Types of Employment: Non-Traditional Careers

Last updated: July 7, 2013

Georgetown University Law Center Career Book
Edited By Abbie Willard, Ph.D.

If you think it is difficult to choose among law school courses, seminars, and clinics wait until you see what is available after law school. A variety of alternatives are open to an individual who seeks to practice law or to combine law with other areas of interest and expertise. Among the more traditional types of practice, the following are most common.

There are innumerable career alternatives for the individual with a law degree who does not want a traditional legal practice. Today many students begin law school with no intent to practice. Others, in the course of their law school studies, decide to combine law with another discipline and accept positions in the more general fields of management and business. Before making such a decision, you will want to analyze carefully the pros and cons, understand your personal motivation and assess long term career goals. The decision should be a positive one and should be made out of enthusiasm for a new area and not made in a moment of frustration with the trials and tribulations of law school.

Because the law touches every aspect of life, legal training is a plus in virtually all careers. There are some careers, however, that deal with legal or quasi-legal issues on a regular basis -- and in those fields the degree is a real plus. What are some of those fields?

  • Labor Relations
  • Affirmative Action
  • Banking, Insurance and other financial fields
  • Real Estate
  • Lobbying
  • Mediation and Arbitration
  • Government Contracts
  • Law Enforcement
  • Government Relations

These positions are available in different settings which may require specific experience. It will be necessary to research each field of interest before making a definite career choice.

The list above is in no way exhaustive; it is a place to begin.  Plan to sit down with a counselor and devote time to this important decision.

Once the decision has been made and a field has been selected, job hunting will present some unique challenges. Positions in the areas listed above and others you have considered are not likely to require a J.D. You as an applicant will have to provide evidence that the legal training is a bonus for the position to be filled. This can and is done regularly, but it requires conviction, persuasive oral communication skills and knowledge of the prospective job opportunity.

A valuable resource for anyone considering non-traditional alternative is Non-Legal Careers for Lawyers in the Private Sector, by F. Utley and Gary Munneke.

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