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.
Corporate legal staffs, like corporations themselves, vary in size from one attorney to a staff the size of AT&T's with approximately 250 lawyers.
The fifty largest corporations, like large law firms, have formalized recruitment programs, interview in the fall and seek students with excellent academic credentials. It is still, however, the exception rather than the rule for corporations to hire new law school graduates. Only the largest corporations have the capability to train new graduates; the others hire attorneys with several years of experience. During recent summers, our office sent questionnaires to over one thousand corporations to determine whether they hire new graduates. Questionnaire responses are filed in a binder available in the Placement Office.
Corporate attorneys are not only lawyers but also members of a business team. An in-house corporate lawyer must know the business of the corporation, the industry and government as well as the law. For the individuals interested in business, a corporate legal department offers excellent opportunities. For the individual interested in international law, the corporate legal department may also provide interesting opportunities. Many corporations, especially those in banking, computers, pharmaceuticals, food, and electronics are engaged in a large amount of international work.
In a law firm, clients seek counsel when they are in trouble or have a problem; lawyers help solve those problems. Corporate attorneys practice preventive law -- anticipating problems before they occur and making judgments as to the proper course of action.
For further information, refer to the pamphlet published by the American Bar Association Committee on Corporate Law Departments entitled "Law Practice in a Corporate Law Department" which is available in the Placement Office. Also check Survey of Corporate Law Departments, Top 200 Corporations in the U.S., and Directory of Corporate Counsel.
The Placement Office, along with other Washington area law schools, coordinates a Corporate Recruitment Day, held during the Fall. Attorneys from the participating corporations interview selected applicants from each of the area law schools on the campus of the George Washington University National Law Center.
Over the past decade the work of public accounting firms has increased in both scope and volume. Although the main business of accounting firms involves auditing, tax planning and management services, these organizations are also involved in the same work handled by private tax practitioners. This includes mergers and acquisitions, estate planning, foreign taxation and corporate reorganizations. In addition, many public accounting firms have diversified to provide a broad range of business planning and consulting services to a variety of clients.
Accounting firms prefer candidates with a background in accounting and most require CPA certification for partnership consideration.
Brochures from the "Big Eight" firms are on file in the Placement Office.
The trust departments of banks employ law graduates to advise on matters of probate, personal trusts, pension and profit sharing trusts and corporate trusts. Opportunities in banks, however, are not limited to the trust department. Other areas which employ attorneys include the consumer lending department, credit departments (commercial loans), and the personnel departments (employment discrimination and civil rights law). For more information, see the American Bank Directory and Careers in Banking.
Companies such as Lawyers Cooperative Publishing Company, West Publishing Company and Shepard's Citations employ law graduates to analyze court decisions and to write about the law. Job descriptions in these organizations include research, writing, editing, textbook preparation, and journalistic reporting. Job candidates should contact these companies directly to inquire about available opportunities.
Washington, D.C. is an association city; hundreds of trade, professional and recreational associates are headquartered here. These organizations are involved in activities ranging from policy studies to monitoring and influencing legislation.
Some of the larger associations have a small legal staff, others have one lawyer and still others do not maintain in-house legal counsel. Organizations with periodic openings for attorneys include the National Governor's Conference, League of Cities - Conference of Mayors, Inc. and the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Inc. Many of these associations employ individuals with legal training to do legislative and regulatory work. Others employ individuals with law degrees to perform administrative, managerial, and communications functions.
The best sources of information on associations are the National Trade and Professional Associations of the United States, Washington Information Directory, Washington V and Encyclopedia of Associations.
Consulting opportunities are available in business, government, and education, as well as the planning and research communities. Most require extensive experience in a relevant field in addition to a degree such as the J. D. Consulting opportunities for law graduates, however, are rarely brought to the attention of the Placement Office. For further information, see Who's Who in Consulting.