Law Career Paths
You may be wondering about your career after law school. What are the jobs for someone with a law degree? Are there multiple types of careers in law? Embarking upon a career after graduating from the Drexel Kline School of Law is very exciting, as the possibilities are endless. That’s why it is helpful to gain a clear understanding of some of the common legal – as well as non-legal – career paths of our graduates. Here you will find information on careers in Law Firms, Judicial Clerkships, Legal Internships and even in Non-Legal (JD Advantage) opportunities.
Types of Law Jobs
There are a number of different law career paths graduates can follow after earning their degree from Drexel Kline School of Law, including jobs with law firms, posts in government or public interest, and more. For more details, read on.
Law Firm Jobs
Although there are many different law career paths, more attorneys work in law firms than any other segment of legal practice. This holds true for Drexel’s law graduates, who find themselves at both large and small firms.
Large firms often serve large, multi-national corporations and split their organization into various departments, such as Corporate Law, Litigation, Labor & Employment Law, and Intellectual Property, to name a few. Junior associates (recently admitted attorneys) often work on teams of attorneys, reporting to more senior associates, who then correspond with the partner overseeing the matter.
Firms of this size often work on both national and international business transactions, and have multiple offices throughout the U.S. – and sometimes the world. Larger firms are attractive for their location in large metropolitan areas, extensive training, early hiring timeframe, and the prospect of higher starting salaries than other entry-level positions.
Small firms tend to have fewer people to handle work, and therefore work on smaller, more discrete cases and focus on fewer practice areas. They are usually less expensive, which generally attracts more individual clients than large corporations. Because of this, attorneys, including newer associates, are expected to bring in new clients more rapidly than at larger firms.
Small firms are attractive due to their emphasis on a better work-life balance, increased autonomy and direct client contact for associates much earlier in their careers. Similar to those at larger firms, attorneys at smaller firms can focus on a particular area of law, or serve as generalists, handling numerous types of matters.
Government and Public Interest Jobs
Working for a federal, state or local agency requires a strong commitment to serve the public. The application process for government positions can be time-consuming, but these jobs offer excellent experience and the opportunity to develop expertise early in one’s career. These positions can be very competitive, and we offer resources to create compelling applications. Similarly, public interest law (which includes direct service as well as public defender and district attorneys offices) can be enormously satisfying career paths that require significant commitment and a strong track record.
Drexel Kline School of Law offer a breadth of educational offerings related to public interest careers, including working in clinics or co-ops while still in school. Some also partake in our nationally ranked Trial Advocacy program and all students are required to complete 50 hours of Pro Bono work in order to graduate. These programs allow students the opportunity to apply much of what they learn as they go, and make many valuable connections. Each year, Drexel Kline School of Law participates in the Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair, the largest gathering of public interest attorneys in the U.S. and we provide advising regarding career paths, including post-graduate fellowships.
Judicial clerkships are one of the most popular types of internships during law school, particularly during one’s first summer (between first and second year of law school). Interning for a state or federal court judge not only boosts your resume, but can also improve your legal research and drafting skills. In addition you have the opportunity to be mentored by a judge. Full-time judicial clerkship opportunities following graduation are an excellent bridge to full-time practice, and we strongly encourage students to consider federal or state clerkships following graduation. These are full-time, paid positions with benefits and are usually one or two years in duration. Regardless of whether you intend to work in the private, public, government or academic sector of law, clerkships are an exceptional way to begin your legal career.
While both state and federal clerkships provide invaluable experience, a federal clerkship is often more highly valued by larger law firms. Federal clerkships involve doing a lot of research and writing, and typically require strong academic credentials, including Law Review. At Drexel Kline School of Law, we provide a detailed roadmap to federal clerkships through programs and personal advising.
For those who wish to be at the center of the action in court each and every day, focusing on motions and discovery practice, a state clerkship may be the best fit. Also, for those who wish to practice in a certain jurisdiction (e.g., Pennsylvania) it may be beneficial to pursue a state clerkship in the jurisdiction of choice and establish strong local connections. For example, if you seek to practice law in Delaware, clerking for the Delaware Chancery Court is an outstanding opportunity to learn, network and build your resume.
Non-Legal (JD Advantage) Jobs
While many students choose to practice law in a variety of sectors after graduation, some students may find themselves gravitating towards a non-legal career. The term JD Advantage is used to encompass these types of positions, often in corporate compliance, banking, or privacy and cybersecurity. A JD can prove useful in many non-law careers, although the job search may prove more challenging. The road to a JD Advantage position requires individualized attention and strong networking skills, but can be enormously satisfying. One way for our students following this path to increase their appeal to potential employers is by obtaining a joint degree or completing an LLM degree in a related field.
Unlike many other professional degrees, the benefit of having a JD is the opportunity to work in a wide range of industries. Not only does law school teach you how to become an attorney, but it also teaches important skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and the ability to write clearly and succinctly. So what are some alternative jobs for law graduates? Here are just a few non-legal jobs with a law degree:
A deep understanding of the law is now commonly needed in today’s entrepreneurial landscape. Drexel Kline School of Law’s JD-Master of Business Administration Program or a Business and Entrepreneurship Law Concentration can serve to greatly support your career in business. The Entrepreneurial Law Clinic even allows students to work with local Philadelphia start-ups. Not only do these programs help to prepare students for the practice of transactional law and litigation, but also benefits those looking to pursue roles as business executives, owners, and investors. This joint degree offers beneficial coursework such as Managerial Economics, Managerial Accounting, Corporate Financial Management and Strategic Management. The program also allows students to experience working with some of the most notable business professionals in the local community.
Consulting is another common non-law profession for JD graduates. Companies hire consultants to work in a variety of sectors such as engineering, finance or healthcare. A JD degree is often very appealing for these employers, as the position requires strong interpersonal skills, creative problem solving and teamwork. In fact, some companies go as far as to specially recruit individuals with JD degrees for these roles. Since competition for these types of jobs can be aggressive, a JD can often set a candidate apart.
Some law school graduates find themselves attracted to the world of finance, such as investment banking, hedge funds, private equity and venture capital. Although those with MBAs make up a large portion of those in this job market, other graduate degrees, such as a JD degree, can also be found attractive. This is because these types of roles often require strong quantitative skills, and a deep understanding of business.
Are You Ready to Further Your Legal Career?
To learn more about what steps to take next in your legal career, submit a request for more information about the many degrees offered at Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law, or learn how to apply today.