Student Career Choices: Options to Consider
- Law Firms:
Most new law graduates begin their legal career at a law firm. Because law firms vary greatly in size, there is a wide range of different types of practice, one of which may be right for you. As a general rule, large firms may have several hundred attorneys practicing in nearly every area of the law.
- Medium and smaller firms may either have a general practice in several areas, or focus on one particular practice area, such as intellectual property or family law. Recruiting in small and medium firms is usually a function of specific hiring needs. Although some smaller firms place advertisements with law schools and legal publications, and occasionally through on-campus recruiting, many positions in firms of this size are not advertised. For this reason, the primary way to search for these jobs is through networking and by sending resumes and cover letters to targeted firms.
- Hiring practices of large law firms are more structured, and these firms often employ recruiting coordinators to run their programs. Large law firms often conduct on-campus recruiting efforts directed primarily at second year students, but a small number of large firms also hire first year students for summer clerkships. These firms often use hiring requirements such as grades, law journals and moot court participation as a means of screening applicants.
- Governmental Agencies:
There are numerous opportunities for law graduates and law students within federal, state, county and city governments. Jobs in government cover a wide range of possibilities for legal and administrative positions, including assistant prosecuting attorney, Senate research assistant, JAG Corp. attorney, or juvenile office attorney. Recruiting for government jobs may be conducted on-campus, or more often, by advertisement of open positions. Check the Government and Public Interest Handbook, available in Room 103, for a comprehensive listing of job opportunities in government.
- Judicial Clerkships:
For students interested in gaining first-hand exposure to the court system, clerking with a federal or state court judge offers an excellent opportunity to see the legal process in action. Students interested in a career in litigation are particularly well served to experience the judicial perspective.
Depending upon the level of the court, judicial clerkships can be highly competitive, and since each judge hires his or her own clerks, the process is not uniform throughout the country or even the state. For more detailed information about the hiring process for a judicial clerkship, see the Judicial Clerkship page.
- Corporate Legal Departments:
Corporations often employ attorneys to handle legal matters rather than retaining outside counsel. Most in-house positions are filled by experienced attorneys (laterals), although occasionally a corporation will hire a new graduate. More often, however, new hires come from law firms and government agencies.
- Public Interest Law:
Public interest attorneys provide legal representation to those who cannot afford private counsel or may champion public causes for social change. Although the pay is often low, attorneys practicing in the public interest area often gain faster, more meaningful litigation experience, and often report greater job satisfaction than their private firm counterparts. There are many fellowships in this field available to new graduates. Check the Government and Public Interest Handbook, available in the the Career Development Library (Room 103), for a comprehensive listing of public interest opportunities.
- Non-Traditional Jobs:
Non-traditional positions for law graduates include law librarian, banking, legal publishing, compliance, human resources, insurance, labor and employment, accounting, real estate, education, business and career services professional, to name just a few possibilities. There are a number of books on the subject of non-traditional careers located in the Career Development Library.
- Advanced Degree Programs:
There are numerous L.L.M. programs in many practice areas (e.g., dispute resolution, tax, intellectual property, etc.) Most L.L.M. programs take one year to complete. Check out Appendix B in the Official Guide to ABA Law Schools for a complete listing of these programs.