So You Made It Through Law School. Now What?
Law school is something many practicing attorneys look back on with fond memories of exhaustion, excessive consumption of coffee, and the fulfillment of a dream long planned for throughout their high school and undergraduate years. It’s no secret that law school has its fair share of challenges, and requires many hours of hard work, but the feeling of accomplishment far outweighs the effort. If you’re a recent graduate holding a law degree we offer our sincerest congratulations on reaching your goal!
If you came off of the high of completing your education only to realize (with slight panic) that you have NO idea what’s next, we understand and want to help. Here are some of your options and tips for helping you decide which move is the best for you to make as you start your career as an attorney.
Know Your Style.
We all have different ideas of what our careers in law will look like, and you’ll need to analyze your desires and preferences as you decide what comes next. Thinking through topics such as what type of hours you’d most enjoy (such as relaxed, billable hours or a higher paying position with stricter schedule), whether you’d like to be your own boss or work under an established practice, if you prefer all practice areas or would like a specialty, etc. By narrowing down what you want out of your career, it will be easier to make decisions about your next steps.
Regardless of your chosen priorities (such as those discussed above), you will need experience to back up your education. Up until now, your practice of law has been in a classroom or organized setting for educational opportunities, and in some cases, through an internship with a practicing attorney. However, you’ll need real-life court experience to make yourself marketable to clients and established lawyers alike. Consider going into a general practice where you can learn the ropes under a well-known lawyer and have an opportunity to practice all types of law. This will help you make an informed choice if and when you choose a specialty for your own practice or long-term career under another attorney in the same field.
Back to School?
While it might not be appealing to go back into the classroom after so many years spent seeking your law degree, opting for higher level education in a specialty program will give you valuable knowledge for daily law practice, and will put you head and shoulders above other law graduates when it comes to landing jobs with existing practices. Various colleges offer post-JD degree programs for those who have completed their JD degree and required state bar licensing. You can choose from many options, from SJD (Doctor of Judicial Science) to LLM (Master of Laws) and set yourself apart as you head out into the world of law.
Share the Knowledge.
If you don’t choose to practice law, you also have the choice of heading back into the classroom as the professor. Teaching in a college of law is a wonderful way to use your education for furthering legal justice and training the future generation of lawyers heading into the courtroom. After all, where would any of us be without our own law professors?
We hope this offers some encouragement and clarity for those of you who are looking forward to your law career. We look forward to welcoming you as a peer in the world of law!