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Academic Careers for JDs

( 28 votes, average: 4.4 out of 5)
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Academic Careers for JDs
With the notoriously difficult legal market nowadays, a lot of JDs are considering what alternatives they have to finding something in Big Law. One of the options worth considering is working in Academia. Are you in love with the bountiful books in the libraries, the youthful enthusiasm of the students, and the wizened widely-read discussions of professors? You might make your law school your permanent home.

As going on to be a straight professor can be highly competitive, you should consider some other options first. You could work in administration, in Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, and Admissions. Meet people in such departments in your school: they are most interested in hiring alumni for such spots.


Becoming a law professor, however, is, in terms of ease, not much better than going on to be a lawyer. First of all, most universities want experienced lawyers to teach their programs. Those tenure track positions are filled with those who have published in reputable law journals such as "National Law Journal." It can be a rewarding field to go into, but it is not the "easy route," not at all.

There are alternatives though. You could teach undergraduates in paralegal programs, or maybe economics. These programs often require you to have a PhD, but not always, so checking in with the universities that interest you will clue you in to the viability of this option.

Another option is working with a corporation as a staff attorney to teach employees about relevant legal issues such as sexual harassment and theft. You would lead seminars and classes to educate corporations on new and changing policies.

You might also teach Continuing Legal Education at Bar Associations, to further educate other lawyers.

Considering the difficulty of the legal field as it is now, considering such options might align you with a more rewarding and less frustrating career track. You could stick with this career indefinitely, or use it as a stepping stone to what you prefer.


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