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.
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
|Mean Salary (2018)||$144,230||$61,530 (for all librarians)||$55,530 (for all reporters and correspondents)|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)||8% growth||9% growth (for all librarians)||10% decrease (for all reporters and correspondents)|
|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
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Real estate
- Non-profit manager