The enchantment of the legal world, as we see it time and again on the big and small screen, is no accident. The fascinating landscape of law and justice has always held an irresistible attraction for our imagination. The good news is: you do not have to be a judge or a lawyer to make a career in this fascinating field.
Bo Beintema, recruitment consultant at staffing specialist Walters People and an expert in recruiting legal support professionals, will take you through the various career opportunities within legal support.
Endless career opportunities
"Within the legal world, you are never bored," Bo interjects. "It is an exciting environment where you are constantly learning and where every day brings new challenges. What makes it even more attractive for many professionals is the fact that you have lots of career options within the legal support domain. You can work at a law firm, a notary or a bailiff, but you can also go corporate and work for a multinational. Depending on your choice, you can immerse yourself in different legal specialisations. This versatility ensures that you never get stuck in your career: after all, there is always something new to discover."
The ideal profile
Bo: "To build a successful career within legal support, certain analytical skills are essential. You are confronted with a plethora of legal texts and rules, and the ability to interpret them and make connections is invaluable. Strong language skills help you to quickly feel at home in the - nevertheless complex - legal jargon. Moreover, the legal sector requires precision, accuracy and the ability to work under pressure. Good time management skills and stress resistance are essential here. Finally, a position within legal support requires you to have a highly professional attitude as you are in regular contact with official bodies and handle confidential information."
No specific degree required
Many people mistakenly think that you need a legal degree to start a career within legal support. However, this is not the case.
Do you combine a bachelor's degree with experience within administration and fancy a new challenge? Then a job as a legal administrative assistant - sometimes called legal assistant - could be just the thing for you. In this role, you will provide administrative support to the legal team. The tasks include drafting deeds, document management, taking minutes at meetings, requesting case documents from the court, and so on.
"It is a very rewarding position, in which on the one hand you work closely with the legal team and also have many external contacts," Bo explains. "Prior legal knowledge is often not a requirement, as you receive extensive on-the-job training. Provided you are eager to learn and motivated, you can even advance to a key role within the organisation such as office manager, for example."
Career options with a legal degree
With a bachelor's degree in legal practice, several attractive career options are also available.
For example, you can opt for a position as a paralegal, where you will be substantively involved in legal files, including researching legal sources, filing petitions in and drafting deeds. Incidentally, this position is also very suitable to practice during a master's degree in law. Since the master's programme remains largely theoretical, it is very interesting to gain some practical knowledge as a paralegal during your studies.
Another option is the role of compliance officer, where you ensure that internal procedures are adhered to. This is crucial in the food industry, for example, for maintaining quality labels and meeting ISO standards. If you work in a law firm or bailiff's office, the focus will mainly be on the processing of deeds and files. This position offers exciting advancement opportunities to positions such as compliance manager or within project development.
"A relatively new option is the role of DPO or data protection officer," adds Bo. "In this position, you are responsible for complying with the GDRP or European privacy law that came into force in 2018. To this end, you will develop procedures to ensure customer data protection, answer privacy-related questions, draft policies and keep them up-to-date. To become a data protection officer, it is necessary to obtain a specialised certificate. A great opportunity for those who work as legal assistants or complicance officers, for example, and fancy a challenge!"