What Careers Can You Get with a Law Degree?
When most people think of careers that they can get with a law degree, the most popular suggestion is, of course, becoming a lawyer. Yet, most people don't realize that while passing the bar and becoming a licensed attorney is certainly an option (and generally the most common reason people attend law school), there are other careers that are perfect for law school graduates. In this article, we're exploring 15 alternative careers for law school graduates.
An EEOC investigator is an employee of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The investigator is tasked with looking into whether an employee had their rights violated in some way by their employer. This particular career would be well suited for any law school graduate who enjoyed employment law. An EEOC investigator is paid on the General Schedule (GS) government pay scale. The average annual salary is reported as $87,946.
Law school graduates would have multiple skills to help them successfully fulfill the position. For example, having successfully completed Legal Research and Writing I and II, a law school graduate would possess the ability to clearly write the required correspondence and reports related to their caseload. Having successfully completed employment law, law school graduates have both the research abilities as well as a good understanding of the federal laws that affect employers. Completion of civil law, torts, and criminal law gives graduates specific reasoning abilities as well as the ability to draft good investigational questions that could help them in their position as an EEOC investigator.
Law Firm Operations Manager
Law schools offer certain courses related to both starting and running a law firm. Law school graduates who do not wish to practice law may be interested in becoming a law firm operations manager. Also known as a law firm administrator, this position manages the operations, including administrative flow, of the law office. This position is available in law firms of every size as well as in every practice area. Generally, law firm operations managers who work for what is referred to as a BigLaw firm, regardless of whether it is a regional, national, or international firm, pay better than smaller law firms. The average annual salary of a law firm operations manager is reported on Payscale.com as $63,087. Courses from law school that may be helpful include law office management and contracts.
Some of the tasks performed by a law firm operations manager include overseeing budgeting and staffing, providing legal tech support, creating and nurturing positive working relationships with vendors, reviewing and optimizing workflow, and performing data analysis. They may also oversee e-billing. For law degree graduates, they may also be responsible for assisting with various types of legal research and litigation support.
For law school graduates who loved research and found that they were especially good at it, becoming a law librarian is an excellent choice. Law schools as well as most district courts have their own law library. A law librarian assists students, lawyers, other legal professionals, and even members of the public locate the proper books they need. According to Payscale.com, the average annual salary of a law librarian is around $64,441. Law school courses that may be helpful to become a law librarian include Legal Research and Writing I, Legal Research and Writing II, and Computer-Aided Legal Research (CALR). Management courses may also be beneficial.
Law librarians may also be responsible for ordering and cataloging new editions of physical books for legal research, assisting users with utilizing digital legal research sources, organizing sections or the entire law library, managing the library budget, and create and implement training courses for law library visitors.
Law school graduates are eligible to teach undergraduate programs in many areas. Depending on the requirements of a law school, they may also be able to become a law professor. However, many law schools require that their professors have a certain amount of law practice experience before they are eligible to teach. Law degree graduates may be qualified to teach at community colleges as well as four-year universities and certain master's degree programs. The average annual salary may depend on whether the position is tenured, work experience (including teaching experience), the number of courses taught, and the number of students in the course. Law school courses that may help a graduate become a college instructor include Legal Research and Writing I, Legal Research and Writing II, contracts, and ADR.
Duties of a college instructor include creating a syllabus and lesson plans for each course taught, providing office hours in which students are encouraged to visit with the instructor for additional help or guidance, lecturing, providing academic advisement, and establishing good relationships with businesses that may provide internships or open positions to students within the program. Teaching is a great way to directly use the knowledge gained by completing a law degree!
For law school graduates who enjoyed both research and writing and who may not be
interested in practicing law, the position of legal editor may be the perfect fit.
Major legal and business publications, including online resources designed specifically
for lawyers, require the specific skillset acquired by law school graduates. According
to Payscale.com, the average annual salary for a legal editor is $69,108. An additional
bonus of working as a legal editor is that many of the positions are part time or
fully remote, meaning that the legal editor can work from anywhere as long as they
have a stable internet connection. Law school courses that may be beneficial to someone
wanting to start a career as a legal editor include Legal Research and Writing I,
Legal Research and Writing II, Computer-Aided Legal Research (CALR), contracts, torts,
civil law, criminal law, ADR, and participation in writing contests or participation
in law review.
The duties of a legal editor will primarily depend on the publication, research, or publishing company that employs them. Some of the most common duties include reviewing and editing legal publications, legal textbooks, legal articles, and website content. They may also review and summarize court documents that will be published, write headlines, and perform legal research.
A mediator isn't required to have a law degree or a license to practice law. A mediator
is a third-party hired by lawyers or individuals to help parties come to an amicable
resolution to their disagreement. According to Payscale.com, the average salary of
a mediator is $51,000. However, it is possible that law degree graduates may immediately
command a higher salary because of their qualifications. It is important to note that
while a law degree isn't required to become a mediator, many jurisdictions may require
mediators to complete specific certified training courses. Beneficial law school courses
include Legal Research and Writing I, Legal Research and Writing II, civil law, torts,
Computer-Aided Legal Research (CALR), and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
Some of the duties of a mediator include facilitating communication between the conflicting parties, using problem solving skills to help the parties come to a reasonable resolution, and have excellent negotiation skills. Many mediators specialize in certain practice areas. They may also work for or contract with certain governmental agencies to provide mediation services.
Arbitration is like mediation in that an arbitrator is a third-party who has the goal of helping disputing parties resolve a disagreement. The main difference between arbitration and mediation is that arbitration decisions are legally binding whereas mediator decisions are not. Law degree graduates are very well suited for a career as an arbitrator since they are trained to research and apply the law. According to Payscale.com, the average salary of an arbitrator is $57,187. Much like mediation, it is important that law school graduates research whether arbitrators are required to undergo specific certification before being able to offer their services. Law school courses that benefit anyone wanting to pursue a career as an arbitrator include Legal Research and Writing I, Legal Research and Writing 2, civil law, torts, contracts, Computer-Aided Legal Research (CALR), and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
The duties of an arbitrator include researching, reviewing, and applying the laws related to the presented matter; managing discovery; reviewing evidence and testimony presented by each party; receiving and reviewing arguments from each side, whether written or oral; and determining how the matter will be resolved.
Insurance Agency Owner or Broker
In most jurisdictions, individuals with a degree in law qualify to open their own insurance agency or act as an insurance broker. Depending on the requirement of the state's agency that oversees insurance, the law school graduate may still be required to take the applicable licensing exam. Owning an insurance agency or acting as a broker may primarily be a commission-based opportunity. However, brokers working for an agency while gaining experience may also receive a salary. According to Payscale.com, the average annual salary of an insurance broker is $61,478. There are also bonuses, commissions, and profit-sharing options available from many agencies. Beneficial law school courses include law office management, contracts, torts, law of corporations, and civil law.
The duties of an insurance agency owner or broker may depend. For example, an insurance agency owner would still solicit and write new business, but they're also required to staff the office and manage the administrative staff. An insurance agent represents one insurance company. An insurance broker represents multiple insurance companies. A broker "shops around" between their represented insurance companies to find the best rates for their prospective or current clients. Their duties include soliciting and writing new business, visiting potential clients, and reviewing the insurance needs of clients and prospective clients to provide appropriate solutions.
Newspapers, magazines, and media outlets all use legal analysts to provide easy to
understand information about specific newsworthy events. They may also be hired by
businesses who want to minimize potential risk related to their business practices
or their compliance-related matters. Law school graduates are a great fit even if
they aren't licensed to practice law since they are educated in how to locate and
apply the law. According to Payscale.com, the average salary of a legal analyst is
$60,045. They may also be eligible for bonuses and profit sharing.
Some of the common duties of a legal analyst include conducting legal research, reviewing legal documents and evidence, providing summaries and likely outcomes related to specifically provided facts or scenarios, tracking and organizing documents, and procuring documents when necessary. Those interested in pursuing a career as a legal analyst may benefit from taking contracts, Legal Research and Writing I, Legal Research and Writing II, Computer-Aided Legal Research (CALR), civil law, torts, law of corporations, and criminal law. They may also benefit from participating in writing contests as well as law review.
Chief Executive Officer
Individuals with a law degree are wonderful candidates for companies seeking their next Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The goal of a CEO is to oversee an entire corporation as a whole. CEOs generally report to a Board of Directors. They may be hired for a specified amount of time as well as for the purpose of fulfilling specified goals. According to Payscale.com, the average salary of a CEO is $158,428. Bonuses, commission, and profit sharing may also be available depending on the corporation. Beneficial law school courses include law of corporations, contracts, tort law, law office management, Legal Research and Writing I, Legal Research and Writing II, Computer-Aided Legal Research (CALR), and tax law.
The duties of the CEO depend primarily on the corporation and its needs. However, common responsibilities include acting in a leadership capacity, making decisions related to policies and over-arching strategy as well as other key issues, informing the board of directors as to the company's health and goals, acting in the capacity as the primary spokesperson, creating and implementing operational policies, creating and implementing the corporation's strategic plan.
Chief Financial Officer
The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) position is deal for law degree graduates who are also interested in finances. Much like the position of CEO, a CFO makes decisions that impact the entire corporation. According to Payscale.com, the average salary of a CFO is $151,849. The CFO may also be eligible for bonuses as well as profit sharing. Beneficial law school courses include tax law, contracts, tort law, employment law, Legal Research and Writing I, Legal Research and Writing II, Computer-Aided Legal Research (CALR), law office management, and law of corporations.
The full list of duties of the CFO depend on the corporation being served. The most common duties include providing leadership during the development of both short and long-term financial goals; accurately analyze budgets, financial trends, and forecasts; create and implement a job cost system, act as the director of the finance and accounting departments; manage key internal and external relationships to better serve the financial needs of the corporation; provide appropriate recommendations to improve financial performance and business opportunities; and create and implement effective internal controls that meet specific compliance regulations at both the federal and state level.
Lawpreneur is a new word used to describe someone who creates a business in the legal industry. It is a combination of the words "law" and "entrepreneur." A lawpreneur may do several things, including create and offer legal technology solutions to the legal industry, assisting law offices in creating and implementing subscription models for their services, or create and provider other forms of assistance for those working in the legal industry. Because being a lawpreneur means starting one's own business, a law school graduate may have varying income, especially in the beginning of the business. According to Indeed.com, entrepreneurs have an average salary of $69,418. However, being that lawpreneurs have a specific market that is often willing to pay a premium price for solutions, many lawpreneurs are able to make more. Law school courses that may benefit anyone seeking to become a lawpreneur include law office management, courses involving technology such as e-discovery, civil law, tort law, criminal law, and contracts.
A lawpreneur has many duties. If they do not want to handle all of their administrative, accounting, and marketing needs, they must find the right support staff and professionals to assist in those key areas. They must also create one or more solutions that will serve the legal industry, attend networking events, book and complete demonstration appointments, and assist their clients in using the provided solutions.
Book or Literary Agent
Because of their understanding of contracts, intellectual property, and civil law, individuals with law degrees have the potential to become excellent book agents. Book agents may open their own agency or they may work with another agency. According to Ziprecruiter.com, the average salary of a book or literary agent is $59,532. Law school courses that may benefit a literary agent include civil law, torts, intellectual property, contracts, Legal Research and Writing I, Legal Research and Writing II, Computer-Aided Legal Research (CALR), and law office management.
The duties of a book or literary agent include reading query letters and samples sent by authors, determining whether the work is a good fit for the agency and if it would be a project that could be pitched to a publishing company, drafting and negotiating contracts with authors, assisting with the hiring of editing staff, assisting with creating the right cover art, determining the best marketing strategies for the book, negotiating with publishing houses, and booking events for the authors signed by the agency.
Law school graduates with an interest in finance may find fulfilling careers as financial advisors. Financial advisors are required to obtain specific licenses in order to offer certain products. Financial advisors may work for financial management companies, banks, or, with proper licensing, may work for themselves. They may work with individuals or corporations. According to Payscale.com, the average salary of a financial advisor is $59,516. They may also be eligible for bonuses. Those who perform exceptionally well may very well can earn in excess of $100,000. Beneficial law school courses include tax law, civil law, employment law, contracts, law of corporations, and law office management.
The duties of a financial advisor may vary depending on the products offered as well as whether their clients are corporations or individuals. However, some of the most common duties include meeting with clients to learn more about their desires so that an appropriate financial plan may be created, clearly explaining the various types of financial services offered, educate clients on their options as well as risks associated with each option, provide recommendations to clients that could help them meet their goals, monitor accounts and contact clients with updates, and research new investment opportunities that may benefit clients.
Management or Compliance Consultant
A management or compliance consultant is a great option for law degree graduates. Because of their understanding of how to research, analyze, and apply the law, they have a specific skillset that enables them to provide consulting services at both the management and compliance levels. According to Payscale.com, the average salary of a management consultant is $87,328. They may be able to earn bonuses, commission, and profit sharing depending on the corporation. Beneficial law school courses include law of corporations, contracts, Legal Research and Writing I, Legal Research and Writing II, Computer-Aided Legal Research (CALR), law office management, civil law, tort law, and employment law.
The typical duties of a management or compliance consultant include assessing management or compliance issues, gathering information about the existing issues, and determining how best to solve those issues. They may also be called upon to implement or oversee implementation of the recommendation solutions.
Get Your Law Degree at Pepperdine Caruso School of Law
Pepperdine Caruso Law strives to ensure its students are practice ready, but we also strive to ensure that our students have the skills they need to go where they want in life. In addition to offering the traditional requirements of a law school, we also provide opportunities for clinical work, externships, international study opportunities, and advocacy programs. To learn more about Pepperdine, our requirements, and our various options for law school attendance (including accelerated programs and joint degrees), contact our Office of Admissions or view our law degree programs.