Most young attorneys choose to pursue traditional job opportunities practicing law — in firms, government agencies, or corporate legal departments. Incidentally, there are now more practice areas in law than ever. An attorney might focus their work in the areas of personal injury, family law, constitutional law, corporate law, employment law, or business law, to name a few. Tax law, international law, patent law, and immigration law are other examples of practice areas that might interest law school graduates.
However, now more than ever, a law graduate can pursue legal jobs related to but outside the practice of law. If you have a law degree, you can leverage your specialized education in other areas, such as compliance. Many of these jobs do not require licenses — they are “JD-preferred.
J.D. Preferred Jobs and Career Options
Your Juris Doctor can open the door to a variety of career options and jobs. Employers may value your legal education even though you have chosen not to take the bar examination to practice law.
Examples of J.D. Preferred jobs to explore include:
Human Resource Managers
Human resource managers with an education in employment law are valuable. HR managers must have good communication skills, which law students develop as they progress through law school. Individuals with law degrees understand labor laws and compliance requirements.
The median salary for HR managers, according to the BLS for 2020, is $121,220. The job outlook is growing faster than average.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Many individuals with law degrees received their undergraduate degrees in business or finance. The combination of law and business degrees gives the person an excellent background for accounting work. A J.D. can help businesses with tax-related matters, as well as issues related to finances.
The BLS states that the average annual salary for accountants in 2020 was $73,560. However, the highest ten percent of individuals earned more than $128,680 annually.
Insurance companies value individuals with a Juris Doctor because they understand insurance law, personal injury law, contract law, and other legal matters related to claims and insurance policies. A claims adjuster evaluates insurance claims to determine whether the insurance company is liable for the claim.
A person with a law degree may have experience interviewing witnesses. They are also detail-oriented and have strong research skills, both of which help with handling insurance claims.
In 2020, the average wage for insurance examiners, adjusters, and investigators was $68,270. However, the highest ten percent of individuals earned more than $103,610.
Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
Working for a corporation does not mean that you need to work in the legal department. CFOs are another J.D. preferred job that is perfect for individuals with law degrees who also completed an MBA program. A person with a law degree and finance experience can manage finance departments and accounting departments. They can also handle the administrative duties required of a CFO.
In 2020, financial managers earned an average of $134,180 per year. The annual outlook was much faster than average at a rate of 15% growth between 2019 and 2029.
Mediators and Arbitrators
Individuals with J.D.s are often talented negotiators. They can assist parties in reaching a mutually agreeable resolution to their dispute. Mediators and arbitrators act as neutral parties to resolve disputes.
A person with a law degree understands the areas of law applicable in various cases. This knowledge can help the person to be a more effective mediator or arbitrator compared to a non-lawyer.
For 2020, mediators and arbitrators earned an average of $66,130 per year. However, the top ten percent of mediators and arbitrators earned more than $131,210 annually.
Other J.D. Preferred Jobs That Do Not Require Passing a Bar Examination
In addition to the above jobs, there are many other careers that a person with a law degree might want to consider.
Other J.D. preferred careers that do not require a person to be admitted to the bar include:
- Legal content writer
- Legal website developer and SEO professional
- Compliance managers, auditors, and agents
- Legal marketing manager
- Law professor
- Financial advisor
- Business advisors and developers
- Patent examiner
- Legal consultant
If you hold a J.D., you might want to explore a job that utilizes your undergraduate degree. If you enjoyed the classes required to obtain an undergraduate degree, you might enjoy a career that combines that knowledge with your law degree.
You can also consider obtaining another degree in an unrelated area that interests you and compliments your legal education. You may find there are more possibilities for J.D. preferred jobs than you realized.