OU Law is committed to assisting students learn about all practice areas and facets of the law. It is essential during law school that students gain as much legal experience as possible – any kind of legal experience. One of the many benefits of interning with various legal employers and being involved in experiential learning opportunities is that students begin to learn about what areas of the law they are drawn to, what areas of the law they are not interested in, and how their particular passions can translate into a legal career.
A law degree is valuable, whether you decide to practice law or not. There are lawyers employed in almost every type of organization in both legal and non-legal positions.
In recent years, the number of recent law graduates taking jobs in which a J.D. is considered to be an advantage has grown. There are probably two reasons for this: a competitive job market in which J.D. grads have had trouble finding traditional legal jobs, and the long term desire of many recent law grads to go into alternative legal careers.
Typically, a J.D. advantage career is a position in which the employer is seeking an individual who has a J.D., but the position itself does not require admission to the bar or a law license. These are law-related positions in which knowledge of the law is part of the job, but the job itself does not require bar admission. In other words, your J.D. would provide a strong advantage in performing the duties of the job. If it would be unusual for a person holding a J.D. to work in the field, it would not generally fall into the J.D. advantage category
Given the uptick in J.D. advantage careers, what are some of the positions typically open to recent graduates? There are many possibilities. Here are just a few:
J.D. advantage careers, as you can see, can be found throughout the business sector, government, and the public interest arena. Once you start to look, you will find more possibilities.
Academia is a career path that interests many law students. Today, law faculty are now drawn from a broad pool, and include full-time law professors, clinical faculty, and adjunct professors who are full-time attorneys.
Additional careers include legal writing instructor, law librarian, as well as administrative posts, such as assistant dean or university counsel.
In-house lawyers serve the legal needs of the company they work for and, therefore, their work is structured around one client. Work varies depending on the nature of the business and the size of the legal team but often in-house lawyers are required to handle a variety of legal issues.
Judicial clerkships are short term (often one or two years) post-graduate positions in which recent graduates clerk for judges across the country. Judicial clerkships are tremendous opportunities to work closely with a judge and gain invaluable legal experience from a judge’s perspective. Judicial clerkships are very competitive and students are encouraged to actively seek such post-graduate opportunities during their 2L year. All students interested in applying for judicial clerkships should meet with an OCD counselor at the end of their 1L year or very beginning of their 2L year.
A career in public service can mean many things – but at its core it means the practice of law to further interests shared by the entire public. Government and public interest work is based on concepts of justice, fairness, and the advancement of the public good. This is a broad definition and one that encompasses working in government, non-profit organizations, and public interest law firms. For more information about Government & Public Interest careers, and how the CDO assists students interested in this career path, please view our Government & Public Interest Careers Handbook.
OU Law students and alumni work in law firms across the country, ranging in size from large, national firms, to mid-size regional firms, to small and solo practitioner firms. Private practice allows lawyers to specialize in almost any facet of the law, or, in the case of many small firms and solo practitioners, create a varied and all-encompassing practice based upon clients’ needs.