What Can I Do with a JD (Law Degree)?

If you're interested in starting a career as a lawyer or attorney, then you need to earn a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. A J.D. degree program will help prepare you for your state's bar exam and a subsequent career in law. Read on to learn more. Schools offering Juris Doctor degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Juris Doctor (J.D.) Defined

In a Juris Doctor degree program, you'll receive a broad education that emphasizes all aspects of the legal system. In most programs, you'll be able to concentrate your studies on fields that include dispute resolution, criminal law, intellectual property law, tax law or family law. Some universities offer a J.D. as part of a joint degree program that also confers a graduate-level degree in business administration, environmental science or social work.

To apply to a J.D. program, you must have a bachelor's degree, exhibit strong writing skills and take the Law School Admissions Test, also known as the LSAT.

Important Facts About Career Opportunities in This Field

Lawyer Law Librarian Journalist
Mean Salary (2014) $133,470 $58,110 $45,800
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 6% growth 2% growth 9% decrease
Key Skills Interpersonal, problem-solving, and research skills Communication, technology, and reading skills Objectivity, interpersonal, and communication skills
Similar Occupations Judge, Hearing Officer, Mediator Educator, Archivist/Curator, Library Technician Editor, Photographer, Public Relations Specialist

Source: United States Bureau of Labor Statistics


To become a lawyer, also known as an attorney, most states require that you earn a Juris Doctor degree. You'll then be required to pass your state's bar examination. As a lawyer, you'll represent clients during the course of legal proceedings as well as compose legal documents and consult with clients on a variety of legal matters. Depending on your professional interests, you may be interested in working in areas that include:

  • Elder law
  • Immigration law
  • Personal injury law
  • Criminal law
  • Contract law
  • Family law
  • Tort law
  • Bankruptcy law

Non-legal Careers

If you earn a J.D. degree, then you are not strictly limited to working as a lawyer. The strong writing and analytical skills developed in a J.D. program can be of great benefit to a variety of careers in business, government, education and other related fields.

Investment Banker

You can apply the negotiation and contract drafting skills that you acquired in your legal studies to the world of banking. Your understanding of the legislative aspects of economic and financial issues can help prepare you for a career as an investment banker. As an investment banker, you'll analyze financial information and help businesses, governments and other organizations to raise the capital that they need.

Law Librarian

Usually, a J.D. degree is needed to become a law librarian, though you may need to have a graduate degree in library science as well. As a law librarian, you'll be responsible for maintaining the collection of relevant legislative documents, court decisions and government regulations used by law schools, legal firms or government organizations. You'll organize and maintain a legal library and provide research assistance to those in need of specific documents or cases.

Other Options

While these other options may not be the most popular choices for J.D. holders, they are some additional ideas for what you can do once you earn your degree if you are looking for something outside the box. Unique career choices include:

  • Journalism
  • Real estate
  • Non-profit manager
  • Entrepreneurship

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Yeshiva University

    Campus Locations:

    • New York: New York
  • Yale University

    Campus Locations:

    • Connecticut: New Haven
  • William Mitchell College of Law

    Campus Locations:

    • Minnesota: Saint Paul
  • Willamette University

    Campus Locations:

    • Oregon: Salem
  • Whittier College

    Campus Locations:

    • California: Whittier
  • Western State College of Law at Argosy University

    Campus Locations:

    • California: Fullerton
  • Western New England University

    Campus Locations:

    • Massachusetts: Springfield
  • West Virginia University

    Campus Locations:

    • West Virginia: Morgantown
  • Washington University in St Louis

    Campus Locations:

    • Missouri: Saint Louis
  • Washington and Lee University

    Campus Locations:

    • Virginia: Lexington