Considering a Career in Law
A career in the field of law can encompass many aspects of society such as business, government, human and civil rights, international relations, medicine, law enforcement, politics, entertainment, sports, and the arts, as well as jurisprudence and academia. If you have a passion for legal thought, strong oral and written communication skills, and a propensity for drawing thoughtful conclusions by analyzing fine details and complex information, then a law career may be for you. When contemplating a law degree, ask yourself: Why do you want to become a lawyer? How will earning a J.D. satisfy your career interests? How would membership in the legal profession serve your long-term goals? Plan to do some research in terms of what you can reasonably expect to get out of a law degree both academically and professionally.
Salaries and work hours vary widely across the profession. The median starting salary for an entry-level Associate at a private firm is $117,000. While a first-year corporate lawyer at a top law firm may currently earn between $155,000-$165,000 in the first year out of law school, he/she may also have to work twelve hours a day, six or seven days a week. Government lawyers and those who work in-house for a company or organization usually have more reasonable and predictable work schedules but earn a lower starting salary. Most of those interested in public interest law can expect a median starting salary of $50,000. Lawyers entering a solo practice earn varying amounts depending on their legal expertise and the region where they practice. In addition, many people trained as lawyers work in jobs where their legal training is of value but they are not actually practicing law.
 NALP (2018) – Employment for the Class of 2017—Selected Findings. Retrieved from www.nalp.org
 NALP (2015) – Salary Distribution Curves—Class of 2014. Retrieved from nalp.org
Realities of a Legal Career
An important step in making your decision is to learn about the market for new lawyers. Make it a priority to explore the various career options for using your legal training. Think about broad categories such as law, government, education, health care, and technology, and consider how the skills that you will receive from a legal education—such as research and writing, analysis and logical reasoning, knowledge of substantive law and legal procedures, and time management—will be utilized. Be sure to meet with your House Pre-Law Tutor(s) to consider non-legal careers for lawyers.