Many job seekers looking to increase their opportunities consider the pros and cons of going to law school. On the one hand, a JD can cost a lot of time and money to attain, with no guarantee of getting a high paying law firm job to pay off that debt. On the other hand, a law degree can open doors into a wide variety of industries beyond the practice of law.
If you are wondering, “What can you do with a law degree?” consider some of the following ways that law school graduates use their education in non-traditional and often lucrative ways.
Here are six possible career paths for the law school graduate.
1. Start Your Own Business
Have you always dreamed of being your own boss? Do you have a product you want to launch or a service you think people will pay for?
Law school will provide you with many valuable skills which come in handy for entrepreneurs wanting to start their own businesses.
You may be able to save yourself some initial legal fees by setting up your own articles of incorporation for your new business. You may have sufficient knowledge of the tax laws and rules regarding wages to help get your new operation off the ground without having to hire an expensive attorney.
You will definitely benefit from having a law degree when you start your own business when you need to negotiate the terms of a lease, or ensure that your workplace complies with appropriate health and safety regulations.
2. Help People in Crisis
Maybe you do not want to toil in a large corporate law firm, but you still want to make a difference in people’s lives.
Many lawyers choose to be their own bosses in their own practices. You can focus on helping people through some of the most challenging situations in their lives.
People who have been in an accident, lost a loved one, or are going through a divorce rely on their lawyers to help them get the justice they deserve. If you really want to help people, think about pursuing a career like this lawyer.
By helping individuals navigate the legal system and get what they deserve, you can put your law degree to excellent use and achieve great personal satisfaction.
3.Write the Great American Novel
One of the most important skills you will learn in law school is how to write persuasively. Many great writers started their careers as lawyers!
John Grisham and Scott Turow were practicing attorneys before becoming best selling novelists. Harper Lee attended law school long before writing “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Many lawyers go on to successful careers in journalism and non-fiction as well. Jeffrey Toobin studied law at Harvard and even worked with the Justice Department for some time. He is now famous for his best selling books and frequent appearances commenting on current affairs on CNN.
The attention to writing structure and tone you will learn in law school will come in handy if you choose to channel your skills into the creative arts.
4. Serve on the Board of a Not-for-Profit
You don’t need to go to law school to effectuate positive change in the world. However, that law degree is very helpful if you want to serve on the board of a charity or large philanthropic organization.
Not-for-profits like lawyers to serve on their boards because of their expertise, stature in the community, good judgment, and negotiating skills. They can help immeasurably with governance, audits, budgets, PR and business development, grants and lobbying.
Some attorneys who have supported charities through financial contributions or pro bono work decide to sign on full time. It’s a great way to put that JD to work by giving back.
5. Climb the Corporate Ladder
Believe it or not, lawyers may not make as much money on an hourly basis as their corporate counterparts. Compare the salaries of attorneys with C level executives in Fortune 500 companies: CEOs and other officers often make far more than their legal representatives.
Many of the world’s top business executives have either MBAs or law degrees.
A law background is valued in the corporate world in the departments of HR, finance, operations and development. Many top executives rose to the top by using the knowledge they gained in law school and applying it to non-legal jobs.
6. Run for Office
Although their numbers are declining, lawyers still represent a large percentage of our federally elected officials. Lawyers now make up just under 40% of our representatives and senators.
25 of the 44 presidents have been lawyers.
Going to law school will give you a comprehensive education on how laws are passed, the political landscape, and how the Constitution has been interpreted over the years. What better preparation for leadership?
Many politicians begin their careers running for office in their local communities. Whether you are serving on the City Council or the School Board, if you went to law school you are equipped with knowledge that will help you handle the procedures and processes required by these governmental bodies.
Some lawyers choose to help people one at a time. Other decide to help an entire community by representing their town, county or state. Running for office or choosing to work within the government is a praiseworthy pursuit for a career after law school.
What Can You Do With a Law Degree? Absolutely Anything
Completing law school will demonstrate to employers in all industries that you are smart, hard working and analytical. You are likely to write well, have excellent public speaking skills, and be able to memorize and comprehend lots of information. Who wouldn’t want to hire someone with those kinds of abilities?
Whether you work in a law firm, in a different field, or you strike out on your own, a law school education will give you many advantages, no matter which direction you choose.
If you are wondering what can you do with a law degree, the answer is the sky is the limit.
For more guidance on careers, education, and life, explore our blog.