Area

Private Practice

  • Attorney
    • Partnership track
    • Non-partnership track
    • Contract
    • Document review
    • Administration

Employers

  • Large multi-office firms
  • Medium-size firms
  • Small firms

  • Sole practitioners
  • Legal clinics
  • Other private legal services

Strategies

  • Acquire excellent research and writing skills.
  • Obtain clerkships or internships during law school.
  • Large and medium-size firms frequently emphasize grades and class rank and value law review and moot court experience.
  • Expect to exhibit management and marketing expertise and practice profitably.
  • Those in administration handle office management (e.g., work flow), business development, clerk and attorney recruitment, clerkship programs, finances, and human resources.

Area

Business and Industry

  • Private practice
  • In-house counsel:
    • Transactional
    • Litigatory
  • Securities law

  • Law-related Areas:
    • Compliance
    • Procurement
    • Contracts
    • Human resources

  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Tax law
  • Legislative compliance
  • Liability issues
  • Contracts

Employers

  • Law firms with corporate law and related business practice areas
  • Any large corporation (largest number of attorneys are at corporate headquarters):
    • Accounting firms
    • Financial institutions and insurance companies

  • Continued:
    • Hospitals
    • Retailers
    • Consulting firms

Strategies

  • Corporate office summer clerkships and entry level in-house positions are rare.
  • Usually only experienced lawyers are hired by corporations as in-house counsel.  Entry-level positions in compliance, procurement, or other law-related departments are more common.
  • Develop tolerance for bureaucratic procedure.
  • An undergraduate major in business, particularly accounting or finance, is helpful.
  • A joint MBA/JD degree may open additional opportunities.

Area

Public Interest

  • Counsel
  • Legal aid services
  • Public defense
  • Civil rights law

  • Indigent services
  • Advocacy
  • Community outreach
  • Law reform

Employers

  • Legal Services Corporation
  • Legal aid societies
  • Federal, state, and local government

  • Public defender offices
  • Private public interest law firms

  • Nonprofit and public interest organizations (e.g., ACLU, NAACP Legal Defense Fund)
  • Unions
  • Foundations

Strategies

  • Gain supervised work experience in an area through summer internships.
  • Demonstrate a desire to help the economically disadvantaged and show an interest in law as a means of change.
  • Volunteer for non-profit organizations that serve a wide range of people.
  • Learn to communicate and interact with a diverse clientele.

Area

Federal Government

  • Litigation
  • Advisory/Counsel
  • Regulatory
  • Public Policy

Employers

  • Most government branches have legal counsel; some of the largest employers of lawyers are:
    • Department of Justice
    • Department of Defense
    • Department of Commerce
    • Federal Bureau of Investigation
    • Environmental Protection Agency
    • Central Intelligence Agency

  • Continued:
    •  Federal Trade Commission
    • Internal Revenue Service
    • Securities and Exchange Commission
    • Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) corps for all branches of the military

Strategies

  • Complete an internship program with the federal government to get a foot in the door.
  • New lawyers frequently go to court and litigate sooner; experience gained here can be valuable to private firms later.
  • Government work offers a variety of practice opportunities from criminal to contracts.
  • High academic achievement is emphasized by state and federal judges; federal judges usually require top 10% or 15% class rank.

Area

Judicial Clerkships

Employers

  • Federal courts of appeal and district court (trial) judges and magistrates
  • Bankruptcy and administrative law judges

  • State courts of appeal and trial level judges
  • Federal and state court clerkships for collective judges in a court

Strategies

  • Clerkships can be a stepping-stone to other legal areas and provide many benefits for future career opportunities.
  • For U.S. Supreme Court, applicants must be top law graduates with one to two years clerking at lower Federal Court.
  • Moot Court participation in regional and national competitions is helpful.
  • Law review membership, as an indication of writing ability, is highly valued and emphasized at all court levels.

Area

State and Local Government

  • Litigation
  • Advisory/Counsel
  • Regulatory

  • Public policy
  • Criminal prosecution
  • Public defense

Employers

  • District Attorney’s office
  • Attorney General’s office

  • Governor’s offices
  • State agencies
  • State legislatures

  • Cities, municipalities, counties, school districts, boards of education, and state universities
  • Public Defender’s offices

Strategies

  • Take essential courses related to criminal law, criminal procedure, constitutional law, and evidence.
  • Participate in a criminal clinical program.
  • Obtain summer positions in a prosecutor’s office or a criminal litigation office or private firms practicing criminal law.
  • New lawyers frequently go to court and litigate sooner; experience gained here can be valuable to private firms later.
  • Civil law deals with a broad range of subjects other than criminal matters and provides for a wide variety of functions including the opportunity to work with private lawyers and public officials.
  • A demonstrated interest in public issues and completion of related internships are helpful.
  • Consider earning a joint Master’s of Public Administration/JD degree.

Area

Education

  • Teaching
  • Student affairs
  • Law schools
  • Universities/Colleges

  • Higher education administration
  • Pre-law advising
  • Law librarianship
  • General counsel

Employers

  • Law schools including departments of:
    • Career services
    • Admissions
    • Student services

  • Law libraries
  • Business schools
  • Undergraduate departments of History and Political Science
  • Paralegal schools

  • Universities and colleges:
    • Judicial affairs/Student conduct office
    • Dean of students
    • Human resources

Strategies

  • For teaching: Obtain several years of experience in private practice or government agency. The LLM degree and an outstanding academic record are usually required for law school teaching. Teaching allows for more flexibility of time and Some lawyers teach on an adjunct basis.
  • For administration and student affairs, consider earning a master’s degree in College Student Affairs, Higher Education Administration, or related area. As an undergraduate, participate in campus leadership roles. In law school, secure a graduate assistantship in an office of interest, such as judicial affairs.
  • For librarianships, a master’s in library or information science, in addition to the law degree, is often required.

Area

Criminal Law

Employers

  • District Attorney’s offices
  • Law firms
  • Sole practitioners
  • Public Defender’s offices

Strategies

  • There are two sides to criminal law:  criminal defense attorneys, including public defenders, and prosecutors/district attorneys.
  • Criminal law requires outstanding oral and written communication skills and the ability to persuade others.
  • A deep understanding of federal, state, and local laws, and court procedures is necessary.

Area

Patent, Copyright, Intellectual Property Law

Employers

  • Law firms (specialized)
  • Corporations
  • U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Strategies

  • These lawyers help protect clients’ claims to copyrights, inventions, patents, creative work, etc.
  • This highly specialized area usually requires technical, science, or engineering degrees at the undergraduate or graduate level.

Area

Energy Law, Natural Resources and Environmental Law

Employers

  • Law firms
  • Corporations
  • Federal agencies (e.g., Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency)

  • State agencies
  • Environmental compliance services companies
  • Regulatory commissions

  • Advocacy organizations
  • Public interest groups

Strategies

  • This area involves rights to resources including those in the Earth and dangers in production of energy as well as transportation, taxation, patents, clean air and water, and government regulation.
  • An undergraduate major in environmental science, agriculture, engineering, or science may be good preparation.

Area

Family and Juvenile Law

Employers

  • Law firms
  • Sole practitioners
  • Government agencies

  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Adoption agencies

Strategies

  • Work with families and individuals on matters such as divorce, adoption, and juvenile justice.

Area

Health Law

Employers

  • Law firms
  • Insurance companies
  • Health maintenance organizations

  • Hospitals and nursing homes
  • Government agencies
  • Pharmaceutical companies

Strategies

  • Represent all parties in healthcare such as hospitals, physician groups, health maintenance organizations, individual doctors, insurance companies, and patients.

Area

International Law

  • Public:
    • Relations between governments and citizens
  •  Private:
    • Interactions of private citizens, corporations or other organizations

Employers

  • Governments
  • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
  • World Bank
  • International organizations

  • United Nations
  • Law firms
  • Large corporations

Strategies

  • This area deals with a myriad of issues faced by governments, corporations, or non-profits in an international arena.
  • Fluency in another language and familiarity with other cultures will help prepare one for this field.
  • Seek international experience by studying, volunteering, or working abroad.
  • Intern with a firm or organization that deals with international law.
  • It may be difficult to find an international law job immediately after law school.

Area

Immigration Law

Employers

  • Law firms
  • Nonprofit organizations assisting immigrants or refugees
  • Legal Aid

  • Government agencies (e.g., Immigration and Customs Enforcement)
  • Corporations employing international employees
  • Large corporations

Strategies

  • This area assists individuals or organizations dealing with issues of immigration, citizenship, naturalization, VISA/employment status, deportation, or asylum.
  • Fluency in another language, particularly Spanish, may increase opportunities in this field.

Area

Employment Law

Employers

  • Law firms
  • Large corporations
  • Government

  • Unions
  • Special interest groups

Strategies

  • Represent workers and employers on employment issues including wages, discrimination, harassment, unlawful termination, benefits and pensions, etc.

Area

Sports and Entertainment Law

Employers

  • Law firms
  • Sports teams
  • Universities/colleges
  • Studios

  • Record labels
  • Production companies
  • Other employers in the radio, television, movie, and video game industries

Strategies

  • Work with individual athletes or artists, as well as the sports and entertainment companies that hire them, on a range of issues including contracts, intellectual property, royalties, or disputes.
  • Firms specializing in this area are more commonly found in Los Angeles, New York City, and Nashville.

Area

Property/Real Estate Law

Employers

  • Law firms
  • Large corporations
  • Financial institutions

  • Government
  • Property management firms

Strategies

  • Deal with individuals or organizations on matters  related to land or property. Lawyers may focus on contractual work or litigation.

Area

Education Law

Employers

  • Educational institutions:
    • K-12 school districts
    • Universities/colleges

  • Government
  • Law firms

Strategies

  • Represent educational institutions, students, or parents on issues related to the educational process such as: special education rights, student discipline, teacher/administration selection/retention, etc.

Area

Financial Planning, Estate Planning, and Investment Banking

Employers

  • Bank trust departments
  • Brokerage firms

  • Insurance companies
  • Development offices for preparatory schools, hospitals, and universities

Strategies

  • Insurance “Estate Planning” positions require interest and ability in sales.
  • Bank trust department positions are good for those who do not want to litigate or be confrontational.
  • An undergraduate major in accounting or finance may be helpful.

Area

Politics

  • Lobbying/Government Relations
  • Elected Office

Employers

  • Corporations
  • Trade and professional associations
  • Political action committees

  • Law firms
  • Public interest advocacy groups
  • Government

Strategies

  • Clerkship or summer associate positions with law firms providing lobbying services provide good experience.
  • Demonstrate an interest in politics through your undergraduate major, active campaigning, or research papers/articles.
  • Obtain full-time law firm experience as a stepping stone into field.
  • Acquire superior writing skills.
  • Develop a pleasing personality, enthusiasm, and high energy level. Demonstrate a service-oriented attitude.
  • Show ability to work with people and good communication and organizational skills.
  • Learn to enlist the help of others.
  • Consider earning a joint Masters of Public Administration/JD degree.

General Information

  • Students interested in attending law school may choose any major of interest. Some undergraduate majors can help prepare students for a particular area of law, (e.g., a B.S. in environmental science) for a career in environmental law.
  • Develop strong research and writing skills. Enhance communication skills through public speaking courses, debate team, or Toast Masters (a public speaking organization).
  • Maintain a high grade point average to increase chances of gaining admission to law school, and thoroughly prepare for the LSAT (Law School Admission Test).
  • Join Phi Alpha Delta professional association.
  • Secure strong personal recommendations from professors.
  • Find part-time jobs or internships in law firms or government agencies to reality test your interest in law and to gain relevant experience.
  • Participate in mock trial, student government, student judiciary boards, and other related organizations.
  • Completing the law degree, Juris Doctor or JD, typically takes three years of full-time coursework.  After completion, one must pass a state bar examination in order to practice law in that state.
  • New law specialties are always emerging and the fields included here are not exhaustive. Consider your interests and skills when choosing an area of practice and research fields more thoroughly to learn how to effectively plan for a career in that area.
  • Law school graduates may also find job opportunities outside the field of law if interested in pursuing alternatives.