10 Non-Legal Careers You Can Pursue with a Law Degree
When most people think about getting a law degree, they think about becoming a lawyer. However, there is also a plethora of other careers you can pursue with a J.D in hand.
Law school graduates may become politicians, entrepreneurs, real estate agents, human resource managers, CEOs, and so much more. Legal knowledge is widely applicable across many industries. Using the expertise you have gained in law school can be a significant advantage in many careers.
In fact, many job descriptions will articulate that a J.D. is preferred or an advantage for the role. In these circumstances, those with a J.D. are typically offered a higher salary for the role because they are more desirable. Additionally, for these roles, it is not required for law school graduates to pass the bar exam.
In this piece, we share some non-legal career options for those who have recently obtained a J.D., or those who are considering going to law school. Be sure to read our previous blog post for insight regarding nine legal careers you can pursue with a law degree.
If you read the background of many politicians, you’ll find a law degree in their history. It is not uncommon for law school graduates to become legislators or even presidents. Although this is certainly not the only path to political office, it can be advantageous to have some legal background.
2) Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
CPAs ensure that all financial records are accurate and that taxes are prepared precisely and submitted on time. It is also important for CPAs to help businesses find ways to reduce costs, offering recommendations on ways to increase revenue or improve their profit margins. They can work on their own or within a large institution.
A legal degree can be largely beneficial in this role because CPAs must know and understand state laws. Further, it can be advantageous to have an undergraduate degree in finance if you want to pursue this career.
3) Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
Chief Financial Officer is a critical role for any company. This person is responsible for calculating the financial projections of the company. Additionally, they provide general accounting for the organization and work closely with the CEO.
Many CFOs have either a JD, an MBA, or both. The median salary of a CFO is $134,180 in the U.S.
4) Insurance Adjuster
Insurance adjusters may work within the claim departments of insurance companies. Individuals in this role are responsible for determining if the company should pay (and how much) for each insurance claim.
Legal background is helpful because a large part of the job is understanding and determining liability.
5) Human Resource (HR) Manager
The median salary of a Human Resource Manager is $121,220 but the top 10% of individuals earn $208,000. This position is growing at a rate of 9%, providing a strong outlook for those who are interested in this career.
HR Managers ensure the proper functioning of the internal network of a company including proper employee relations. HR Managers should be detail-oriented, organized, and strong communicators, which are all skills which can be fostered during law school.
Further, as HR Managers enforce the legal compliance directives of a company, a legal background can be incredibly helpful. HR Managers must ensure that laws are followed for employee recruiting, the interviewing of candidates, and all aspects of the hiring and firing processes.
Those with a law degree can also be the perfect candidates to become entrepreneurs. J.D graduates are ambitious, driven, and have the perfect legal background to understand how to navigate the complexities of starting one’s own business.
7) Regional Planner
Regional planners help to develop areas, creating communities, revitalizing communities, and facilitating the growth of different divisions. Although this role certainly requires explicit expertise in community planning, a legal background can help dramatically as well. Regional Planners must understand local laws, state laws, and federal laws in order to conduct their job correctly.
8) Real Estate Broker
Real Estate Brokers must understand real estate law. This career is similarly high-paced to that of an attorney, and can be the perfect outlet within which to utilize legal expertise. Real estate agents also benefit from a legal background.
Some law schools offer a specific concentration in real estate law which would be the perfect segue into this kind of career.
9) Mediator- Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
Mediators can work in the private sector or within a court system. Mediators help two or more parties reach an amicable outcome by guiding negotiation on an issue. Mediators can easily make over $100,000 annually.
Having a legal background in this profession can be extremely beneficial as there are often many legal complexities within negotiations.
10) Higher Education Administrator
Many individuals with a law degree end up working in higher education. You can become a law professor, work in a different faculty position, or become an administrator. J.D. graduates may serve as the Dean of a college, Director of Admissions, Director of Career Services, Director of Alumni Affairs, or even as the President of the university.
Getting a J.D. doesn’t lock you into a career in law. There are so many options one can explore with a J.D. in hand. If you’re not sure law is the right career path for you, take some time to see what other careers are out there for which a J.D. is an advantage or preferred.