Law offices are by necessity becoming specialty shops, and with their new roles come the need for all manner of employees, consultants and other legal professionals who are not necessarily attorneys. An appropriately successful law firm can be involved in all kinds of different business transactions ranging from sports agency to tin mining to the designs for passenger aircraft.

With the right skill set, nearly anyone can find a home in one of these firms providing specialized services for general legal purposes or for important types of cases with unique needs. If you’re looking for a legal career but don’t necessarily want to spend three years in law school, here are some things to consider.

Expert Witness

Scientific, academic, and forensic evidence must be presented by someone other than an attorney in a court of law. Not only do the rules of evidence require it at nearly every level, but a bona fide expert is almost always persuasive for a jury. Becoming an expert witness is an exercise in reputation management and networking with the right law firms and attorneys. Once you are established, being an expert witness can be a very lucrative and rewarding career.

Private Investigator

Gathering evidence in a criminal case is at least initially a job for the police, but more and more often it falls to defense counsel to not only verify and test the evidence presented by the prosecution but develop evidence of their own, especially in circumstances where the defendant is clearly innocent. Private investigators fulfill this role well. They must be licensed in most states, and have few powers beyond those of an ordinary citizen, but like a newspaper reporter, they can run down facts that might otherwise be missed.


A lot of civil legal issues boil down to an hour of paperwork and a stamp. Most individuals can work their way through these basic filings without the expense of an attorney but should have a knowledgeable person on hand in case they run into difficulty. This is where the paralegal profession shines. Legal training combined with basic experience in the most common issues is often enough to get the job done, especially if said paralegal is supervised by an attorney or firm.

The legal profession is undergoing a lot of changes, which creates a lot of opportunities. Ancillary careers in law can be quite rewarding, even if you don’t plan to attend law school.