Law Graduates Don’t Have to be Lawyers

28 Feb

Getting a degree in law doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll pursue a career in law. Actually, many law school graduates never even practice law, instead moving into different careers. Though seemingly unrelated, a law degree does teach some transferable skills and knowledge that can be useful in different settings.


That’s good news, particularly for American law school graduates, who are increasing at an alarming rate while jobs are less available than ever. Most grads won’t find jobs at top firms or be able to start their own partnerships right away. Unemployment is high, loan debt is high, and some grads might do well to consider an alternate route to success.


Popular alternate routes include working jobs as a negotiation and conflict resolution mediator, since legal knowledge is extremely important especially for large corporations. Many law grads also go on to be high-ranking executives within corporations and often work in areas like banking and finance.


A surprising number of grads get involved in government and politics as well. Consider these well known faces: Kenneth Mehlman, Hilary Clinton, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all have law degrees.


Law grads may also consider using their expertise to help influence public policy. If you feel strongly about an issue, becoming a public interest advocate could be an interesting and rewarding route to pursue. This can be done as an activist, member of an organization, or even as a journalist. Former U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey even did this, authoring his own book while being a successful lawyer at the same time.  Kendall Coffey actually has additional advice to those students who are determined to become lawyers, consider working with middle-class representation rather than traditional law firms.

“Law school deans preoccupied with rankings and prestige may be reluctant to emphasize middle-class lawyering,” Coffey wrote in an article addressed to law students. “But leaders of the bar are well positioned to emphasize that placing many graduates in successful careers is more important than placing a few in traditional law firms. While prestige is nice, it does not pay monthly mortgages, much less student loans.”



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