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.

Traditional Legal Practice


General Info and Resources

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


Criminal Law

Considering a Career in Criminal Law? Here are Ten Helpful Tips (PDF)


Spotlight on Careers

Sharon L. McCarthy (White Collar Defense and Federal Prosecution)



Entertainment Careers for Lawyers, 2015
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.
Available for purchase from amazon.com



In-House Career Paths in the Financial Sector (PDF)

American Corporate Counsel Association (ACCA): www.acca.com
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.

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

In-House Blog www.inhouseblog.com. A comprehensive blog focused on the in-house market.

Law.com publishes “In House Weekly,” a newsletter devoted to in-house legal issues.

Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) – www.mcca.com 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: www.nlj.com

View from the Top: Law Firm Leaders Unlock the Secrets of a Successful Legal Career, 2005
Ron Hogan: Although not focused on in-house opportunities, this book serves as a valuable guide for managing your career.
Available for purchase from amazon.com


Careers in International Law, 2012
Edited by Salli A Swartz, 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.
Available for purchase from the ABA.

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

National Health Lawyers Associationwww.healthlawyers.org.



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


Small and Solo Practices

Choosing Small, Choosing Smart: Job Search Strategies for Lawyers in the Small Firm Market, 2005
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.
Available for purchase from amazon.com


Spotlight on Careers

Andrew DeNatale
Pamela Mann
Laural Boone

Alternative Legal Careers


General Info and Resources

Non-Practicing Roles for Lawyers in Law Firms (PDF)

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)

Transitioning from Law to Business: 10 Helpful Tips (PDF)

Public Interest / Public Service

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, www.uscourts.gov

Federal Law Clerk Information System Website, www.judicialclerkships.com.

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

Visit www.yellowpages.com
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, Vault.com 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.”

Source: www.law.villanova.edu/studentservices/careerstrategy/careertransition.asp

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

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

Event Recap:”J.D. Preferred:” Using your Legal Skillset to Succeed in Alternative Settings (January 7, 2016)

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