Ideas for J.D.-advantage careers in the public sector

By Hillary Mantis 

Some studies show that there has been an increase in law school applicants in recent years in part because more people are driven to try and find solutions to the issues in our country and the world.

So, as they graduate, many students gravitate towards public sector jobs. And even though not everyone is interested in politics, many find the idea of a career path outside of a law firm or private sector position appealing.

Many students find internships in the public sector while they are still in law school. But for those wanting to continue on that career path after law school, sometimes it’s hard to figure out where those jobs are.

Traditional legal jobs outside of private sector positions include working for the prosecutor’s office or for legal services, or working as an attorney in federal, state or local government.

But what about jobs for those looking to combine their law degree with other skills- in a “J.D. Advantage Career?” This popular category includes jobs where a J.D. is an advantage, as the title suggests.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

- Working in legislative positions on the hill, working in Congress, the Senate, as a lobbyist or in regulatory affairs.

- Working as a contract administrator, government relations officer, public policy director or a grassroots organizer.

- Finding a post graduate public interest related fellowship (check out organizations like Equal Justice Works, www.equaljusticeworks.org).

- Working in compliance (compliance is a growth area in both the public and private sectors these days).

- Working in education, particularly in the administration of a law school, in departments such as career services, admissions, development, and academic advising. Also, there are interesting positions in universities held by lawyers such as the Title IX coordinator, compliance officer or in the university counsel’s office.

As many law schools are holding spring on campus interview programs, you may find that more government agencies, especially on the state and local level, interview in the spring, and that there are opportunities available.

You might also find J.D.-advantage jobs on your career center’s job website. Your school’s career services might also subscribe to other job listing sites, such as PSJD (www.psjd.org), a clearinghouse for public interest job listings.  

Many career centers have a dedicated public interest career counselor, who may have great additional resources for you. They also can inform you of possible LRAP (Legal Repayment Assistance Programs) and government loan forgiveness programs that may possibly make it easier for you to pursue a career in the public sector.


Hillary Mantis works with law students, pre-law students and lawyers. She is the author of career books, including "Alternative Careers for Lawyers" and director of the pre-law advising program at Fordham University. You may reach her at altcareer@aol.com.


 

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