We interview law school graduates with thought-provoking questions for an insider look into the realities of a career in law, recipes for success, and the biggest challenges lawyers face today.
Litigation follows alleged harm. While some civil litigators spend significant time in the courtroom, there are many aspects to the adversarial process for you to explore—settlement negotiations, writing motions, document discovery, and more.
Civil Rights & Human Rights
Civil rights and human rights lawyers seek the expansion and protection of rights that individuals are theoretically entitled to as citizens of a nation or state (civil rights) or in virtue of being a person (human rights).
The criminal justice system pits individuals against the government over alleged crimes against people, property, and society. Representatives on both sides consider the facts, the law, and whether they can persuade a judge or jury.
These lawyers work for a corporation or government's law department, managing legal and regulatory matters. Here, the clients are internal but ultimately the organization instead of any individual.
These jobs do not require a law degree or license, but the JD still provides an advantage in either obtaining or doing the job. The JD is not your only path to most of these jobs, however.
Law as a Business
Many lawyers are small business owners who happen to provide legal services. Running a practice involves finding clients, managing the books, collecting bills, and much more.
Policy & Advocacy
Change takes many forms and comes about in many ways.
We live in a world bound by rules, from the fine print in credit card agreements to regulations that govern the air we breathe, how companies hire and fire people, and sanitation. These lawyers ensure that applicable state and federal rules are followed or properly implemented.
Known colloquially as "hanging a shingle," solo practitioners work for themselves and can build their practices however they see fit. Some have a general practice, while others do just a single area of law, a collection of related practice areas, or find a niche based on client type.
At the center of any deal between two or more parties is a contract that reflects due diligence, negotiation, and people who must work together once the ink is dry. But contracts are only one type of drafted document about two or more parties' intentions. These lawyers try to see the future and manage risk.
These lawyers are in the courtroom trying cases before judges and juries. Not all litigators spend a lot of time in the courtroom, but those who do tend to be a special breed.
These jobs are not impossible to get, but they're incredibly competitive and require some luck and immense effort. Dream jobs should inspire you, but a backup plan is still a good idea.