'Law school has been described as a place for the accumulation of learning. First-year students bring some in; third-year students take none away. Hence it accumulates.'―Anonymous
Whether you're studying law or thinking about taking it up, it's important to know what your options are once you clear the bar exam. After getting a degree in law, you would want to become a lawyer (obviously!). And since most of us lesser mortals think all lawyers do is to go to the court and say, "Objection, your Honor", at regular intervals, that's probably what the layman thinks your options are as well. Unsurprisingly, there are far more alternatives than you may suspect. Of course, you can join a famous law firm and work your way up to partner, but that isn't the only way out. Here are a few other options.
Not all law students who graduate may want to go into legal practice, private or otherwise. Though becoming an attorney is the obvious choice, even some practicing attorneys may choose to switch midway, and others may prefer to stray off the beaten path from the very beginning. Following are some career options to consider after getting a law degree.
A working knowledge of any subject is an asset to a journalist, but knowledge of as vast a subject as law, is an added advantage. Investigative journalism is a choice open to you if you have a law degree, and the ability to write. You can also choose to decipher the legal jargon of government policy and break it down for the understanding of newspaper readers, which brings us to a second career option.
If you like the idea of working for the federal government, this is another option open to you. The US government employs law school graduates for full-time jobs as clerks, attorneys, and trial attorneys among others, for a number of its functioning departments. Internship programs are also an opening for law school students who'd like a taste of working at government jobs. If you are open to studying further, you could also apply to a number of Honors programs offered by government agencies―the C.I.A. Legal Honors Program and the Attorney General's Honors Program are two highly coveted opportunities.
When two parties are in a disagreement which they would prefer to settle out of court, they approach a mediator. This is a person who performs the function of a 'referee' between the two parties, and aids in bringing the subject under discussion to a logical end. Holding a law degree makes you eligible for this profession.
Sometimes, companies may suspect their own employees or clients that they deal with, of fraud, illegal conduct, or theft. In such cases, they hire a corporate investigator to prove or disprove their suspicions. Many times, a lawyer is required to make criminal background checks on the suspect under investigation. This is another option to consider besides law practice.
Many nonprofit organizations need legal advice in their formulations and running―it's no surprise therefore, that many such organizations are run by a person with a background in law. Lawyers are also trained to research and analyze the information they need, which is a useful skill in this line of work. Most lawyers have excellent communicative and persuasive skills, which is again, a boon when raising funds for nonprofit organizations.
Students of law have strong analytical, reasoning, and research skills―all of which are necessary in the practice of law. Whether you choose to become a criminal defense lawyer, a public prosecutor, or a federal attorney, it's important to know what alternatives you have, to a typical career in law. The options listed above are by no means exhaustive, and are but the tip of the iceberg, so explore all your choices. After all, love what you do and you'll never work a day in your life.