A legal analyst is a legal professional who thinks about legal problems, developing written communications which summarize legal issues and discuss several approaches to legal challenges. Legal analysts can work for law firms, governments, and private organizations, performing a range of tasks from analyzing the language in ballot initiatives and describing them in simple language for voter information guides to helping organizations mount legal challenges to laws which they believe are questionable.
Legal analysts are generally part of a legal support team, and they are rarely seen by the public. They need extensive legal skills including knowledge of jurisprudence along with very good written and spoken communication skills so that they can interact successfully with members of the company they work for. Legal analysts read current and proposed laws, published court opinions, and other materials relating to the law.
When they work for the government, legal analysts can provide legal opinions about the legality of various activities, recommendations for sound legal policy, discussions of proposed laws, and many other services. Government legal analysts can work in a number of capacities, from analyzing cases for judges in the judicial branch to helping representatives draft legislation in the legislative branch. Analysts who work for law firms can help build legal cases, look for loopholes in the law which may be of interest, and research the ramifications of activities undertaken by the firm.
In the case of a legal analyst who works for a private organization, the legal analyst may have an opportunity to interact with the public and become more well known. For example, a group advocating for women's rights might ask its legal analyst to lead a press conference or publish an opinion which discusses legal issues. Legal analysts can also be retained specifically by media organizations to provide analysis which will be printed or broadcast, in which case they may become noted members of the legal community.
The salary for a legal analyst varies, depending on the level of training he or she has received, and where the legal analyst works. Employees of private firms and media companies tend to make the most, while government legal analysts and employees of advocacy organizations generally make less. The more training and experience an analyst has, the higher the salary and benefits he or she can command. For this reason, investing in a reputable training program and taking advantage of internship opportunities with noted organizations and agencies is strongly recommended for people who want to make legal analysis a career.