Alternative careers with a jd

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For students and recent grads, figuring out what to do with a jd can feel like a daunting task — especially if you don’t know where to start. And while many law students may have no idea what they’re going to end up doing after graduation, having a post-grad plan of action can give you the confidence you need to put in the hard work and make it through those grueling last few years as a law student. This article provides practical advice for finding alternative careers with a jd.

A JD is a gateway to a plethora of career opportunities for people who choose to take the path less traveled. Law school graduates have pursued careers in fields as diverse as theoretical physics, business management, and japanese language education, to name a few. Curious about the possibilities? Keep reading below for four different JD-dependent careers that didn’t make my top ten list of exciting careers with a JD.

JD stands for Juris Doctor, and it’s a law degree that’s earned at the graduate level. A JD is required to become a practicing attorney in the United States, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use your degree in other ways.

Here are some alternative careers with a JD:

  1. Legal Assistant

Working as a legal assistant will allow you to put your legal knowledge and skills to work while still working in an office setting. You’ll be able to help attorneys prepare cases and write contracts and briefs, while also gaining experience working on legal documents yourself, which will help prepare you for law school.

  1. Paralegal

A paralegal works with lawyers to assist them with various aspects of their jobs, including providing research and evidence for cases, drafting pleadings and motions for court proceedings, interviewing witnesses who may help prove the client’s case, preparing exhibits for trial or deposition testimony (such as photographs), assisting with discovery requests from opposing parties (such as documents), organizing depositions (when people testify under oath), preparing exhibits for depositions (such as photos), researching cases for trial preparation purposes.

Alternative jd careers


If you’re looking to start a legal career, there are many undergraduate and graduate programs that can prepare you for a career as an attorney. If you’re interested in becoming a lawyer, consider the following resources:

  • Law School Toolbox: A resource that connects students with law schools across the U.S., where they can find information about admission requirements and deadlines for programs
  • LSAC: The Law School Admissions Council offers guidance on how to apply to law school, as well as lists of accredited institutions
  • National Association for Law Placement (NALP): A nonprofit association that collects statistics on employment outcomes for new attorneys


The federal government is one of the most common employers for JD graduates. Opportunities exist in many areas, including:

  • Law enforcement
  • The judicial branch (i.e., U.S. Attorneys’ Offices)
  • Administrative law (the office of the solicitor general)
  • Legislative support services

public defender

A public defender is an attorney who provides legal representation to individuals accused of criminal offenses who cannot afford to hire their own lawyers. The responsibility of these lawyers is to ensure that their clients are fairly represented in court, and they work within the rules of law and practice established by each jurisdiction.

A public defender’s salary will vary depending on where they work and the amount of experience they have under their belt; however, it’s important to note that this field tends toward lower salaries than other careers with a JD because most people who take these positions are doing so because they find it personally fulfilling—and not as a means for financial gain alone. According to PayScale data from 2018, public defenders can expect an average base salary between $51k-$97k annually (depending on location), along with additional benefits like health insurance and paid vacation time (varies by employer).

The job description for this position typically involves:

  • Representing clients at their arraignment hearings (often held within 24 hours after arrest) before taking them before a judge for further proceedings;
  • Working closely with prosecutors regarding plea deals may be reached in order for charges against defendants not exceed certain limits set by state law;
  • Appealing court rulings if necessary (this can include seeking higher courts’ review or reaching out directly through letters written directly).


A lobbyist is an individual who tries to influence legislation on behalf of a group or special interest. A lobbyist can be registered with the federal government and/or state government, and must abide by a set of rules and regulations that ensure transparency in how they do business. This includes disclosing their clients, reporting both gifts and payments made to officials by lobbyists, documenting their communications with public officials about legislative issues, and registering as required under the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA).

If you want to become a lobbyist, you’ll need at least one year of experience in politics or public policy before getting started.


The academic path is a career option after law school. It can be pursued through the J.D., which is required for those who want to teach law at the university level. Professors can choose to work at a variety of colleges and universities, ranging from small liberal arts schools to large research institutions. The difficulty of this job depends on the university’s reputation and budget, but most professors have set teaching hours and don’t have much time for outside work during the week or year-round schedule (unless they take on an adjunct position).


After earning your JD, you can find a job in business without an MBA. The majority of people who work in the business sector need a bachelor’s degree or higher, so it stands to reason that business-related jobs would be open to those with only a JD.

The most common career paths for lawyers include banking and finance, consulting, government and politics, law enforcement and legal services. These are all common jobs for JD graduates because they do not require an advanced degree or training beyond what is provided through law school itself.

Other career choices include insurance salesperson (which has been rising steadily since 2011), paralegal (another growing field) and real estate agent (often used as an entry point into law). The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists dozens more options based on your interests, location and experience level.

While there isn’t one surefire way to get into these fields without an MBA or other advanced degree after graduation from law school (or even during), it’s important for new attorneys to establish themselves as trustworthy community members by contributing volunteer time before seeking out paid positions within the local community where you might eventually work full time once established there professionally.”

nonprofit sector

Some people with a J.D. choose not to go into private practice as an associate for a firm. Instead, they pursue careers with the government, in the nonprofit sector, or in academia. If you’re interested in one of these career options but don’t know where to start, we’ve got some tips to help get you started:

  • Government

You can find information on federal and state jobs at and state job boards such as NYS Department of Civil Service (NYSDOCS). You can also search for positions through various agencies directly—for example, the Environmental Protection Agency has an online portal where you can apply for positions within their agency (and other federal agencies).

The best way to get started would be by identifying which agency interests you most and then researching what kinds of roles are available there; once that happens it will be easy enough for anyone who has done this kind of research before!

Some people with a J.D. choose not to go into private practice as an associate for a firm. Instead, they pursue careers with the government, in the nonprofit sector, or in academia.

Some people with a J.D. choose not to go into private practice as an associate for a firm. Instead, they pursue careers with the government, in the nonprofit sector, or in academia.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to these career paths, as well as to private practice itself. Your choice of career path should be based on your interests and goals—not just on what is most convenient or popular at the moment!

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