If you have a flair for communication and negotiation, becoming a lawyer could be the right profession for you. Additional characteristics such as critical thinking, analysis, and excellent reading skills are also necessary—but you’ll further develop those skills as a law student.
Are you positive you want to be a lawyer? Whether you have officially decided or not, it pays to understand the various career options you will have as a law school graduate.
Applying for Law School Explained
If you’re still on the fence about attending law school, you should spend time researching what it takes to become a lawyer before submitting your application to any school. You can talk to a practicing attorney or even take up a job at a law firm to understand what lawyers do.
If you’ve already completed your bachelor’s degree with a good GPA, the next step is to prepare for the Law School Admission Test, better known as the LSAT. On average, hopeful law students spend three months studying for the exam. You should research LSAT prep information and enroll yourself in an LSAT course to achieve the best results.
After taking the exam, you can start gathering all your official transcripts so that you can apply to multiple law schools simultaneously. Make sure you prepare an excellent personal statement that speaks volumes about your personality, academic achievements, career goals, and anything else relevant enough for the admissions committee to understand you.
Don’t forget to get recommendation letters from your undergraduate professors and employers, if any. Make sure you have all the information about the admission process of law colleges before applying for them—remember, application fees can add up.
Legal Career Options
As you apply for law school, you should have an idea of what specific career you want to pursue. While you don’t have to specialize in a specific legal field while applying, knowing what you want to do and why can help strengthen your application and interviews. Also, having an idea of your ideal career path will help you choose which courses to take, what internships to apply for, what clubs to join, what volunteer work to complete on the side, and which mentors to seek for guidance.
What career options will you have as a law school graduate? You can become any type of lawyer you choose. For example, you could pursue any of the following law specializations:
- Bankruptcy law
- Civil litigation
- Civil rights
- Corporate law
- Constitutional law
- Contract law
- Criminal law
- Environmental law
- Employment law
- Estate law
- Family law
- General practice law
- Intellectual property law
- International law
- Immigration law
- Medical malpractice law
- Personal injury law
- Real estate law
- Tax law
Options Outside the Law
With fierce competition within the legal job market, you may ultimately decide not to pursue a job as a lawyer at all. However, that doesn’t mean your law education will go to waste.
Thankfully, you can find many jobs outside the legal field that you’re uniquely qualified for with a law degree. These jobs are generally known as “JD preferred” or “JD advantage” jobs, and they can also be quite rewarding. Typically these positions do not require you to pass the bar exam. A few common JD preferred positions include:
- Corporate contracts administrator
- Alternative dispute resolution specialist
- Business intelligence analyst
- Legal compliance manager
- Legal operations
- Policy advocate
- Management consultant
- Legal editor or writer
- Government regulatory analyst
- FBI agent
- Land acquisition specialist
- Jobs at investment banks
- Jobs in human resources
- Jobs at law schools and in law professional development
Finding Success in the Legal Field
Being a successful lawyer is not just about how many cases you win or how much money you make per year. It depends on what success means to you. If you have the right attitude, fantastic communication skills, and can accept failure, you can do exceptionally well in your legal career.
Work on cultivating relationships and building a strong professional and personal network. Seek advice and guidance from your mentors and professional colleagues. Adopt a client-first attitude and be willing to face your challenges. With the right mindset and work ethic, nothing can stop you from being a successful lawyer in whatever area you choose. And if a law career doesn’t appeal to you in the end—you still have countless career options with a law degree.