By Ann Skalaski
Not everyone who earns a law degree chooses to practice law. Recent law school graduates who are not yet admitted to the Bar, or do not plan to take the Bar exam, are often unsure about how to approach their job search. As a legal recruiter, I am often asked, “Does a law degree have value outside of the practice of law?” And, “if so, how do I market myself?” There are general skills acquired during law school such as research and writing, fact-finding, and analytical skills; however, identifying jobs that you should pursue, and knowing how to market yourself, will depend on your unique background, skills and personal career goals. So, it is helpful to begin by reflecting on why you went to law school, what you learned in law school, what you do well, what you enjoy doing and even those things that capture your interest. Asking yourself these questions—and writing down your answers— will help you come up with some broad ideas of settings and fields where you might enjoy working. These insights will help you identify and evaluate opportunities that could be a good fit for you, while also enabling you see and communicate how you would add value.
Any job that was available to you before law school, based on your undergraduate degree or past work experience, is still an option. Often employers will value your legal education even if it is not a requirement for the job. However, if you want to blend your background, interests and legal education, there are plenty of options to consider. Some are legal positions, quasi-legal positions or even non-traditional jobs —but there are countless opportunities that intersect with the law and do not require Bar admission. Some positions will require specific undergraduate degrees or skills, so you will need to take your background in to consideration. Here is a selection of fields and/or settings where you could make use of your legal education:
- Teaching – Undergraduate, Community College, Legal Assistant program, High School or substitute.
- Court Administration – docket clerk, case manager, staff attorney, etc.
- State Government – Department of Insurance, Department of Business Oversight, etc.
- Law Firm – Recruiting, HR, marketing, library services, document review/Records Manager.
- Law Enforcement – FBI, CIA, hearing office, investigator.
- Journalism – legal correspondent, free-lance writer for any publication.
- Risk Management – Healthcare provider, law firm litigation support, insurance company.
- Corporate Human Resources – recruiting, corporate training, EEOC compliance, etc.
- Staffing – Legal Recruiter/Headhunter, or non-legal staffing specialist.
- Real estate – Title examiner, Escrow Officer, Realtor.
- Banking – Legal Specialist, Fraud Investigator, Fraud Risk Manager, Loan Officer, Financial Services Specialist, etc.
- Corporate In-House – law clerk, staff attorney.
Anything on that list catch your eye? Try doing some easy on-line research to see what current opportunities in that field or setting look interesting. Then, evaluate positions based on how they relate to your career goals. For example, if you are ultimately interested in real estate law and want to get some valuable experience while waiting to take the Bar exam, you may want learn more about working as a title examiner. Title examiners are generally employed by title companies and banks, and are used by real estate agents and developers. So, who do you know that could introduce you to a title examiner so that you could learn more about what they do, and maybe even get some job leads? Try to arrange as many informal meetings or “informational interviews” as you can. Always asking if there are other jobs or opportunities that you should be considering within the field that interests you. While you may be tempted to skip the informational interviews and begin applying for positions, this step is an important part of the process. Those who you talk to have a broader view of their industry and may see options that are an even better fit for you than those you have identified. Furthermore, these discussions also prepare you for future interviews.
In summary, if you take the time to identify your strengths and career goals, research positions in the areas that interest you, network with those who can provide additional information and referrals, you will position yourself to find a job that could be the beginning of a very rewarding career…with or without Bar admission.
~Center for Professional Development~