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Advocacy Jobs: What They Are and How to Get Them

published October 13, 2008

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
( 1109 votes, average: 5 out of 5)
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If you're interested in the rights of others and have a good mind, solid organizational skills, and some legal experience, you can help others and find a solid career as an advocate. Of course, it is not always easy, at first, to get a paying job as an advocate, but there are plenty of volunteer opportunities that will allow you to become an advocate and gain experience before ultimately moving into a paid advocacy job.

 
Advocacy Jobs: What They Are and How to Get Them

What Is an Advocate?

The term "advocate" refers to someone who advocates on the behalf of another party. Specifically, advocates usually work within the legal system in some capacity, although they may also work outside its parameters in some cases.

 

Areas That Require Advocacy Jobs

 

Advocacy jobs are available everywhere and take on a number of different areas, including children's rights, family negotiations, accident or crime victims’ needs, and so on. Every area of the legal profession needs advocates to work on victims’ behalf.


Requirements of Advocacy Jobs

 

Most formal advocacy jobs require that you have a least some legal experience or that you're in law school and in the process of becoming a lawyer. Oftentimes, law students help tenants settle disputes with landlords. Others may even undertake cases involving individuals who have been wrongly convicted of crimes in the hopes of proving the innocence of these wrongly accused individuals. In such cases, of course, the students are supervised by a law professor and take on the cases as part of the students' training and education to become lawyers.

Depending on the scope of the work required, advocacy jobs may start at relatively modest pay (sometimes very modest pay). It can be quite easy to become an advocate, though. If you're willing to volunteer, for example, you can advocate in any number of areas for any number of individuals, including battered women, abused children, tenants, and so on.

In some cases, volunteer advocacy jobs can lead to paid advocacy jobs based upon experience. These jobs are not necessarily listed in any central location; rather, they're part of a network whereby those who have become legal advocates move into paid positions after a time spent volunteering.

Some areas employ legal advocates specifically to act as mediators in disputes, rather than utilizing lawyers and judges. Oftentimes, for example, advocates work to mediate and resolve legal disputes that may not have the substance go to trial. Lawyers and judges, meanwhile, are often significantly overbooked such that using legal advocates for lesser cases is both cost-effective and time-saving. Minor disputes, for example, that might otherwise have to wait for months or longer to be resolved in the traditional legal system can be resolved far more quickly through mediation instead.

Because advocates work on behalf of someone, advocates always work in partnership with other people. An advocate's job is to work on someone's behalf as his or her representative. However, the advocate also works in tandem with that person so that he or she can determine what needs are to be met and what the person he or she is advocating for wants. For this reason, advocates do not stand alone in making decisions. Rather, they stand with their clients and ultimately must do what their clients want.

What Can an Advocate Expect to Earn?

 

Advocacy jobs are as varied as the legal system itself. In some cases, you may become involved as an advocate on a purely volunteer basis. For example, if you volunteer at a homeless shelter to help clients find lodging, your volunteer status may be because the organization doesn't have the money to pay a formal advocate. In such cases, experience requirements are usually much lower, and the job itself can even be learned through on-the-job experience alone.

If you are interested in becoming an advocate, it may be helpful to volunteer first in the area that you are most interested in. From there, volunteer advocacy jobs can often become paid jobs. Some advocates, too, eventually find a niche they are particularly interested in, and go to school specifically to become lawyers in that particular area.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What Is A Career In Advocacy?


Mentoring, coaching, and counseling are all examples of career advocacy. Regardless of the title, career advocacy aims to advance an individual's career.


Career advocates assist less experienced professionals in maximizing their career opportunities. Advocates provide more than just advice or references. Developing an employee's marketability, job competencies, educational advancement, interpersonal skills, and self-knowledge is the advocate's primary goal in securing a successful job placement.

As the demands and responsibilities of a career advocate go beyond simply meeting for lunch or coffee, it can be challenging to find one. A certified career advocate can be hired for a fee, and certification is not necessary, but it is available. A career advocate may be someone with advanced experience in an industry or company. The key to building an effective advocacy relationship is finding an advocate who has expertise in a desired field or influence within an industry.
 

What Qualifications Do You Need To Be An Advocate?


Law is a complex and broad subject. A lawyer requires extra education, proving that they can provide competent advice, and staying abreast of legal developments throughout their careers so that their clients receive the best and most up-to-date legal advice. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, would-be lawyers must earn a bachelor's degree, attend law school, and then take a bar exam to obtain a license to practice.
 

Fulfill Pre-Law Educational Requirements


Obtaining a bachelor's degree is the first step toward becoming a lawyer. It is not important what major you have, says the American Bar Association, the body that accredits law schools and sets ethical guidelines for attorneys. According to the ABA, historically, students major in disciplines such as history, political science, and English. ABA recommends that instead of trying to find the "right" major, students should choose challenging classes that emphasize critical reading and analysis, projects, organization, writing, and research.
 

Complete Law School


To qualify for practice, attorneys must complete law school after completing a bachelor's degree. The LSAT -- the Law School Admission Test -- assesses a student's potential for studying law. Those who pass the bar exam must undergo a lengthy and expensive education to become lawyers. Attorneys spend three years earning the required degree, called a Juris Doctor, or J.D.

According to a Good Financial Cents analysis in 2020, the average cost of attending one of the top 20 law schools in the country, such as Harvard or the University of Minnesota, is $45,569 per year, or $136,707 for a law degree. The average tuition at the second tier of ABA-approved schools is $38,308 per year or $114,924 for a J.D.
 

Acquire Legal Specialization


In certain job qualifications, experience and training in a particular area of law are listed. Several law schools offer specialization and certificate programs for those wishing to focus on a particular area of law, such as international law, intellectual property, litigation, and business law. A student may also obtain a second advanced degree, such as a JD/Ph.D., JD/MPH, or JD/MBA. According to the Association of American Law Schools, joint degree programs are increasingly popular and available in most fields of law.
 

Pass the Bar Exam


State licensing requirements include passing the bar exam, which tests students' legal knowledge. Those wanting to practice in more than one state must pass the bar in both states. In most states, students take a two-day test. The first day includes the Multistate Bar Examination, which contains 200 questions in six areas of law: torts, real property, evidence, criminal law, contracts, and constitutional law. Candidates take the Multistate Essay Examination and the Multistate Performance Test on the second test day.
 

Is Being An Advocate A Good Profession?

 

Benefits of Being a Lawyer


It does not matter what kind of lawyer you are, you will benefit from the legal profession in many ways. Knowing the benefits of this job can help you decide whether you want to pursue this career. Below are 11 benefits of this career:
 

Variety of Career Options


The public as well as private sectors, offer many career opportunities for lawyers. Upon passing the bar exam, you can select the specialty you are most interested in. As a prosecutor, you can represent the citizens of your community, or as an attorney, you can protect the lives of innocents. You can find fulfillment in a variety of ways in the field of law, from real estate to corporate law.
 

Starting Your Own Business


You can start your own business once you have a law degree and some experience. You can run your law firm however you choose when you have your own business as a lawyer. For instance, if you like the social aspect of this career, you can work with multiple clients at once, or you can work with one client for an extended period of time if you prefer greater consistency and job security.
 

Lucrative Career


Lawyers can earn a generous income. The average lawyer earns $50,979 per year. Although you may not earn this income as a new lawyer, you can work your way up to it through hard work and experience. A job well done may be worth more than your annual salary, however.
 

Intellectual Stimulation


Lawyers' daily duties can provide plenty of mental stimulation and challenges. If you are a lawyer, you may be responsible for understanding complex legal theories and determining the possible outcomes for your clients. In order to achieve this, you need to solve problems, form a hypothesis, and formulate a legal strategy to benefit your client.
 

Flexibility


Most lawyers are able to customize their schedules to fit their particular needs, even if some lawyers have unpredictable schedules. You might even be able to work from home if you are employed by a law firm. As a result, you can spend more time with your family members, thus improving your work-life balance. You can also hire an assistant to help you with your work.
 

Adaptable Skills


You can learn and develop several skills as a lawyer that can be transferred to another career, whether it is in the legal field or completely outside it. You can use your negotiation skills as a real estate lawyer, your problem-solving skills as a customer service representative, or your research skills as a legal consultant.
 

Ability to Help Others


You can assist businesses and individuals in need as a lawyer. In addition to allowing you to seek justice for these parties, this profession can also provide you with emotional fulfillment. This may be more beneficial than the money you earn in this profession, depending on your perspective. The satisfaction of winning a case and solving your client's problem can be even more rewarding.
 

Work Environment


During the day, many lawyers work in law firms, businesses, or government agencies. As a result, they can avoid the traditional office cubicles common to most professions. Those who prefer an open layout will find this perk particularly useful.
 

Work Perks


Lawyers can enjoy a pleasant work environment in addition to several other perks. Some lawyers can also benefit from a decorating budget to make their work environment more conducive to productivity. In addition to available accommodations, gym memberships, and support staff to minimize their workload, they may be able to take advantage of additional work perks.
 

Argue and Debate


Trial attorneys do not all argue in court hearings, but many do. This career may be right for you if you like challenges and debating with other attorneys. You can present your findings during a court case, but you can also argue legal theories, debate law interpretations, and prove your point to the judge, jury, and others.
 

Prestige


Lawyers are often viewed as a prestigious profession. Most often, this is due to their impressive degrees and authority over others. They are often considered glamorous due to their impressive degrees and authority over others.
 

Drawbacks of Being a Lawyer


Even though being a lawyer has several enticing advantages, you should also take into account its drawbacks. It may be a good career for you if these drawbacks do not outweigh the cons. Below are the 11 disadvantages of this profession:
 

High-Stress Situations


It is important to meet your client's deadlines and requirements when you are in this profession. Stressful and emotionally charged cases may also affect your mental health. In order to succeed in this career, you must be able to control your emotions.
 

Long Hours


If you have a flexible schedule, there may be days when you have to work long hours to help your clients. New lawyers often find themselves in this situation. A normal workweek consists of 40 hours, but some lawyers work up to 90 hours a week depending on the case they are working on.
 

Expensive Education


There is a high price tag associated with many law schools. The better the law school, the more expensive it is. New lawyers may not be able to pay off their debts as quickly as they would like even with a generous salary.
 

Not as Many Client Opportunities


It is not always necessary for clients to consult a lawyer when they need legal advice or counsel. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of self-service products, self-help legal websites, legal document technicians, and virtual law offices. These may not always be the most reputable options for legal help, but they divert prospective clients away from lawyers.
 

Clients Are Spending Less


Lawyers have become more aware of legal fees and the prices they charge for their services. They are forced to offer more reasonable rates when clients are more aware of their legal spending. A client who feels that the price is too high may take their business elsewhere and get the help they need at a lower rate. To answer their questions, prospective clients may turn to a paralegal or use technology if their legal fees are too high. Legal fees that are too high will result in a loss of profits and business for lawyers.
 

The Threat of Outsourced Legal Work


In addition to having a lower cost of living, many foreign countries also have a lower cost of labor. Comparatively to the United States and other developed countries, they can complete the same amount of work at a lower cost. As a result, fewer traditional positions become available since these opportunities go to regional delivery centers or overseas low-wage workforces.
 

Negative Stigma


Lawyering is a reputable profession, but there is always a chance you could earn a poor reputation. Even if you win your cases, you might still be subjected to negative public perception and jokes.
 

Difficult Clients


Lawyers often decide which clients to represent. You may not be able to afford this luxury if you want to earn a steady income. Despite some clients being friendly and professional, this may not always be the case. In the future, there will come a time when you will not particularly like some of your clients; however, it is your job to maintain your reputation by providing them with the best representation.
 

Competitive Job Market


There is expected strong competition for the legal profession in the job market, despite the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting 4% employment growth over the next decade. As a result, more recent graduates are seeking jobs than there are openings. Often, there are fewer opportunities for legal professionals to take advantage of, which makes it more difficult for them to find worthwhile positions-or any positions at all, for that matter.
 

Increased Reliance on Technology


Legal landscapes have been impacted by the rise of technology. Lawyers must understand a wide range of technological platforms such as management tools, spreadsheets, and billing software. Individuals who are not as tech-savvy may find it challenging to keep up with these technological advancements. Due to the rise of technology, online legal services can also offer clients cheaper rates.
 

Law Changes


Keep your knowledge of the law up-to-date and stay abreast of changes as they occur as a lawyer. To ensure you are following current legal practices and laws, you will need to do a lot of research on each case. Even though it may not always be the case, staying up-to-date on these changes can be overwhelming and result in long office days.
 

What Jobs Can You Get With A Child Advocacy Degree?


Various advocacy associations and organizations provide various employment opportunities, such as working for your state. Different types of positions work towards child protection and speak on their behalf. It may be in your best interest to work for your state's department of social services. You can work for an agency with a different name, such as the Department of Children and Families, or for the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
 

Child Advocate


CASAs (Court Assigned Special Advocates) are assigned to children in the child welfare system. By representing the child's best interests, you will serve as his/her voice. Ensure that the child's needs are met, both medically and socially. Your responsibilities will include facilitating court-ordered family visitations, attending hearings to inform the judge of progress and make recommendations, and assessing potential foster and adoptive parents. It is required that you have a bachelor's degree in behavioral science, such as psychology, social work, or sociology. Some states also require you to hold a master's degree in social work. Meridian's annual salary is $44,000.
 

Child Advocate Coordinator


In addition to training, evaluating, supervising, and coaching volunteers, the role of a child advocate coordinator is to ensure that the state laws are adhered to. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree in social sciences, criminal justice, behavioral science, counseling, or a related field. The median annual salary is $35,000.
 

Communications Coordinator for Child Advocate Agency/Organization


All communications are developed and implemented by a communications coordinator for a child advocacy group. All forms of press, social media, print and direct mail, emails, and other communication are considered. A bachelor's degree in social sciences, psychology, or a related field is required. Meridian's salary is $45,000 per year.
 

Guardian Ad Litem, Child Advocate


A Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is an advocate for children appointed by a court. A volunteer, mental health professional, CASA, or a lawyer may be involved, depending on the state. Visitation rights or custody are administered by this individual on behalf of the court. The CASA reports to a program director or senior child advocate manager, depending on the state. Lawyers are generally held directly accountable by the courts.

CASAs and volunteers are expected to hold a bachelor's degree in social work, psychology, child development, sociology, education, communications, juvenile justice, or a related field, along with two years of experience in a related field, such as child welfare, counseling, etc. An attorney will need a law degree - Juris Doctor (JD), licensed to practice law with a concentration in family law, along with a master's degree in one of these fields.

Child advocates' pay rates are determined by their education, title, experience, and whether they are employed on an hourly or salaried basis. The hourly rate for a CASA or court clerk might be $15.36 while that of a lawyer would be $33.84. Full-time Guardian Ad Litems can earn between $17,000 (clerk) and $45,000 (lawyer).
 

Child Advocate Manager


In addition to supervising volunteers, attending court hearings and depositions, a child advocate manager plans events/conferences. Law enforcement agencies, schools, attorneys, social workers, etc., are some of the community agencies and individuals that the manager works with. An undergraduate degree in sociology, social work, psychology, child development, criminal justice, or a related field is required. The minimum required experience is usually two years. Meridian average annual salary is around $45,000, but some positions pay as much as $36,000.
 

Program Director


A key responsibility of this position is to lead the advocacy program on a hands-on basis. All documentation, planning events, fundraising, and inspiring work teams and volunteers fall under this category. An advanced degree in social sciences, education, psychology, or a related field is typically preferred. An organization may require a minimum of seven years of experience, including three years of leadership. Pay rates differ according to the agency, company, or non-profit with a median salary of $120,000, but many earn as much as $170,000.
 

Education Program Attorney or Special Education/Early Intervention


Children's advocates are often required to oversee special education or early intervention programs for foster children with non-profit organizations. Children will be represented in various settings, such as regional centers, school districts, informal disputes, mediations, etc.

You must have a Juris Doctor (JD) law degree and work experience with foster care children, the child welfare system, or dependency courts. You must have a Juris Doctor (JD) law degree and work experience with foster care children, the child welfare system, or dependency courts. Applicants must possess a Juris Doctor (JD) law degree and work experience with foster care children, the child welfare system, or dependency courts. You may also be required to train pro bono attorneys and law clerks. Additionally, you may need to be certified by the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC). You may have to take courses in family law, domestic violence, etc. Meridian pays $140,000 per year.
 

Director of Forensic Services and Victim Advocate


Children's services and law enforcement will request you to conduct forensic interviews of children. The child abuse specialist will manage various investigators, coordinate the child abuse team(s), and coordinate the child's triage and therapy.

In addition to a master's degree in social work, psychology, counseling, or a related field, you will also need to be licensed and/or certified by your state. Forensic interviewing experience with children and adolescents is required. Meridian pays an annual salary of $80,000.
 

The National Children's Advocacy Center


The National Children's Advocacy Center (NCAC) offers information about pursuing a career in child advocacy. It provides a one-stop resource for those interested in pursuing careers in this important field, and it is dedicated to helping children.
 

Training for Volunteers and Employees


Training, activities, and model programs are offered by NCAC. Opportunities to serve as a volunteer can lead to employment. As jobs become available, the site lists them.
 

National CASA Association


Children who have been neglected or abused are supported by the National CASA Association. CASA strives to provide the children with a safe and healthy home. CASA has thousands of trained volunteers working in the US courts.
 

Child Advocacy Options

 

A career as a child advocate is rewarding. No matter how you choose to work, you have many possibilities. You can be a lawyer or a social worker. In this career field, no matter which direction you choose, you will be providing a voice for a population that would otherwise have none.

Conclusion

Advocacy jobs are far-reaching and are involved in many different areas of the legal system in some capacity. Everything from advocating for children to advocating for environmental concerns can be accomplished by those who function as advocates. Some advocacy jobs are formal and require a law degree, while others simply require a passion and knowledge for the subject at hand and a willingness to learn. If you're interested, find an area that interests you and begin by volunteering. Being an advocate can be a very rewarding experience.

Please see the following articles for more information about jobs related to public interest law:
 

Alternative Summary

Harrison is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and several companies in the legal employment space that collectively gets thousands of attorneys jobs each year. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placement attract millions of reads each year. Harrison is widely considered the most successful recruiter in the United States and personally places multiple attorneys most weeks. His articles on legal search and placement are read by attorneys, law students and others millions of times per year.

More about Harrison

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LawCrossing has received tens of thousands of attorneys jobs and has been the leading legal job board in the United States for almost two decades. LawCrossing helps attorneys dramatically improve their careers by locating every legal job opening in the market. Unlike other job sites, LawCrossing consolidates every job in the legal market and posts jobs regardless of whether or not an employer is paying. LawCrossing takes your legal career seriously and understands the legal profession. For more information, please visit www.LawCrossing.com.

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