20 Alternative Jobs For Law School Grads

Law school is a grind, and surviving it can take every last ounce of your energy. What’s more, upon graduation, even if you still want to be a lawyer, the job market has more JD holders than open positions, thus causing a tooth-and-nail fight for the few positions that are open. The days of a JD ensuring financial security in the legal field are over due to law firms, judges and the government downsizing to adjust to the economic climate. Fortunately, a law degree can bring forth many additional opportunities beyond just becoming a lawyer. If you’re open to a new career path you previously may not have considered, then peruse the list of the following jobs and see if one piques your interest. Note: median salaries (all but one are ranges) are from PayScale and apply to workers with 10-19 years of experience, so this is what you can achieve with a few years under your belt.

  1. Senior Risk Manager ($98,829 – $137,632)

    In order to become a risk manager, you should first accumulate experience in the legal or insurance industry working with claims. Once you secure a risk management position, you’ll be responsible for assessing the risk associated with legal liability, risk and property loss. With additional experience and the demonstration of proficiency at the position, you can achieve a senior-level position and thus earn more money.

  2. Lobbyist ($80,369 – $119,795)

    Needless to say, the best lobbyist jobs are highly sought after given their power and, of course, compensation. Employed by public interest groups, trade organizations and PR firms, they utilize their contacts with lawmakers to persuade them to push certain policies. Lobbyists must be well-versed on the issues and possess excellent communication skills, neither of which are problems for most aspiring lawyers.

  3. Legal Publishing ($79,354 – $117,916)

    Former aspiring lawyers can utilize their legal knowledge by entering the field of legal publishing, where they can contribute to newsletters, brochures, blogs, legal journals and other publications related to law. Graduates from law school are already proficient writers and researchers, so entering the field of publishing should come naturally.

  4. Political Campaign Manager ($73,698 – $111,910)

    The fields of law and politics go hand-in-hand, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many JD holders have pursued careers in politics, including as campaign managers, who coordinate the campaign and ensure its goals are reached. Despite having completed three rigorous years of law school, you’ll have to pay your dues before reaching the position, possibly by starting out as an entry-level coordinator.

  5. Senior Compliance Officer ($65,800 – $105,338)

    With state and federal regulations constantly changing, it can be a difficult task to ensure a business is operating within established standards. That’s why compliance officers are so valuable, especially given the fate of institutions such as Enron. Of course, each new field you enter requires its own unique knowledge and skills, which can be gained by researching the concerns of regulators and enrolling in courses in data processing.

  6. Executive Recruiter ($64,514 – $94,718)

    The duties of an executive recruiter include composing job descriptions, screening candidates, meeting with them and extending an offer to the one who’s most qualified. The entire process is overseen by the executive recruiter, who has accumulated experience in recruiting prior to landing the position.

  7. Procurement Manager ($64,114 – $96,241)

    A procurement manager purchases commodities, goods and services on behalf of the organization for which they work, enabling it to continue to operate efficiently. They must work within the limitations of a budget and determine the best quality and quantity of the objects they wish to purchase. Research and negotiation skills are a must, as finding a good deal often requires time and effort.

  8. Landman or Land Woman ($64,094 – $117,916)

    The best explanation of the duties of landmen and land women, who work in the oil and gas exploration industry, is provided by the American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL): “Company landmen negotiate deals and trades with other companies and individuals, draft contracts (and administer their compliance), acquire leases and ensure compliance with governmental regulations.”

  9. Labor Relations Specialist ($55,955 – $78,611)

    Serving as a liaison between employees and management, labor relations specialists focus on labor negotiations, contract interpretation and grievance procedures. More specifically, they’re required to research, draft and prepare for negotiations for collective bargaining agreements. Travel is frequently involved with this occupation, as specialists often work with different branches of their company.

  10. Public Policy Analyst ($54,100 – $78,344)

    Public policy analysts research and find solutions for the political issues about which they’re most passionate. Working for research firms, think tanks and interest groups, their objective is to craft viable policy solutions that’ll facilitate change in their area of interest. Typically, individuals with graduate level degrees, such as a JD, meet the qualifications for entering the field.

  11. Labor Union Business Representative ($53,386 – $79,363)

    Those committed to the union cause may become labor union business reps so they can promote membership, coordinate functions and deal with employers and the press. They negotiate with management on work-related matters such as wages and hours. Ultimately, they ensure the work environment is suitable for employees.

  12. Human Resources Management ($52,828 – $77,987)

    The evolution of human resources departments have brought forth the demand for even more individuals capable of hiring employees and implementing policies and procedures that enhance work environments. Excellent negotiation and communication skills are required for this position, which often can be achieved after experience is gained as a human resources generalist.

  13. Career Services Director ($51,956 – $72,695)

    A career in career services shouldn’t be a last resort, but a goal for someone who genuinely wants to help students find the jobs for which they’ve been striving. A director of career services has several years of experience in the department, and has cultivated relationships with employers and recruiters. They oversee the operation of the department, including programs that help students with resume composition and job interviews.

  14. Contract Administrator ($50,547 – $77,840)

    The duties of a contract administrator or manager are pretty self-explanatory. They conduct contract negotiations, ensuring the terms and conditions are acceptable to both parties and compliant to regulations. Their ultimate goal is to reduce risk and enhance operational performance. The areas of contract management include authoring and negotiation, baseline management, commitment management, communication management, contract visibility and awareness, documents management, and growth.

  15. Legal Office Administrator ($50,296 – $76,571)

    Although there are limited associate opportunities, you may be able to join a firm in another important position. After securing an entry level job as a recruiting assistant, for example, you can work your way up into a manager’s position, serving an essential role in the composition of the firm for which you work. Remember, a law firm is a business, and it requires several key components to make it operate.

  16. Law Librarian ($49,910 – $74,808)

    Law school grads who enjoyed the information gathering process of school can become law librarians. Their job is to maintain the library’s collection of legal-related texts and materials, assisting lawyers and law students with their research. The position requires a graduate degree, and none is more fitting than a JD.

  17. K-12 Teacher ($49,570)

    Some may cringe at the idea of becoming a teacher after completing three years of law school, but compared to the stressful work performed by lawyers, with their long, arduous hours, the environment can be refreshing. Teachers who actually enjoy interacting with kids find the job fulfilling, especially if they teach a subject in which they’re interested, such as government or economics. Private schools allow more flexibility with the classes they offer, so you could even teach a class on law.

  18. Trust Administrator ($44,219 – $63,710)

    After a trust is created, a trust administrator manages the assets, protecting that person’s property until they’re old enough to do it on their own. They act only according to the instruction provided in the trust document, and carry out duties such as paying taxes, record keeping and composing reports for the beneficiaries. Trust administrators must have integrity, as they serve someone else for an extended period of time.

  19. Political Fundraiser ($43,543 – $78,613)

    Money is the lifeblood of a successful political campaign, as evidenced by President Obama’s record-shattering numbers in 2008 when he raised almost $750 million. A capable political fundraiser knows how to network, establishing connections with potential donors. Using their excellent social skills and charisma, they must convince those donors that the cause is deserving of their support, a task that can present quite a challenge.

  20. Court Administrator ($43,158 – $66,129)

    An understanding of how the judicial process works is helpful for court administrators. Additionally, management skills are needed as they oversee the budget, hiring of staff and general day-to-day operations of the court. It’s another great way to become involved in the process of law without enduring the stress as a lawyer.

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