Most people enter law school with the intention of becoming lawyers after graduations, but a percentage of law school graduates have trouble finding jobs. Fortunately, there are other career paths that allow you to utilize your legal education while earning a good living. When attorney jobs are scarce, what are the alternatives for law school graduates? Some alternative career paths to consider if you have a law degree:
Policy analysts conduct research in order to determine policy effectiveness. They also help create policy and recommend changes based on research. Policy analysts often work for non-profit organizations and government institutions. Many policy analysts have advanced degrees, but requirements vary depending on the individual employer. According to PayScale.com, average policy analyst salaries range from $41,258 to $65,335.
Consulting is a broad field that offers countless opportunities. Those with legal degrees may offer a variety of consulting services, from taxes to real estate. Taking classes or obtaining an undergraduate degree specific to the consulting specialty and relevant internships can improve a law graduate’s chances of landing a consulting job. In addition to working for consulting firms, consultants may also work on a freelance or contract basis. Consulting salaries vary widely, based on area specialty and experience level.
Mediators, also called arbitrators or conciliators, work with individuals that choose to settle legal cases outside of court. Alternative dispute resolution is less formal than court hearings and meetings are confidential. Although there are no formal licensing requirements, many mediators are lawyers or judges. Mediators often work for state or local government, but may also be employed by legal service providers or corporations. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, median annual wages for mediators were $50,660 in 2008.
Program coordinators oversee the implementation of specific programs. Their responsibilities include setting and tracking program goals, assigning tasks, scheduling activities and ensuring compliance with regulations. Program coordinators work for non-profit organizations, colleges and universities, corporations, hospitals, and the government. Salary and job requirements vary greatly depending on industry and employer.
Contract specialists review contracts to ensure compliance with laws and policies. They also help company employees or clients understand contract terms. Other responsibilities include negotiating and evaluating bids, and overseeing contract modifications. Many contract specialists are employed by the federal government, but may also be employed by corporations and other institutions.
For more career options for law school graduates, read What Can You Do With a Law Degree?: A Lawyer’s Guide to Career Alternatives Inside, Outside & Around the Law