A law degree is one of the most versatile graduate degrees offered in the U.S. As a law student, you will not be pigeonholed into a field or even a profession — instead, you will have ample opportunities to choose from, including jobs in both the public and private sector. That said, what are some of the best jobs for law students?
Working as a law student can be a great opportunity to test different interests and hopefully find the job of your dreams. In addition to helping you find a career path, having a job while in school can also a be a smart way to help your finances and cover your expenses — law school is very expensive, and students need all the help they can get.
The following guide will cover all the basics and tell you everything you need to know about the best jobs while going to law school.
Working in the non-profit or public interest field can be the ideal job for those interested in social good. If you are someone who finds personal fulfillment in advocating for vulnerable causes, this line of work is worth pursuing. Salaries for these types of jobs tend to be on the lower end of the pay scale but the satisfaction you get in helping someone can be priceless.
The non-profit field is very diverse and is almost guaranteed to offer something in your area of interest. Some examples include:
- Immigration law
- Civil rights
- Disability rights
- Labor law
Working at a corporate office can be a lucrative move, specially if you find a full-time position during the summer. You should keep in mind, however, that you will be working long hours and will almost spend almost all of your time at the office. Rest assured that your hard work will pay off when you make partner and can enjoy a more flexible schedule. Some fields in corporate law include the following:
- Intellectual property
- Healthcare law
- Real estate law
Working for the government is also another option for law students. If you want to be prosecuting individuals, you might consider working for the district attorney in your city. If you would rather be on the other side of the aisle, you could defend the accused and work for your public defender.
Those are not your only options, however, and you might also want to consider other opportunities — including work that is not directly related to litigation. Many law students work for politicians at both the state and federal level — as well as federal agencies such as the Summer Law Intern program at the DOJ — doing some kind of policy research.
Other Types of Employment
While having a job while in law school can be a good way to narrow your interests and jumpstart your career, there is nothing wrong with just working a job for petty cash and helping you cover your bills. In fact, some of the jobs listed above can be extremely time consuming, and there might be a better fit for your schedule. Consider the following list:
Working at a Movie Theatre
Working at a movie theatre can give you plenty of time to read and work on your other school assignments, specially if you are working the concessions stand. After all, you don’t want to neglect your studies and undermine your grades.
Working at a Library
Like working at a movie, manning a library desk can be another great way to make some cash while being able to study. In addition to an accommodating work environment, you will learn valuable skills such as citation and archival research, both of which are essential in a lawyer’s toolkit. If you can find a job at your law school’s library, you will also be able to keep up with the latest publications in the legal field.
Working as a Doorman
The benefits of working as a doorman are obvious — much like working at both a movie theater and library, you will be able to read from your desk. Working as a doorman has the added potential of sharpening your social skills, a valuable education that can benefit future lawyers since much of your daily interactions as a lawyer will consist of working with people directly and knowing how to handle them.
Cons of Working While in Law School
Working as a law student has its perks, but it also has some downsides. For example, you are at risk of losing valuable study time and therefore risk embarrassing yourself next time your professor cold calls you to discuss a case — law students hate the socratic method for a reason.
By working a job, you might also lose the opportunity to pursue other projects, such as being part of one of your school’s legal clinics or being an editor at a student journal. In their own right, these opportunities can be great for building your resume and professional network.
Everyone also just needs some free time, and working a job can interfere with that precious time off. While having some downtime seems like a luxury that law students can’t afford, making time to rest and decompress can help your studies just as much as pulling an all-nighter can — if you are not rested and relaxed, chances are you won’t be retaining much during lecture.
But no job is worth sacrificing your grades. Remember: some employers will ask for your class ranking before even deciding whether or not to grant you an interview. The reality is, however, that many students need to work if not for career advancement, then to offset the high costs of getting a law degree. The best you can do is find the most suitable job to fit your lifestyle and schedule.
Summer jobs are some of the most formative, educational experiences for law students. In fact, many summer internships often turn into full-time offers after graduation as long as you leave a good impression on your employer.
Talk to your school’s Careers Office for more information, including how to prepare your application materials. While corporate summer internships are very well compensated, those in the nonprofit — and sometimes government — industry tend to be unpaid, but there are grants both internal and external to your school that can give you a summer stipend.
If you choose to land a corporate job during the summer, you should consider investing some of that money towards the next school year — whether it be tuition, living expenses, or other miscellaneous costs. Part of keeping a job as a law student is knowing how to manage your money, including how to budget and stretch every cent.
Other Things to Keep In Mind
Many law schools prohibit their first-year students from working during their first year. The reasoning for this common policy is that law school — specially the first year — is notoriously difficult, and schools want their students to focus almost exclusively on their studies. As such, you might want to check-in with your counselor and revisit your school’s policies before looking for a job.
In the spring semester of your third year, as you near the end of your legal education, you will likely spend your time studying for the bar — the only thing standing between you and your ability to put your legal training to use. In order to best prepare for this grueling, intense exam, many students abtstain from working and take out what is called “bar loans” to cover their living expenses during those study months. Your school’s Financial Aid office can help you find low-interest loans if you are interested.
Best Jobs for Law Students – Where to Find a Job
With all that said, you are probably ready to find your next job — you will be glad to know finding one is relatively easy.
Your best resource at this stage is your law school’s career counselor. They can provide helpful information on fellowships and other post-graduation opportunities tailored to your own individual interests.
Law schools typically host career fairs in the spring where you can meet and network with potential employers. During the fall, law schools also usually host on-campus interviews (OCI) where legal employers interview interested applicants and offer them jobs if selected. These opportunities simplify the job-hunting process and bring employers directly to you.
Make sure to consult your school for additional resources. They likely have subscriptions to job sites and other websites where you can get an exclusive, first-pick chance to find jobs. Old employers from summer internships and such are also often willing to hire recent graduates, And, as always, you can always try an old school Google search.What Are Some of the Best Jobs for Law Students?