Discover The Career Paths You Can Take With A J.D.
Getting your law degree is a major achievement. It also empowers you to pursue a wide range of career opportunities, especially after you pass the bar exam.
The Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree prepares you for a career in private practice, as a sole practitioner or in a law firm, in a business as in-house counsel, or as a mediator or arbitrator, among many other possibilities. From business law in a corporate setting, to civil litigation out of your home office, to video game law, there’s no shortage of career paths available to you in the practice of law.
15 Jobs You Can Do With a Law Degree
The truth is, so many legal opportunities exist because our everyday lives need the skills lawyers possess – like mediating, protecting and upholding personal rights, and safeguarding the organizations we work for, buy from, and interact with. The sheer volume of job options that arise from these needs can be overwhelming at first, but too many choices isn’t a bad thing. The key is understanding all of your options, exploring them in depth, and deciding which track works best for you.
We’ve jump-started the process for you by giving an overview of some—but not all—of the job options available to you with a J.D.
1. Business Lawyer
Business lawyers typically work for an in-house legal team at an organization, and work daily to protect the wellbeing of their company. Whether externally or internally, business lawyers interpret business and corporate-facing laws and regulations, and offer advice and make recommendations for their clients and employers. In a nutshell, they keep things running smoothly, from contract revisions to sales, purchases, matters of human resources and trademarks.
2. Bankruptcy Lawyer
Bankruptcy is a form of debt relief that involves debtors and creditors reaching a settlement of their obligations and claims, supervised by courts. Bankruptcy lawyers typically serve individuals or organizations that are indebted to creditors, or serve the creditors themselves. Sometimes they represent creditor committees and trustees instead. As a bankruptcy lawyer, your key duties would be to assist clients through the court process of bankruptcy.
3. Civil Rights Lawyer
Civil rights lawyers specialize in the recognition and protection of our rights, privileges and liberties as citizens of the United States. As a civil rights lawyer, you would work to resolve disputes between people and government, or between private individuals or companies, where the defendant allegedly denied the plaintiff privacy, property, or other rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
4. Constitutional Lawyer
Constitutional lawyers manage cases that involve applying and interpreting U.S. constitutional laws. They often practice in federal courts, and a few even appear before the United States Supreme Court.
Whether protecting our rights regarding freedom of speech, due process, or equal protection, you would work to set the standard of important laws as a constitutional lawyer.
5. Contract Lawyer
Contract law involves agreements between individuals and organizations. When agreements are not followed, as set forth by these parties, matters can be taken to court under “breaches of contract.” That’s where contract lawyers come in. As a transactional contract lawyer, you would draft, revise and set forth the terms in contracts, and as a litigator you would take matters to court when breaches occur.
6. Criminal Lawyer
There are two types of criminal lawyers—defense attorneys and prosecuting attorneys—who work to defend on opposite sides of the justice system and rarely switch sides. Prosecutors, of course, represent the government in someone accused of committing a crime. As a criminal defense lawyer, you would present your clients’ defenses in court, including presentation of evidence and questioning of witnesses, often before a jury. The stakes and emotions are high, and both sides want the very best from their lawyers.
7. Digital Media and Internet Lawyer
Digital media and internet lawyers work in the cyberspace sector, covering the legal protection of content built, and created for websites and online businesses. As a cyber lawyer, you would work with individuals, businesses, government entities and non-profits to prevent data breaches, protect and license original creative works, protect consumer privacy, and more. Some such lawyers even get involved in working with law enforcement to prevent and prosecute crimes committed using information technology, computers, mobile phones and other devices.
8. Entertainment Lawyer
Entertainment lawyers represent, protect and uphold the rights of creatives, executives, organizations and more in film, TV, news media, theatre, music, and even publishing. From intellectual property to contract and labor laws, as well as litigation, the issues entertainment lawyers resolve are far-reaching. If you’re interested in representing high-stakes clients, entertainment law might be a good fit for you.
9. Environmental Lawyer
Whether they’re protecting land from development, holding entities accountable for their treatment of our ecosystem as EPA lawyers, or helping companies comply with immensely complicated and often conflicting environmental laws and regulations, environmental lawyers act as representatives and protectors of our land and its resources. As an environmental lawyer, you would work on important issues like clean water, clean air, habitat preservation, and land management.
10. Estate Planning Lawyer
Estate planning lawyers help with wills, trusts, and property rights. Whether drafting a will for your clients, helping those who have lost loved ones with probate, or planning complex estate tax and investment strategies, you are helping people with some of the most important and difficult aspects of their lives. Estate planning lawyers draft these legal documents, and also act to ensure that the provisions of wills and trusts are carried out as set forth by the person who made them.
11. Family Lawyer
Family law encompasses a whole range of issues related to marriage, children, and families. From pre-nuptial agreements to divorce, child custody, alimony and property settlements, family lawyers help people through tough times and even tougher decisions. Some family lawyers even handle domestic violence cases, obtaining restraining orders to prevent one party from harming another physically or emotionally. As a family lawyer, you would need a wide range of legal skills to help draft contracts, pleadings and other legal documents, as well as negotiating skills.
12. Finance and Securities Lawyer
Finance and securities lawyers have a complex and multifaceted job. As a finance and securities lawyer, you would likely provide legal advice to organizations, like banks, undergoing large transactions like acquisitions or liquidations, as well as drafting and negotiating the contracts that set forth these terms. You’d help companies comply with all laws and regulations when issuing stock, bonds, and other financial instruments. You’d also advise banks and other financial institutions on systems of compliance. As laws and regulations surrounding financial investments are constantly changing, finance and securities lawyers play a very important role in our economy, when things are good and when things go awry.
13. Government Lawyer
Government lawyers work in all the different branches of government. Their job duties are as diverse as the agencies where they work (DOJ, EPA, DOE, etc.). Whether enforcing state or federal law, advising local authorities, creating positions on policy issues, or drafting statutes and regulations, you would represent the interests of the government in major or minor matters that serve and benefit the public.
14. Immigration Lawyer
The U.S. immigration process can be daunting for those seeking entry, asylum, or citizenship. Immigration lawyers help clients analyze their rights and determine eligibility for immigration and other statuses, guiding them through every step of the process—from paperwork to testimony.
15. Intellectual Property Lawyer
Intellectual property is more than an idea; it is an idea that has taken a legally protectable form, such as a book. Patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets are the main types of intellectual property that individuals and companies seek to protect and profit from. Intellectual property lawyers help their clients protect these assets by establishing ownership over them, and then help their clients profit from them by selling and licensing them. As an intellectual property lawyer, you would uphold the rights of your clients, guiding them through the acquisition, protection processes, as well as taking things to court when their rights have been infringed.
Kickstart Your Legal Career with St. Francis School of Law
These are just a few of the many career paths available to you upon completion of your J.D., passing the bar exam and being admitted to practice law. While we could spend hours talking about the sheer number of career possibilities a legal degree could bring, we want to hear from you. What career path fascinates you the most, and what do you need to get there?
That’s where law school at St. Francis comes in. Our 100% online program is designed to meet your unique needs and provide you with the skills to excel in any legal career path you take.