What Can You Do With a Law Degree?

As you ponder your future, you are likely asking a very important question - what can I do with a law degree? In the Office of Career and Professional Development, we educate students about the variety of settings in which lawyers work and help them craft a personalized plan for their path to meaningful employment. During the Employment Workshop series designed for first year law students, we will explore careers in some of the most common areas of legal employment, such as those listed below, as well as alternative legal careers. Also, during the one-on-one counseling sessions that will take place throughout your law school career, we will focus on developing the path to employment that is right for you.

Private Practice

Private practice attorneys work in law firms, which can range in size from single attorney offices to firms with 1000+ attorneys. Often they represent companies or individuals and are paid on an hourly or contingency fee basis. The majority of UST School of Law's graduates initially begin their careers working as associates for private law firms of varying size and in a variety of practices areas.

There are many different paths to a career in private practice; clerkships, internships, externships, and summer associate positions are all great ways to gain the skills and experience needed to become a successful private practice attorney. The CPD office is available to work with you and help you discover what path is best for you.

Judicial Clerkships

A judicial law clerk works closely with a judge or group of judges at the district/trial court or appellate levels. A judicial clerkship will provide a unique experience “behind the scenes” of the court. It is an opportunity to work directly with judges on a daily basis, observe courtroom proceedings, review written work product and court filings, write complex legal documents with guidance from judges, and, ultimately, learn what works and what does not in practice from the judges themselves. As such, a judicial clerkship is a further investment in your career that will push your legal research, writing, and advocacy skills to the next level. Because of this great experience, legal employers highly value judicial clerkships in evaluating potential candidates. A clerkship also provides a unique connection with judges and other clerks and can lead to lifelong relationships with very influential legal professionals.

The Career and Professional Development Office is prepared to help our students and graduates land judicial clerkships. We have worked hard to gather information about the evaluation and hiring process, and we know the ins and outs of the application procedures. We are able to provide detailed guidance with regard to preparing effective resumes, cover letters, writing samples, and other application materials, and we are able to provide realistic mock interviews utilizing faculty, staff, and alumni resources. The University of St. Thomas School of Law has worked hard to form relationships with judges from a variety of courts in a variety of locations around the region and nationally, and we can tap into a constantly expanding network of current and former judicial clerks to help support our students and graduates in their search for a judicial clerkship.

Business & Industry

You have likely heard the phrase "in-house counsel" at some point and may be curious as to what that phrase actually means. An in-house attorney works for a company and provides direction to the organization while also providing insight on how to minimize risk and be successful. Corporate counsel roles may vary depending on the size of the organization and the overall type of business.

The field of compliance is a growing market. Each year a number of school of law graduates work in a compliance role after graduation. A compliance professional is central to the organization's ethical life and plays a key role in assisting the organization with navigating increasingly complex regulations. Organizations in a variety of fields utilize the services of compliance professionals, including banking and finance, healthcare, retail, manufacturing, and more.

Government, Public Interest & Nonprofits

Many students who enter the school of law do so with a strong desire to make a positive impact on the surrounding community and dedicate their time and energy during law school and beyond to engaging in public interest work.
Attorneys who work in public interest, government, or with nonprofit organizations often provide legal services to underserved populations, engage in legal reform, or further interests shared by the public and address an overarching public concern.

There are many different areas of law that fall under the public interest umbrella and where you can make an impact as a law student or practicing attorney after graduation.

Examples of subject areas: Civil Rights, Children's Rights, Women's Rights, Prisoner's Rights, Disability and Mental Health Issues, Environmental Protection, Education Issues, Gay and Lesbian Rights, Elder Rights, Homelessness and Poverty

Examples of employers: State and federal government, legal services organizations, policy advocacy organizations, nonprofit organizations, public interest law firms