Attention: open in a new window. PrintE-mail

Your Career Options

Within a traditional legal career path, there are any number of specialty practice areas that may resonate with your interests and training. Alternative legal careers can encompass numerous positions that allow one to utilize their legal training in a nontraditional way. Such positions may be found in the public interest and nonprofit, academic,  or government venues, to name but a few. Finally, many former attorneys  ultimately choose  to seek work outside the legal profession, while  continuing  to find their legal training to be a great asset.

Click on the following to jump to the section that interests you:

Traditional Legal Practice
: General Info and Resources | Specialty Practice Areas | Spotlight on Careers

Alternative Legal Careers
: General Info and Resources | Public Interest/Public Service | Judicial Clerkships | Government | Other Things to Consider | Spotlight on Careers

Non-Legal Careers
: General Info and Resources | Career Alternatives | Spotlight on Careers

    Traditional Legal Practice


    General info and Resources

    Making a Move - Switching Practice Areas (PDF)
    Learn about various practice areas through these helpful resources.


    Specialty Practice Areas



    Business Lawyer's Handbook, 1992
    Clifford R. Ennico
    This book is designed to give law students and recent graduates an introduction to the workaday world of the lawyer who does not litigate for a living. It discusses in detail the principal jobs of the transactional lawyer as well as their ethical responsibilities. It also discusses the traditional career path of the business lawyer and the special roles they take on.

    Criminal Law

    Considering a Career in Criminal Law? Here are Ten Helpful Tips
    Read Article 


    Entertainment Law Careers, 1998
    William D. Henslee: This updated edition addresses the substantive areas of the law which encompass entertainment law. There are several helpful appendices in the back of the book such as a glossary of industry terms, trade publications, industry organizations and a list of entertainment firms throughout the country.


    Careers in Natural Resources and Environmental Law, 1987
    Percy R. Luney, Jr.
    "Natural resources law attorneys and environmental law attorneys-who are they? What do they do? How do they obtain their jobs? What advise do they have for law students who want to specialize in these areas or for attorneys considering a career change into these areas? These questions are explored in this description of natural resources law and environmental law practices...Natural resources law and environmental law are specialized areas that require scientific expertise as well as good legal skills and knowledge.... This book introduces natural resources law and environmental law through the experience and advice of practitioners in these areas."

    Directory of National Environmental Organizations, U.S. Environmental Directories, 1997

    Directory of Environmental Attorneys, Aspen Law & Business

    Environmental Career Opportunities, The Brubach Corporation
    Glen Echo, MD
    This biweekly publication contains a variety of environmentally-related jobs.

    Environmental Law Careers Directory, 2001
    Ecology Law Quarterly
    This directory lists more than 250 public interest organizations, private law firms and government offices to assist law students in conducting a job search in the area of environmental law.

    Guide to State Environmental Programs, 1994
    Deborah Hitchcock Jessup
    This guide includes state specific information on the "how's, what's, and wherefore's of state regulatory programs." It also devotes a section to the federal laws and regulations that underlie many of the state programs.

    The New Complete Guide to Environmental Careers, 1993
    The CEIP Fund
    "...Presents essential information needed to plan any career search: salary levels, volunteer and internship opportunities, and entry requirements. But unlike other career guides, it gives a complete overview of the field, as well as examples of actual projects, jobs, and opportunities that are available...."


    Family Law Careers, 1998
    Sara Vlajcic
    This book provides practical nuts and bolts information on choosing and following a career path in the area of family law.


    In-House Career Paths in the Financial Sector
    Read Article

    American Bar Association (ABA):

    American Corporate Counsel Association (ACCA):
    This is perhaps the best single resource for lawyers who would like to move in-house. It includes CLE materials, introductions to issues facing in-house lawyers and a comprehensive job board.

    America's Greatest Places to Work with a Law Degree by Kimm Alayne Walton
    Chapter 8 deals exclusively with in-house opportunities, providing an excellent framework for deciding whether legal department work is right for you and identifying top in-house legal departments.

    Corporate Counsel Magazine (published bi-monthly by American Lawyer Media) CCM can be found online at

    Directory of Corporate Counsel.  This two-volume resource of corporate legal departments worldwide provides geographic location (indexed), the lawyer's name, and corporate name.

    In-House Blog  A comprehensive blog focused on the in-house market. publishes "In House Weekly," a newsletter devoted to in-house legal issues.

    Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) – MCCA is focused both on issues specific to minority attorneys and issues common to all in-house counsel. MCCA hosts events that are excellent for networking and provides a comprehensive job board.

    The National Law Journal (weekly newspaper).  This is a great periodical to learn about in-house attorneys and their educational and professional backgrounds. Website:

    View from the Top: Law Firm Leaders Unlock the Secrets of a Successful Legal Career by Ron Hogan. Although not focused on in-house opportunities, this book serves as a valuable guide for managing your career.


    Career Strategies for International LL.M. Students, 1999 National Association for Law Placement
    This 16-page booklet helps explain the process of a job search for international LL.M. Students, with sections on how to use the career services office, writing cover letters and resumes and networking, as well as an overview of the U.S. legal market, suggestions on whether to take a bar exam, and a summary of immigration regulations.

    Careers in International Law, 1993
    Edited by Mark W. Janis, American Bar Association
    Legal practitioners discuss the profession of international law and the variety of career opportunities available in both the private and public sectors.

    International Career Employment Weekly
    Carlyle Corporation
    This weekly publication describes itself as the only comprehensive source of information on international career positions.

    International Opportunities Resource Guide, 1999
    National Association for Law Placement
    Divided into five substantive areas, this guide includes an introduction to the nature of the practice area; profiles of attorneys, professors and students with experience in international practice; a bibliography of print resources, including books, journal articles and a list of publishers; a list of Internet resources; and selected articles on international topics from recent NALP publications. This guide also addresses what attorneys find most satisfying about their positions as well as the advice they would give to students in pursuing a similar career.

    Health Care

    Careers in Health Care Law, 1983
    National Health Lawyers Association: This booklet information on what health law is and how to break-in to the field. See also this bar association's website:


    Careers in Labor Law, 1985
    Ellen Wayne
    This book contains information regarding the practice of labor law, particularly educational and career advice from current practicing labor lawyers.


    Careers in Civil Litigation, 1990
    Monica Bay
    This book is an introduction to the practice of civil litigation. "It provides practical information on the realities of civil litigation practice as well as tips on how to secure the position of your choice."

    National Directory of Prosecuting Attorneys, National District Attorney's Association, 2001.

    To Be a Trial Lawyer, 1994
    F. Lee Bailey
    "Drawing on almost thirty years of trial experience, Mr. Bailey shows aspiring attorneys, law students, and young lawyers how to prepare for and survive [as a trial lawyer]. He...explains how to effectively deal with judges, work with juries, manage a trial, cross-examine witnesses, [and] argue an appeal..."


    Directory of Entertainment and Sports Attorneys, Aspen Law & Business

    Careers in Sports Law, 1990
    Kenneth L. Shropshire, Esq.
    The information presented in this book provides law students interested in sports law with sufficient information to assist in making academic and career decisions easier. A majority of the sections in the book are based on interviews with lawyers who in various capacities practice sports law.

    Small and Solo Practices

    The Business of Practicing Law: The Work Lives of Solo and Small Firm Attorneys, 1996
    Carroll Seron

    Choosing Small, Choosing Smart: Job Search Strategies for Lawyers in the Small Firm

    Market, 2001
    Donna Gerson
    This book explores the ins and outs of working in a small firm environment. It provides information about understanding the small firm market, approaching firms effectively, negotiating salary and benefits, and succeeding as a small firm lawyer.

    How to Start & Build a Law Practice, 1999, 4th Edition
    Jay G. Foonberg
    This book offers the reader the basics of how to start and build a law practice. Several chapters address some timely topics such as office technology and the current "explosion in the number of lawyers" both of which have affected the way a practice is started and developed.  The chapters in the book are not arranged in any particular fashion.  Each chapter covers a very specific aspect of private practice and can stand alone. According to the author this was done intentionally, so that a newly admitted lawyer could easily find the general information needed.

    Running a Law Practice on a Shoestring, 1997
    Theda C. Snyder

    Being a Contract Lawyer

    The Complete Guide to Contract Lawyering: What Every Lawyer and Law Firm Needs to Know about Temporary Legal Services, 2nd Edition, 1999
    Deborah Arron & Deborah Guyol. 
    Increasingly, firms are hiring more attorneys on a temporary or contract basis. This book provides an overview of the world of contract work taken from real experiences. Contract lawyering can be useful in getting experience and as an assessment tool in the process of a job search.

    Electronic Resources

    The Occupational Outlook Handbook, produced by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, located at provides a great research tool for people seeking insight into different careers, including legal careers.

    Occupational Information Network, O*net OnLine,

    JobStar, Career from the Wall Street Journal,

    Michigan Occupational Reports for Exploration,


    Spotlight on Careers

    Andrew DeNatale
    Pamela Mann
    Laural Boone

    Back to Top

    Alternative Legal Careers

    General info and Resources

    Contract Work: Is it Right for You? (PDF)
    Learn about various options outside of the traditional law firm practice but related to the law through these helpful resources.

    A Roadmap from Practice to Career Development (PDF)

    Considerations for Embarking on Non-Practicing Roles at Law Schools and Universities (PDF)

    Public Interest / Public Service

    Federal Careers for Attorneys, 1991, Federal Reports Inc.
    This is a guide "...designed as a comprehensive directory for both newly-admitted and experienced attorneys interested in working for one of the three branches of the U.S. Government. It includes detailed descriptions of the legal work and application requirements of over 300 federal legal offices, and cites the location of over 1,400 regional/field offices."

    Lawful Pursuit: Careers in Public Interest Law, 1999
    Ronald W. Fox
    A book which discusses types of settings in which to practice public interest law, setting your own career goals, exploring your options, analyzing your skills evaluating the market and searching for a satisfying position.

    Now Hiring: Government Jobs for Lawyers, 1997-1998
    The introduction provides brief descriptions on everything from application procedures to hiring policies and benefits. The remainder of the book gives detailed information on the individual agencies within the federal government. It also identifies which agencies have summer legal positions.

    Public Interest Job Search Guide, 2000-2001
    Harvard Law School
    This guide contains over 800 listings of public interest and public sector employers including hiring contacts and descriptions of organizations. The guide also has general job search advice along with a section on available fellowships.

    Public Service and International Law: A Guide to Professional Opportunities in the United States and Abroad, 1998
    Yale Law School
    Recognizing that the practice of law is a global enterprise, this guide provides valuable information about legal jobs in the public sector around the world. Information regarding U.S. government, intergovernmental and non-profit organizational employment positions are described, as well as fellowship opportunities.

    The Public Service Employer Directory, 1998-1999
    Legal Support Systems, Inc.
    This directory contains over 200 public interest employers and includes a description of the organization, hiring contacts, number of anticipated openings and statistics on the organization.

    Yale Law School Public Service Careers Resource Manual, 1999-2000
    Yale Law School
    The purpose of this manual is to inform law students of opportunities available to use legal education in the arena of public service. Tips on resumes, cover letters, employers, mentors, split summer firms and resources are also included.


    Judicial Clerkships

    Almanac of the Federal Judiciary, Aspen Law & Business

    BNA's Directory of State and Federal Courts, Judges and Clerks, 2001

    Chambers Handbook for Judges' Law Clerks and Secretaries, 1994, Federal Judicial

    Center Federal and State Judicial Clerkship Directory, 2000, National Association of Law Placement

    The Federal Judiciary Homepage Website,

    Federal Law Clerk Information System Website,

    Judicial Clerkship Opportunities, 1999, National Association for Law Placement

    The Third Branch, a Newsletter of the Federal Courts.

    U.S. Court of Federal Claims: A Deskbook for Practitioners, 1998, Fourth Edition

    Vermont Law School Guide to State Judicial Clerkship Procedures, 2002, Vermont Law School

    Want's Federal-State Court Directory , 2001 and State Court & County Courthouses

    Directory, Want Publishing




    The offices referenced below are some key possibilities for those individuals transitioning from law firm life to government practice:

    Office of the United States Attorney

    Federal Clerkships

    Department of Justice

    State of New York Attorney General's Office

    Office of the District Attorney

    Comptroller State of New York

    New York State Child & Family Services

    State of New York Department of Education

    State of New York Department of Labor

    Workers' Compensation Commission

    Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

    National Labor Relations Board

    State of New York Banking Department

    State of New York Consumer Education & Advocacy

    State of New York Office of Court Administration

    State of New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority

    Office of the City Attorney, Law Department

    New York City Human Resources Administration

    Legal Aide (various boroughs)


    Other Things to Consider

    Go to New York / Government Offices. You can also look under "Government – City, Village, Township"; "Government – County & Parish"; "Government – United States"

    Also, remember your local job board and chat rooms. For instance, features a "Job Message Board: Government" which may be instrumental.

    Don't overlook the career corner at any bookstore. For those interested in government jobs requiring complex applications, some folks have found interesting Real KSA's: Knowledge Skills & Abilities for Government Jobs by Anne McKinney (as well as its sister book "Government Job Applications and Federal Resumes").

    Transition from Government into Private Sector
    First and foremost, government attorneys should look where other colleagues have gone before them. In other words, spend some time exploring where your former colleagues, who have left government practice for private practice, have gone and reconnect with them, if possible.

    Second, to the extent your current government office is working directly with anumber of law firms, reach out to those firms. In other words, do not overlook the obvious. Whether in a legal services organization or government agency, tell your private firm contacts of your interest and ask them for assistance and/or guidance about private opportunities.

    Third, join your local Bar Association or community groups that attract a diverse array of practitioners from both government and private practice. As referenced by Villanova University's Career Transition forum: "Branch out by practice area, diversity, or other facet of your background. The more private attorneys you add to your professional network, the better prepared you will be for your private sector job search."


    Do not overlook your school's alumni magazine, which very often features the bios of alumni and their career moves from government to private practice. These bios are instrumental in your own navigation of the legal landscape.

    Review websites featuring such topics. The National Law Journal (online) featured a relevant article under its "Trading Places" section (August 13, 2007), which spoke at length about government attorneys' transition to white collar private practice.

    Don't forget bookstores! The Insider's Guide to Law Firms by Francis Walsh, Sheila V. Malkani, and Jeanne Bergman is a great insight into New York City law firms, their practices, associates, clients, deals and hiring practices. This book provides keen insight into those firm environments that may be more receptive to a previously government-employed attorney. Remember that, when transitioning to private practice, one must know the value of their current practice area. For instance, government lawyers focusing on litigation, immigration, L&E, environment, white collar, and health care seem to transfer well into private practice. This book will help you hone in on those firms that do such work.


    Spotlight on Careers

    Jessica Carter
    Ron Shapiro
    J. Machelle Sweeting
    Jason Trujillo

    Back to Top




    Non-Legal Careers

    General info and Resources

    Learn about what you can do with your law degree outside of the legal practice through these helpful resources.


    Career Alternatives

    Alternative Careers for Lawyers, 1997
    Hillary Mantis. Princeton Review: This book guides attorneys step-by-step through the stages of a career transition.

    Beyond L.A. Law: Stories of People Who've Done Fascinating Things with a Law Degree, 1997
    National Association for Law Placement: Features 47 profiles of attorneys reflecting on their dreams and goals. Those featured are a variety of traditional and alternative career attorneys that have shared their stories of success.

    Career Transitions: A Workbook for Lawyers, 1989
    Celia Paul Associations.

    Careers in Sports Law, 1990
    Kenneth L. Shropshire, Esq.
    The information presented in this book provides law students interested in sports law with sufficient information to assist in making academic and career decisions easier. A majority of the sections in the book are based on interviews with lawyers who in various capacities practice sports law.

    Do What you Love, The Money Will Follow, 1987
    Marsha Sinetar.

    Judgment Reversed: Alternative Careers for Lawyers, 1997
    Jeffrey Strausser, Barrons Educational Series.

    The Lawyer's Career Change Handbook: More Than 300 Things You Can Do With a Law Degree, 1998
    Hindi Greenberg
    "Hindi Greenberg -- founder and president of Lawyers in Transition -- has written an indispensable quidebook for those in that position. Chock full of helpful advice, exercises, listings of resources and real-life stories, The Lawyer's Career Change Handbook provides all the tools needed to help the unsatisfied many who are either considering a new career or actively pursuing one."

    Lawyers as Journalists (PDF)

    Lawyers in Transition: Planning a Life in the Law, 1988
    Mark Byers, Don Samuelson, & Gordon Williamson.

    Nonlegal Careers for Lawyers, Third Edition, 1994
    William D. Henslee & Gary A. Munneke.

    Running From the Law: Why Good Lawyers are Getting out of the Legal Profession, 1991
    Deborah L. Arron.
    After ten years of successfully practicing law, the author chose to give it all up. Based on her own dissatisfaction with the profession, she began to research and explore why an increasing amount of attorneys seem to be getting out of the legal system. "Running from the Law is primarily an anthology of the insights and histories of courageous professionals whose choices make a powerful statement about their values."

    Turning Points: New Paths and Second Careers for Lawyers, 1994
    George H. Cain
    This book examines a variety of law-related career options, both traditional and nontraditional. Meant as a guide for lawyers considering a career change.

    What Can You Do With A Law Degree? A Lawyers Guide To Career Alternatives Inside

    Outside & Around The Law, 1999
    Deborah Arron
    This book contains a "compilation of career evaluation, planning, and job-finding exercises and information for lawyers and law students." There are more than 500 job titles and many additional resources to explore openings in many other areas of employment. The chapters include, "Self- Assessment Tools and Resources", "Job Options for lawyers", and "Job Search Strategies and Tools."

    JD Preferred: 400+ Things You Can do With a Law Degree (Other Than Practice Law)
    Published by Federal Reports, Inc.

    Non-Legal Careers for Lawyers, 5th Edition, 2006
    Gary Munneke
    Great opportunities exist for law students and practicing lawyers outside the traditional practice of law. This important resource shows you when and how to choose a nonlegal career; the specialized skills legal training provides; how to plan and conduct a job search; and provides details on careers in business and industry, government and public service, associations and institutions, and entrepreneurial ventures. A resource section provides surveys and listings of nonlegal careers in several categories, and a listing of publishers and suggested readings on nonlegal careers.


    Spotlight on Careers

    Gene Rachmansky
    Mickey Carter
    Carol Frohlinger
    Lynnore Thames
    Jason Trujillo
    Bruce Tulgan


    Back to Top