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What can I do with this major?




Corporate Practice

Any large corporation (largest number of attorneys are at corporate headquarters)

Corporate office summer clerkships and entry level positions are rare. Usually only experienced lawyers are hired by corporations. Develop tolerance for bureaucratic procedure. An undergraduate major in business, particularly accounting or finance, is helpful.

Federal Government

Most government branches have legal counsel

Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps for all branches of the military

Get involved with an internship or co-op program with the federal government to get a foot in the door. New lawyers frequently go to court and litigate sooner; experience gained here can be valuable to private firms later. Government work offers a variety of practice opportunities from criminal to contracts.

Judicial Clerkships

  • Federal Court
  • State Court

Federal Courts of Appeal and District Court (trial) Judges and Magistrates, Bankruptcy and Administrative Law Judges State Courts of Appeal and Trial Level Judges Federal and State Court Clerkships for Collective Judges in a Court

High academic achievement is emphasized by State and Federal judges; Federal judges usually require top 10% or 15% class rank. Clerkships can be a stepping-stone to other legal areas and provide many benefits for future career opportunities. For U.S. Supreme Court, applicants must be top law graduates with one to two years clerking at lower Federal Court. Moot Court participation in regional and national competitions is helpful. Law review membership, as an indication of writing ability, is highly valued and emphasized at all court levels.


  • Lobbying/
  • Legislative Positions


Trade and professional associations

Political Action Committees

Law firms

Public interest advocacy groups

Congressional representatives at national, state, and local govern

A service-oriented attitude is helpful. Learn to enlist the help of others. Clerkship or summer associate positions with law firms providing lobbying services provide good experience. Demonstrate an interest in politics through your undergraduate major, active campaigning, or research papers/articles. Obtain law firm experience. Acquire superior writing skills. Develop a pleasing personality, enthusiasm, and high energy level. Show ability to work with people and good communication and organizational skills. Consider earning a Master's of Public Administration.

Private Practice

Large multi-office firms

Medium-size firms

Small firms

Legal clinics

Other private legal services

Acquire excellent research and writing skills. Obtain clerkships or internships.

Large and medium-size firms frequently emphasize grades and class rank and value law review and moot court experience.

Public Interest Law

  • Legal Aid Services
    Public Defender Offices
    Public Interest Groups

Federal, state & local government

Private groups contract

Nonprofit and public interest organizations

Law firms practicing public interest law

Gain supervised work experience in an area through summer internships.

Demonstrate a desire to help the economically disadvantaged and show an interest in law as a means of change. Volunteer for non-profit organizations that serve a wide range of people.


Law schools

Business schools

Undergraduate departments of History and Political Science

Paralegal schools

Obtain several years of experience in private practice or government agency.

The LLM degree and an outstanding academic record are required for law school teaching. Teaching allows for more flexibility of time. Some lawyers teach on an adjunct basis.

State & Local Government

  • Criminal Prosecution
  • Civil Law

District Attorney's Office

Attorney General's Office

Attorney General's Office

State agencies, commissions, boards, executive and legislative office staff

Local agencies and commissions

City and county law offices

Take essential courses related to criminal law, criminal procedure, constitutional law, and evidence. Participate in a criminal clinical program. Obtain summer positions in a prosecutor's office or a criminal litigation office or private firms practicing criminal law. Civil law deals with a broad range of subjects other than criminal matters and provides for a wide variety of functions including the opportunity to work with private lawyers and a variety of public officials. A demonstrated interest in public issues and completion of related internships are helpful.

Patent & Copyright Law

Law firms (specialized)


U.S. Patent & Trademark Office

This highly specialized area usually requires technical, science or engineering degree. These lawyers help protect clients' claims to copyrights, inventions, software, etc.

Energy, Natural Sciences and Environmental Law

Law firms


Federal agencies (especially Department of Energy)

Environmental compliance services companies

State agencies

Regulatory Commission

This area involves rights to resources including those in the earth and dangers in production of energy as well as transportation, taxation, patents, and government regulation. An undergraduate major in environmental science, agriculture, engineering, or science may be good preparation.

Financial Planning, Investment Banking & Estate Planning

Bank trust departments

Brokerage firms

Insurance companies

Development offices for preparatory schools, hospitals and universities

Insurance "Estate Planning" positions require interest and ability in sales. Bank trust department positions are good for those who do not want to litigate or be confrontational. An undergraduate major in accounting or finance may be helpful.

Legal Publishers/ Journalism

Legal publishers

Print and electronic media

Exhibit interest in writing, research, and editing for publishers. For national media, gain experience covering the law and politics.

Law Firm Administration

Private law firms

Handle office management (e.g. work flow), business development, clerk and attorney recruitment, clerkship programs, finances, and human resources in a law firm.

Higher Education Administration

Law schools

Universities and colleges

Serve as a Dean or Director of Academics, Admissions, Career Services, Records, Alumni Affairs, Development, etc. in law schools. Work in judicial affairs, pre-law advising, or other undergraduate student support services.

Law Librarianship

Law firms

Law schools

Masters in Library or Information Science, in addition to a law degree, may be required for some positions.

Strategies for placement in Law

  • Students interested in attending law school may choose any major of interest. Some undergraduate majors can help prepare students for a particular area of law, e.g., a B.S. in environmental science for a career in environmental law.
  • Develop strong research and writing skills. Enhance communication skills through public speaking courses, debate team, or Toast Masters (a public speaking organization).
  • Maintain a high G.P.A. to increase chances of gaining admission to law school.
  • Join Phi Alpha Delta professional association.
  • Find part-time jobs or internships in law firms or government agencies to reality test your interest in law and to gain relevant experience.
  • Prepare for the LSAT (Law School Admission Test) which is required by all law schools.
  • Secure strong personal recommendations from professors.
  • Participate in mock trial, student government, student judiciary boards, and other related organizations.

Prepared by the Career Planning staff of Career Services at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. (2005) UTK is an EEO/AA/Title VI/Title IX/Section
504/ADA /ADEA Employer.


American Bar Association
National Association for Paralegal Associations, Inc. 
National Association for Law Placement
Law School Admission Council