We’ve all advocated for something or someone at some point in our lives, but if you want to make a living from it, then getting a law degree can set you up for success.
As a legal advocate, you’ll possess strong persuasive skills, sound reasoning abilities, and the professional licenses needed to make a strong case for any entity you stand for inside or outside a courtroom. Your proficiency in advocacy can shine through in a variety of situations.
A legal advocate is an agent of change, instigating a course of action that improves the state of affairs in a given situation.
In the following sections, we’ll look at advocacy through the eyes of a law expert. We’ll examine how law practice can help you develop a trailblazing career in advocacy. We’ll also look into the different settings in which you can practice advocacy, as well as the skills and other professional requirements.
Advocating as a law expert
In ordinary terms, advocacy simply means speaking up for something or someone. It happens all the time in our daily lives when we stand up for something or someone. However, the legal meaning of advocacy has come to be the dominant interpretation.
Legal advocates work with clinical accuracy and are often very effective at championing a cause. In the courtrooms, they present bold arguments with convincing propositions to persuade jurors and judges to support their cause. Outside the courthouse, they solicit support for the people and ideals they stand for. Law experts are proficient in both written and oral advocacy and are capable of presenting strong arguments both in writing and orally in any given situation.
However, while you can practice advocacy almost anywhere outside the courtroom with any law degree, advocacy inside the courtroom requires certain qualifications and licensing. Of all the different types of legal experts, only barristers and solicitors can advocate in court. The others can serve clients in various capacities, but they cannot represent them in court.
In nonprofit settings, legal advocates are usually engaged in social causes. They often work with nonprofit organizations to seek justice for crime victims, promote better workplace policies, lobby for better policies for underserved and marginalized communities, or pursue environmental protection laws.
What skills are required to be a legal advocate?
If you’re passionate about speaking up for others, a law degree puts you on a clear path to success. The legal profession commands a lot of respect. As legal experts deal directly with issues relating to the law and society in general, people listen to them as a voice of authority. Your reputation precedes you and people are more inclined to consider your arguments.
A law degree puts you through the rigors of making arguments, sharpening your reductive and deductive reasoning skills. It also trains you in the art of negotiations, empowering you to make the most of a situation in the face of rejections and compromises.
There’s still a lot more to a legal advocate’s skillset. These skills are outlined below.
- Research and prepping
As a legal expert, you’ll come across a diverse set of challenges and work with people across the spectrum. This often requires additional legwork to familiarize yourself with a new environment.
- Fact-finding and interviewing
During the preparation stage and well beyond, legal advocates need to engage one-on-one with individuals to gather information or elicit certain responses from them. Deep-penetrating interviewing skills are vital to a legal advocate’s line of work.
- Drafting and documentation
Legal advocates need to create and organize paperwork, and this calls for certain documentation and organizing techniques.
Legal advocates are masters in the art of portraying narratives. They must present their arguments in a well-organized and highly persuasive manner to make a strong case.
The ability to compose yourself and express your arguments with courtesy and decorum, even under extreme pressure, is the hallmark of a legal advocate.
What education is required to be a legal advocate?
You may be you wondering, what does a juris doctor do? There’s no shortfall of opportunities to defend the interests of others with a juris doctor degree. You can represent clients in court, or work with NGOs, human rights organizations, communities and other relevant bodies.
The best way to get started as a legal advocate is to enroll on a course. Cleveland State University offers an excellent juris doctor online learning program that can provide you with all the right knowledge, experience and skills to pursue your specialism in law.
What roles can you fill as a legal advocate?
As a legal advocate, the roles you can fill include the following.
- Victim advocate
Crime victims often turn to organizations and other legal bodies for legal support. Victim advocates offer counseling, legal representation and other forms of support to help crime victims seek justice. They often work in government agencies, prosecutor’s offices and nonprofits.
- Patient advocate
Healthcare systems can be quite complicated, and patient advocates help patients navigate their care delivery options. They work in healthcare facilities or organizations dedicated to healthcare, where they help guide patients on care policies, treatment plans and billing matters.
- Advocacy researcher
This is a collaborative role where you work with other advocates to build a strong case for a specific cause. It requires gathering information from credible sources, collecting evidence and keeping up with relevant developments, among other things.
- Housing advocate
In this role, a legal advocate helps individuals and families find alternative accommodations for temporary or permanent residence. They help clients negotiate with landlords and get assistance from social services.
- Public policy advocate
As a public policy advocate, you work with policymakers to influence policies at different levels. Public policy advocates are often lobbyists working to promote policies on behalf of companies and other organizations.
- Immigration lawyer
Immigrants are one of the demographics that need legal advocates the most. They’re often caught up in complex immigration policies and lack access to adequate legal representation.
As an immigration lawyer, you’ll be working on cases involving green cards, temporary work visas, student visas, deportation, etc.
Acquiring a law degree is one of the most effective ways to position yourself as an advocate for others. There are a lot of opportunities to practice advocacy as a law expert.
To advocate in court, you need a certain specialization in law and professional licenses. However, most other advocacy roles have a much lower barrier of entry. Any law specialization can prepare you to take on a wide variety of advocacy roles.