Without law, we wouldn’t have much of a society at all. While we’d all like to think that we’d do the right thing even without incentives, the law provides an important structure for those who aren’t as trustworthy — as well as a system for structuring everything from business deals to inheritance. The law is vital to our society and societies all around the world.

But without the people who work in law, our laws wouldn’t do much good. Nobody ever went to jail because of the words on a page. What really matters (besides evidence and criminal actions, of course) are the people: The lawyers, the judges, the jury, and everyone else involved in confirming what the law means and moving along the process of a trial, a verdict, and a sentence.

Working in law can be personally and financially rewarding. It also makes you a part of this system that keeps everything together. So what roles matter in law? Here are a few to consider.

Attorneys

Let’s start with the obvious. When most people talk about careers in law, they’re talking about law schools, bar exams, and the careers of attorneys. Attorneys advocate for parties under the law. They argue before judges and juries — or cut deals with other attorneys and their clients to avoid the courtroom altogether. Attorneys can also help clients avoid legal issues ahead of time by writing and editing contracts, drafting wills, and otherwise overseeing tricky matters involving or adjacent to the law. And attorneys can also file legal and bureaucratic paperwork that (hopefully) won’t result in a lawsuit or criminal charge.

There are different types of attorneys who work on court cases, too — because there are different types of court cases. Civil law is a huge area of law that governs how disputes are settled between private parties, explains an expert medical malpractice lawyer in Nashville, Tennessee. Malpractice law is an area of civil law. If you are harmed by the negligence of a doctor or other medical professional, that won’t necessarily lead to a criminal arrest. Regardless of any criminal case, however, you can still sue in civil court for damages such as medical bills and pain and suffering. That’s what malpractice law is all about.

The other main area of law is criminal law. A criminal case is different from a civil case in many ways. Criminal cases are brought by the government against individuals accused of crimes, and sentences are meted out instead of awards.

Paralegals and legal assistants

Attorneys are the big names in most law practices, but they don’t do their work alone. How could they? There are so many responsibilities, from document discovery and legal forms to everyday business concerns like payroll and IT. There are lots of roles in a law practice. Among the most important from a legal perspective are those of paralegals and legal assistants.

You don’t have to go to law school to become a paralegal, but you do need to train and earn certifications. Legal assistant roles vary in their job requirements. These professionals help lawyers help their clients; without their legal expertise and assistance, the attorneys who employ them would soon be overwhelmed.

Court reporters

Court reporters, also known as stenographers, play a crucial role in depositions, court hearings, and other legal proceedings. Court reporters take down every word that is said in these sorts of proceedings — in real time. To do that, explain experts who employ court reporters in Miami, Florida, court reporters need to use a special typewriterlike machine called a stenotype and need to master a certain form of shorthand. It’s not an easy task to keep up with the dialogue in a busy courtroom.