15 Types of Law That J.D. Grads Can Practice

What can you do with a law degree?

Prospective attorneys who assess their career goals before applying to law school can make a better-informed decision about which school to attend. Researching different types of law will help applicants figure out which practice area they are most interested in. From there, they can determine which law schools will best prepare them for a particular field. Here are some career paths that future attorneys might consider.

Intellectual property lawyer

Lawyers who help protect creative people's ideas, inventions, works of art or trade secrets from theft are known as intellectual property attorneys. One category of intellectual property law is patent law, a field of law which focuses on assisting inventors who want to secure a patent for their inventions and who want to prevent others from copying and selling the technology they developed. A scientific or technical background is necessary for attorneys interested in patent law prosecution. In order to become licensed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, applicants must pass a test that is only given to those who have education or work experience in certain scientific fields.


Judge advocate in the U.S. military

Law schools grads who want to serve their country can become military attorneys. Each branch of the U.S. armed forces has legal professionals who work to resolve military justice issues. These officers are called judge advocates, or JAGs.

Compliance attorney

Compliance law specialists work to ensure that companies and their employees obey the legal and regulatory requirements that apply to different industries. Attorneys who work in compliance might also monitor the implementation of a company's own policies regarding personal conduct, ethics and risk reduction. Professionals in the compliance field aim to recognize and fix problems for businesses before they start.

Political lawyer or policy attorney

Law school can prepare graduates for a wide range of policy careers and political positions. It also may lead to a career as a lawyer for election campaigns, political parties or political action committees. Attorneys who specialize in election and political law often provide guidance to political organizations on how to comply with campaign finance laws and regulations and other rules that govern the political process.

Immigration attorney

Immigration lawyers often help immigrants navigate the many rules of the immigration process. They also occasionally provide legal advice to employers that are impacted by immigration laws. Some immigration lawyers assist the government with the interpretation and enforcement of immigration law.

Elder law attorney

Lawyers who specialize in elder law work with older clients or clients with disabilities and their families. As the baby-boom generation ages, an increasing number of people will be looking for legal guidance with regard to estate planning, medical directives and issues related to long-term care.

Environmental lawyer

An environmental attorney is someone who is an expert at interpreting environmental laws and regulations. A lawyer who specializes in environmental law can work for either environment-related government agencies, environment nonprofit organizations or for companies that are affected by environmental laws.

Judicial clerk

Though becoming a judge typically requires extensive and impressive legal work experience, recent law grads may serve as judicial clerks who provide assistance to judges by conducting legal research and submitting legal writing.

Administrative or regulatory attorney

These attorneys are experts on complex areas of law with an abundance of technical rules, such as securities law. They often work as government regulators, which involves either designing smart regulations, ensuring that people obey regulations or accomplishing both of these goals simultaneously.

Trial lawyer

Attorneys who are skilled public speakers often excel as trial lawyers, regardless of whether they are criminal prosecutors, criminal defense lawyers or civil litigators. The ability to captivate and convince judges and juries is necessary for success in this field of law.

Appellate lawyer

This type of attorney is someone who represents individuals whose trial court decision has been appealed. Prospective law students who are interested in appellate practice should look for law schools with faculty members who have experience in this field and strong legal writing courses, according to appellate attorneys.

Corporate lawyer

Attorneys who are experts in corporate law may either work at law firms with commercial clients, or they can work as in-house counsels for businesses. Experts on corporate law say people who intend to work in this field should seek a law school that has a solid track record of training accomplished corporate lawyers.

Human rights or civil rights lawyer

Some lawyers specialize in representing clients with human rights or civil rights cases. Attorneys who represent clients whose rights have been violated say this work can be highly stressful but is also emotionally rewarding.

International lawyer

Attorneys with expertise in international law provide clients with guidance on the rules and jurisdictions of various intergovernmental organizations like the United Nations, the European Union and the World Trade Organization. They also can help clients to interpret the rulings of international courts and tribunals, and they may represent clients with international legal disputes.

Labor and employment lawyer

These lawyers are experts on the legal rights of workers in the workplace, and they have an intricate understanding of the laws and regulations that influence the relationship between employees and their employers. Labor and employment lawyers may represent either individual workers, coalitions of workers or labor unions, and they can also defend businesses accused of labor law violations.

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Law careers you can pursue with a J.D. degree:

-- Intellectual property lawyer.

-- Judge advocate in the U.S. military.

-- Compliance attorney.

-- Political lawyer or policy attorney.

-- Immigration attorney.

-- Elder law attorney.

-- Environmental lawyer.

-- Judicial clerk.

-- Administrative or regulatory attorney.

-- Trial lawyer.

-- Appellate lawyer.

-- Corporate lawyer.

-- Human rights or civil rights lawyer.

-- International lawyer.

-- Labor and employment lawyer.

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