Some Law Graduates Cheerfully Choose Alternative Careers
Generally speaking, you need a law degree (plus a license) to practice law. However, having a law degree doesn't mean you must practice law. While most graduates of U.S.-based law schools enter the private practice of law, a notable number do not, opting for diverse career opportunities that may not even require a law degree or law license, but in which the broad-based education underlying the J.D. proves useful.
Meet four law school graduates who are doing something different with their legal education. They are in the minority, but these doctors of law are pursuing a diverse array of careers, including:
- financial planner,
- owner of a real estate investment business,
- campaign worker for presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama, and
- consultant for the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization.
The reasons for these mavericks' selections of nontraditional career paths are as varied as the positions they currently hold. The financial planner cited a weak job market as part of the reason he picked an alternative career. However, the three other law graduates suggested that they used law school itself as a stepping stone to work that was not centered around practicing law. One used his legal education to advance his real estate career. The other two graduates used their law degrees, respectively, as a springboard to enter politics and public policy, and to become a social entrepreneur who works on social justice issues.
Do these deviations indicate a trend moving away from traditional law careers? It's really too early to tell. Nevertheless, these four stories about career satisfaction and success suggest that there are many ways to use a J.D. in satisfying work; traditional law practice is just one option.
By Steve Imparl, guest blogger