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Career Choices for Juris Doctor (J.D.) Degree Holders

Career News November 9, 2015

Those with an interest in practicing law must acquire the Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree first. The JD degree is a requirement for the bar examination of a state. Graduates can pursue a career in law, but there are other careers available.

Career Options for Individuals with a Juris Doctor (JD) Degree

Passage of a state bar exam by graduates of a JD program will open up several legal specialization related careers such as a corporate counselor, professional litigator, or civil defense attorney, among others. In this article, we take a look at some career paths available to legal professionals with a JD degree:

Business Careers

Among the most popular dual degree programs, a JD degree combined with a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degree, can enable students to gain the education required to excel in a corporate environment. A legal department is retained by many large companies to resolve business issues whenever they arise. Lawyers are employed by banking institutions to ensure that the organizations comply with financial regulations, both internationally and domestically. Entrepreneurs may use their legal education to save start-up capital and start their business enterprise.

Creative Careers

Students with a law degree can also avail many non-standard career choices. The extensive writing included in the coursework in a JD program can benefit prospective publishers, authors, journalists, and screen or television writers. Those with a writer career should gain a grasp of legal issues related to media law, copyright law, and intellectual property laws. Additionally, professionals in the creative field may be legally represented by program graduates who pass a state bar exam.

Educational Careers

The continual need for lawyers will prompt universities and colleges to go on offering academic programs in law. The next generation of professionals gains a grasp of the letter of the law, as well as the moral and ethical standards of the law, by legal educators. Academic hiring conferences are available through the Association of American Law Schools for experienced teachers and graduates who are passionate about research and wish to shape the future of the legal profession.

Legal Careers

Students enrolled in JD degree programs may choose between specialization in a single aspect of the law or acquisition of general legal education. Program graduates often seek entry-level careers within a private law firm, as public defenders, research lawyers, or junior associates. Years of simple assignments and long hours could lead to earning a highly competitive senior associate or partner status. Promotion of a lawyer depends largely on ethics and high working standards, in addition to references and contacts, and skills and knowledge.

Political Careers

Individuals with JD degrees or dual degrees in political science, international studies, or public policy may pursue careers in embassies, government agencies, and international organizations. Those seeking careers in politics may have to spend several years in an entry-level or probationary position before they can seek higher office. Professionals looking for career advancement in the political field may benefit from legal knowledge.

Public Service Careers

Having employees with legal expertise can prove especially useful for human services, social work organizations, and community associations. Professionals may leverage their awareness of the law to pursue jobs in state and federal government social agencies, employment assistance offices, city planning commissions, and family services organizations. Students interested in one of the following types of careers can benefit from earning specialized degrees in public health, public service, urban planning or political science.

Alternative Careers for Individuals with a Juris Doctor Degree

Joint Degree Programs

Dual degree programs are offered by many law schools, in collaboration with a JD program. Students interested in specializations within the law or professions other than the law can earn master’s or doctoral degrees devised to augment a JD program in Law. In some degree programs, including the Master of Laws (LL.M.), specific education is provided within a distinct area of the law. In others, education is offered in a completely different area, where professional studies may be enhanced or supported by a legal degree.

Schools offer some of the following Joint degree programs within the realm of law:

•Master of Arts (M.A.) in International Law – Coursework includes practices of different countries and cultures, and legal principles

•Master of Criminal Justice – Coursework includes a study of enforcement services, the court system, or correctional institutions

•Master of Laws (LL.M.) – Coursework includes a specialized field of law, such as finance, taxation, or environmental law

•Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) – Coursework is devised to lead to careers in family law mediation, juvenile representation, and child support enforcement

Schools also offer some dual degree programs with studies related to law, such as the following:

•Master of Arts (M.A.) in Political Science – Coursework is devised to lead to careers in political office, public policy, or international law

•Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) – Coursework is devised to impart leadership, management, and legal skills

•Master of Education (M.Ed.) – Coursework is devised to lead to careers in legal academics

•Master of Science (M.S.) in Labor Relations – Coursework is devised to impart a grasp of corporate law and human resource management

•Master of Sports Administration – Coursework is devised to impart skills for legal compliance, contract negotiation, and sports management

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