Many students enter law school with hopes of dedicating their lives to the pursuit of justice or with dreams of being the big-shot general counsel of a large company. However, the reality is that many law graduates change their minds about becoming lawyers. Perhaps the job isn’t what they thought or the job market is too unstable. Once you have your J.D. in hand and student loans paid off, practicing law seems like your only choice. Not so. Here are a few ways law grads like you can use their degree outside of law:
1. Human resources
A career in human resources isn’t just reserved for business school graduates. HR is a great field for those with a legal background because many tasks in the HR department are regulated by state and federal laws. Human resources managers may handle or manage finances and payroll, employee relations, and ensure regulatory compliance. Your experience analyzing regulatory policy and legal documents makes you well-suited for interpreting and applying these regulations. Plus, a lawyer’s attention to detail, deadline-oriented nature, and tact when handling sensitive matters can serve him or her well in a human resources position.
2. Writing, editing, or journalism
Law grads generally have a knack for writing clearly and persuasively—and as one, you likely have experience writing or editing legal briefs, pleadings, and legal analyses. Plus, after late nights in the law library, you’re likely accustomed to conducting research.
These skills open up additional avenues of employment to you, including content and technical writing, journalism, and even creative writing (think John Grisham). Such a career requires you to utilize your research skills, hone in on minute details, and develop top-notch organizational skills to keep up with fast and frequent deadlines. It can also help to be a bit more tech-savvy, since much of the content you’ll be writing will be for the web.
3. Higher education
If you still enjoy the concept of law, but don’t want to practice law, you might consider applying for a faculty or administrator position within a law school. Teaching can be a rewarding experience, and may be a greater source of fulfillment than working in private practice or as a public defender. If teaching isn’t quite up your alley, look at leadership opportunities within admissions, student affairs, or the registrar’s office. Your knowledge of legal matters, your ability to negotiate, and your strong assessment skills can benefit these departments tremendously.
4. Government-related work
Many positions in or related to government may be of interest to law grads. With your skills of persuasion and your understanding of the laws dictating public policy, you may find a career as a lobbyist, legislative director, or even a legislator to be a fulfilling
If you’re looking for greater meaning in your work, be sure to prioritize finding an organization or cause that you truly care about. Lobbyists often get a bad rap, but as with any career, there are a range of options. True, there are lobbyists for large companies and industries, but there are also lobbyists for institutions of education, charities, and causes. Stick with your morals, and you can find the position rewarding.
You may also consider becoming a Foreign Service Officer. This career combines your legal expertise with your interest in promoting world peace and global partnerships. One additional option in government that might appeal to you is running for office. Whether you are interested in local, state, or federal governance, you can use your legal background, persuasion, negotiating expertise, and public speaking skills to win over constituents and have a positive impact on your community, state, or country.
image credit: CC 2.0
Brenna Tonelli is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.