Area: Private Practice

Sub-Area:

  • Counsel
  • Administration
  • Librarianship

Employers:

  • Large multi-office firms
  • Medium-size firms
  • Small firms
  • Sole practitioners
  • Legal clinics
  • Other private legal services

Strategies & Information:

  • Acquire excellent research and writing skills.
  • Obtain clerkships or internships.
  • Large and medium-size firms frequently emphasize grades and class rank and value law review and moot court experience.
  • Those in administration handle office management (e.g. work flow), business development, clerk and attorney recruitment, clerkship programs, finances, and human resources.
  • Law librarianships may require a master's in library or information science in addition to the law degree.
  • Expect to exhibit management and marketing expertise and practice profitably.

Area: Corporate Law

Sub-Area:

  • In-House Counsel:
    • Transactional
    • Litigatory
  • Private Practice

Employers:

  • Any large corporation (largest number of attorneys are at corporate headquarters)
  • Law firms with corporate law and related business practice areas

Strategies & Information:

  • Corporate office summer clerkships and entry level positions are rare.
  • Usually only experienced lawyers are hired by corporations.
  • 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 Law

Sub-Area:

  • Counsel
  • Legal Aid Services
  • Public Defense
  • Civil Rights Law

Employers:

  • Legal Services Corporation
  • Legal aid societies
  • Federal, state, and local government
  • Public defender offices
  • Private groups
  • Nonprofit and public interest organizations, e.g. ACLU, NAACP Legal Defense Fund
  • Law firms practicing public interest law

Strategies & Information:

  • 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

Sub-Area:

  • Counsel

Employers:

  • Most government branches have legal counsel; some of the largest employers of lawyers are:
    • Department of Justice
    • Federal Bureau of Investigation
    • Environmental Protection Agency
    • Central Intelligence Agency
    • Federal Trade Commission
    • Internal Revenue Service
    • Securities and Exchange Commission
    • Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps for all branches of the military

Strategies & Information:

  • Complete an internship program with the federal government to get a foot in the door.
  • Many lawyers start as an Assistant U.S. Attorney.
  • 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: Federal Government

Sub-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 & Information:

  • 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

Sub-Area:

  • Criminal Prosecution
  • Civil Law
  • Public Defense

Employers:

  • District Attorney's Office
  • Attorney General's Office
  • State agencies, commissions, boards, executive and legislative office staff
  • Local agencies and commissions
  • City and county law offices

Strategies & Information:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Area: Education

Sub-Area:

  • Teaching
  • Student Affairs (Law Schools and General Schools)
  • 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 including:
    • Judicial Affairs Office
    • Dean of Students
    • Human Resources

Strategies & Information:

  • For teaching: Obtain several years of experience in private practice or government agency. The LLM degree and an outstanding academic record are 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 on campus in 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: Patent, Copyright, Intellectual Property Law

Sub-Area:

Employers:

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

Strategies & Information:

  • This highly specialized area usually requires technical, science, or engineering degrees at the undergraduate or graduate level.
  • These lawyers help protect clients' clams to copyrights, inventions, software, etc.

Area: Financial Planning, Estate Planning, Investment Banking

Sub-Area:

Employers:

  • Bank trust departments
  • Brokerage firms
  • Insurance companies
  • Development offices for preparatory schools, hospitals, and universities

Strategies & Information:

  • 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: Energy Law, Natural Resources and Environmental Law

Sub-Area:

Employers:

  • Law firms
  • Corporations
  • Federal agencies, especially Department of Energy
  • Environmental compliance services companies
  • State agencies
  • Regulatory commissions
  • Advocacy organizations

Strategies & Information:

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

Area: Family and Juvenile Law

Sub-Area:

Employers:

  • Private practice
  • Government agencies
  • Nonprofit organizations

Strategies & Information:

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

Area: Health Law

Sub-Area:

Employers:

  • Law firms
  • Insurance companies
  • Health Maintenance Organizations
  • Hospitals
  • Government agencies

Strategies & Information:

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

Area: International Law

Sub-Area:

  • Public
  • Private

Employers:

  • Governments
  • International organizations
  • United Nations
  • World Bank
  • Private firms
  • Large corporations

Strategies & Information:

  • 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.

Area: Politics

Sub-Area:

  • Lobbying/Government Relations
  • Elected Office

Employers:

  • Corporations
  • Trade and professional associations
  • Political action committees
  • Law firms
  • Public interest advocacy groups

Strategies & Information:

  • 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 Master's of Public Administration.

General Information and Strategies