate law, communications law,
entertainment law, labor law, real estate law, and tax law. Criminal cases
involve either misdemeanor or felony offenses.
There are many different
jobs associated with protecting our rights and serving justice. In order to
operate smoothly, the legal profession needs various professionals to keep the
system moving, including lawyers, judges, paralegals, court
reporters, legal secretaries, administrators and support staff. These jobs are
open to people with diverse backgrounds and various levels of education. For
people who want their work to have a direct impact on their community, these
jobs can provide you with a genuine feeling of accomplishment.
• Represent their clients in legal matters and
draw up and/or interpret legal documents
• Present evidence in support of a client in
both criminal and civil trials.
• Advise clients of their legal right and
obligations in social, business, and financial situations.
• Common specializations include trial,
divorce, bankruptcy, probate, and environmental law.
1992, four-fifths of all lawyers worked in private practice.
• Irregular work hours are common when doing
research for a case.
hours are common, with more than half of all lawyers working 50 or more hours
• Private practice lawyers can spend a lot of
time traveling while working on a case.
• Increasing competition for good jobs.
term cutbacks, but government predicts a 24% increase in jobs through the year
• Strongest growth areas--tax law,
international law, and possibly entertainment law and environmental law.
good specialty areas: health care, international trade, intellectual property,
and white-collar crime.
• Starting salaries for lawyers average $37,000
per year, but graduates from the top law schools can start at $80,000 per
federal government starts lawyers at $27,800 or $33,000, depending on academic
type, size and location of employer are major salary factors, as is any
specialized education the applicant brings into the position.
firms in large metropolitan areas are generally the sources of the largest
starting salaries. Experienced lawyers can earn from $134,000 per year if they
are on salary, to $1 million per year as partners.
• Requires graduate or professional degree.
practice law, you must be admitted to the bar of the state in which you wish to
• Admission to the bar is granted after
completing and passing a written exam and an ethics exam.
• Before taking these tests, applicants must
have spent three years in and graduated from an American Bar Association
(ABA)-approved law school.
• Admission to law school requires an
undergraduate degree and is very competitive, with many more students applying
each year than can be accepted into the programs.
more trained applicants than there are job openings.
• Education does not stop after completing law
school in this field; 37 states require lawyers to keep abreast of the latest
legal happenings and rulings by taking continuing education courses each year.
the law to citizens and corporations across our country.
• Oversee legal processes in courts of law.
• Sentence convicted criminals.
responsible for managing all those who work in the court room.
• Manage all paperwork required by the court.
either on the federal or state level.
only with laws on that specific level.
• Preside over courtrooms in small, local
• Typical work week is 40 hours.
• One-third of all judges, however, work 50
hours per week.
judges were previously employed as lawyers.
degree is NOT required to hold a limited jurisdiction judgeship in 40 states.
• Graduate degrees generally required.
• Cannot directly apply for a judgeship.
• Federal judges are appointed for life by the
and local judges are usually elected.
and local judges serve from four to six years in limited jurisdiction position;
fourteen years in an appellate court.
• As of
1992, there were 90,000 judges employed in the U.S., most on the state level.
general, job opportunities for judges come slowly.
• Tightening of public funding may inhibit
number of new courts.
have political support to be elected or appointed to a judgeship.
need to spend a considerable amount of money to garner necessary political
• Federal judges earned from $96,800 to
$145,700 in 1995.
judges earned from $62,500 to $121,207 per year.
• Location and size of the jurisdiction are
major factors in judge salaries.
• Judges in major cities, or who preside over
appellate courts, earn much more than their rural counterparts.
best paying, and most prestigious judgeships are those of the U.S. Supreme
1993, the Chief Justice earned $171,500, while other justices earned
• Perform many of the same duties as lawyers,
but without a law degree.
background research to help prepare a case by identifying all applicable laws
and previous court cases and documents that might be relevant.
• Organize and analyze information, and then
present a written advising report which is then used by the lawyer to decide
how to organize the case.
help with the preparation of legal arguments, draft pleadings, obtain
affidavits, and assist the lawyer during the course of the trial.
• Responsible for files of all documents that
are associated with the case.
• Employers are private law firms,
corporations, government, and community legal service projects.
• Computer literacy is becoming mandatory.
• Paralegals generally work a 40-hour week, but
may work overtime when meeting a deadline for a case going to trial.
of the fastest growing occupations in the U.S. through the next ten years--a
growth rate of 86% is expected.
• 95,000 paralegals were employed in 1992,
mostly by private law firms and the government.
• Growing trend for paralegal firms made up of
independent paralegals who can offer legal services at lower cost than lawyers.
• Salaries vary greatly, with education,
training, experience, and location of employer being a major factor.
law firms in major cities pay the most. A $28,300 salary was the average for
experienced legal assistants in 1993 according to the National Association of
Legal Assistants (NALA).
• Starting salaries averaged $23,400. In
addition to salary, most legal assistant receive bonuses for putting in long
hours of hard work, which averaged $1,700 in 1993 according to NALA.
• Supervisors or specialists may earn $45,000
• Paralegal education can vary from two months
to four years
• Certification is not required, but it
increases job prospects.
firms prefer to promote experienced legal secretaries, or new college grads,
into paralegal positions, and then train them to their own specifications.
• Training and certification programs are found
at both two- and four-year colleges, law schools, and business schools.
internship is the best way to receive on-the-job-training and a good shot at
• Demands use of logic, written and oral
communication, good research and investigation skills.
General Law & Order Resources:
Federal Law Enforcement Careers Employment
Guide - information on how to purchase this booklet, and selected
Institute of Justice
Lawyers, Judges, Paralegals/Legal Assistants:
Association of Legal Assistants
Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc. (NFPA)
Police, Detectives, and Special
Montgomery County Department of
Officer's Internet Directory
Saint Mary's University
Criminal Justice page