Friday, June 20, 2008

What Kind Of Job Can You Get With A Law Degree?

I just posted an answer on, and I thought I'd share.

The question: What kind of job can you get with a law degree?

My Answer:

The most obvious answer is: an attorney. After obtaining a law degree from an ABA accredited law school, a person becomes eligable to take a state bar exam and, if they pass the bar exam, may then practice law within that state. An attorney who has passed the bar exam is allowed practice any field of law, with the exception of maritime law and patent law (which have their own national bar exams -- note, the patent bar exam requires a minimum amount of science credits). Although a person may specialize in tax law without also being a certified public accountant, prior tax experience is generally required for any position specializing in tax law.

In most states, attorneys are also eligable for other licenses, including a real estate license, allowing them to become a realtor or broker, as well as a notary public license. Common alternative careers for persons with a law degrees include business administration, human resources, government administration and non-attorney positions within the insurance industry. Entertainment and media are also not uncommon field for former attorneys: notable figures ranging from John Grisham to Geraldo Rivera were once attorneys.

Generally, a legal training indicates that a person is skilled in analytical reasoning and argumentation, and has the ability to distill large amounts of information or complex fact patterns. Although law school is considered a "professional" education, aspiring law students should realize that the law, by itself, is either an academic or political discipline, and law practice generally draws on skills from other fields. Although not required, if a person has a desire to practice a particular field of law, then a background in a particular industry is helpful before entering law school.

The notion of entering law school because it is supposedly a "versatile" degree has been heavily challenged, and aspiring law students should take caution that a law degree is not an alternative to an MBA. A non-legal job is generally considered a backup for a person with a law degree, and as a general rule a person seeking such a job either tried and hated actual law practice, failed to achieve success as an attorney, or some combination of the two. A law degree is expensive and, generally, meant for persons who intend to practice law (or teach law, if you can get into a TOP school).

When an aspiring law student indicates a desire to enter law school because they do not know what they want to do and they perceive law school as a spring-board to a successful career, a good admissions consultant will encourage them to gain real world experience (either in other industries or within the legal profession) before entering law school. In fact, many top law schools will consider prior experience as a non-quantatative factor in making an admissions determination.

As a side note, there has been a series of terrific articles on alternative careers for lawyers at the Above The Law Blog, here.

Related Posts:

Lack of Financial Responsibility Prevents Admission to the Bar: is it "Character And Fitness," or is "The Man," holding us down?

How Law School Rankings Take Advantage Of Prospective Law Students

Not Every Law Graduate Makes 160k

False Advertising in Legal Education

What Kind of Job Can You Get With A Law Degree

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