10 Potential Career Paths for Law School Grads

If you are thinking about law school, chances are you know you want to be a lawyer, and there are so many directions your legal career can take. You’ve probably realized by now that being a lawyer often bears little resemblance to attorneys in TV dramas who almost always win trials in the most dramatic way possible. This type of outcome is not the norm. For most attorneys, excellent reading, writing, research and negotiation skills are what pushes them to the top of their field. Courtroom antics usually have little to do with it.  The best part about being a lawyer is that you can choose a career path where your interests and skills intersect with the law.

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Criminal Defense or Criminal Prosecutor

If you feel connected to people who are down on their luck either because they are a victim of a crime or have been accused of a crime, consider getting a job as a criminal defense attorney in Phoenix or with the district attorney in your hometown. Both types of attorneys are essential to the operation of our Constitution.

Maritime Lawyer

If you have an interest in boats and shipping, becoming a maritime or admiralty lawyer might be a perfect combination. These attorneys also handle offshore disasters as well as environment litigation.

Regulatory Attorney

Regulatory or compliance lawyers work for many different businesses where there are strong and possibly confusing regulations that govern the operations of the organizations. Compliance officers make sure employees and employers follow the rules for everyone’s safety and benefit.


Although TV litigators are generally flashy, usually the winningest litigators are simply those who have done their homework and present the best case. One way to determine whether this is the career path for you is to participate in mock trial competitions in law school. If doing the research and prep work is equally exciting as arguing the case, this might be the direction to focus on.

Mediation Specialist

If you’re good with people and good at conflict resolution, you might enjoy being a mediator or arbitrator. These specialized attorneys work to resolve conflicting issues between parties before they become cumbersome lawsuits.

Specific Field Expert

There are several pockets of law that require specific in-depth knowledge to be effective. Just as some doctors have specialties like dermatology or urology, lawyers can also be experts in education or elder law, for example. These lawyers focus their practice on one particular area of the law and become sought-after authorities for cases in those realms.

Judge Advocates

Also called JAGs, judge advocates are lawyers who join a branch of the military either for a few years or for their entire career. Judge advocates practice all types of law including criminal, civil, labor, contract and international law.

Law Clerk

If you’re not quite sure what you want to do and would like to get a closer look at how the legal system works, apply for internships during law school at city, county or state district attorneys’ offices. Often these are unpaid, but you receive course credit for your work. If you maintain excellent grades, you might qualify for a coveted judicial clerkship on a state or federal court.

Law Professor

A legal career path that keeps you out of the courtroom is that of teacher. Most law professors ranked high in their graduating class and completed a judicial clerkship for at least a US district court of appeals judge or higher or they attended graduate school and got an LLM. Some lawyers find jobs as adjunct professors at local law schools, teaching one or two classes at night on legal writing or their field of expertise.

Political Activist

Of the 45 presidents who have served in office, 26 of them practiced law or had law degrees. If you have an interest in politics, getting a law degree appears to set you down that path. Over 200 members of congress have law degrees, by far the highest percentage of any profession.

There are many and varied career paths for those with law degrees. Most lawyers have these traits in common: an attention to detail and a desire to advocate.

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Kevin Gardner

Kevin Gardner loves writing about technology and the impact it has on our lives, especially within businesses.