A career in law is suited to more than what we can see as strictly legal professions. These include litigation, In-house Counsel, Law firms and the judiciary. No, we are not just saying that; there are actual, legitimate, respectable fields that open-up for someone with a law degree. This is possible because of the inclusive and well-rounded education a law degree gives you. Law students are taught economics, law and economics, political science, politics and law, sociology, society and law, media and law, law and gender, law and science, law and anything else you wish to connect it to because the law influences everything we do; from driving a car to even what car you can drive. With the skill from such education and experience, why should one have to choose from just five jobs with a saturated market?
Here are some legal careers you could consider instead.
A LEGAL JOURNALIST AND/OR BLOGGER
It is not news that the duty of media houses and channels is to report on the in’s and outs of the country. However, no media house can function without legal intel, especially in today’s climate. A legal journalist can be that very person who has just the right amount of legal expertise and more than enough amount of journalistic curiosity. Media and the law is a potent field of great importance to the fabric of a nation. Topics could range from freedom of speech, RTI, spreading legal awareness i.e making sure people know their laws, and building a mainstream discourse on the law and its intersections.
If you are curious, opinionated, like to voice or write your views and like to begin a discussion, this could be just the field for you. Not to forget the bonus of becoming a recognisable and respectable public figure. Moreover, a law degree is valued at most media channels.
The way forward in this field is through building a written and/or vocal presence online, sending publications, and interning/working at media houses. Additionally, one could also join a media house as a part-time legal correspondent, legal expert (of any field), or guest writer.
Working as a public official has multiple perks. As a lawyer, one could take the IAS examination with a little bit more of an edge. From there, one could join the law commission and help draft the country’s laws. Other positions of repute include legal counsel to almost any and every government and state body. There is also the JAG branch in the armed forces with which you can practice law exclusively for and with the military. Each of these options has separate examinations, processes, and the way forward would involve serious preparation. If you are somebody who prefers job security, a more down-to-earth, balanced work-life, and would like to be involved in the country’s workings- this could be the field for you.
Another very lucrative field with a relatively better work-life balance is the field of teaching and academic research. Contrary to popular opinion, being a professor does not involve just teaching and grading. It is one of the more versatile and flexible fields for people who enjoy reading, learning, and writing; academically or otherwise. One could mix disciplines, write breakthrough articles and publish them across various frontiers, including building one for yourself. A professor gets the opportunity to meet and work with distinguished experts in their fields. They can organise events that help promote fields of their interest, all the while educating young minds, thus making it a refreshing experience each year.
However, academia may not always be the most well-paying job in the legal industry. Salary would depend on tenure, the type of university, your qualifications and expertise. It can also take time to build a commendable experience chart which makes it a slow-moving and slightly risky opportunity. This is perhaps why most established people in the field of law choose to start by becoming visiting faculty. If you are truly passionate about teaching, consistently educating yourself and wish to do so for the rest of your life, this could be just the filed for you. The way forward involves keeping up your grades and considering further study. There is also the NET to qualify and a PH. D is always favourable.
Think Tank is the broader term for all such organisations that deal with research, policy review and drafting. Since the knowledge and understanding of the law are limited to those who have studied it extensively, the market for law graduates in this field is vast. Lawyers can be policy analysts and advisors for business firms, social service centres, the UN, public organisations and even trade centres. This is because all these fields impact law and vice versa. Since law governs international trade and national policy, a number of well-organised law firms would like to hire lawyers who could translate these nuances into how such circumstances affect them. This field provides employment in local think tanks, government offices, NGO’S that even governments have come to rely on, and international firms who would like to understand the Indian market better. Work stretches in both- the direction of public service with research on government funding, administrative law justice deliverance, and RTI, to more white-collar research such as tax law, trade law, Competition Law and economics.
If you are someone who likes to read law from the lens of its impact and trade-offs on the economy or polity, this could be the field for you. There is no one way to enter this field. One could join a think tank as a lawyer, a professor, or simply someone experienced in such topics. Employment opportunities are unfixed because the market is still relatively new and growing, however, there are several organisations that offer full-time employment, including research centres in universities. The way to build this career chart can be through further study, relevant internships, and job experience.
Anybody can start a business; however, it is definitely easier if you are a lawyer. Law graduates, through their years of conditioning, are automatically able to analyse and pre-empt from what is in front of them. The skills one picks up in law school or as a lawyer are indisputably beneficial in a business. An understanding of the law, an understanding of the changes in rules, an analytical viewpoint that is able to pick out flaws and weak points in a proposition, and an overall balanced outlook are all skills that a student picks up without even realising. As an entrepreneur, these skills could take you ahead faster and safer.
The employment opportunity in this field essentially depends on you- you become your own employer while the risks, benefits remain the same for everyone. Your business could be related to law as well- especially the field of AI and law. Several lawyers, most of the time, make successful entrepreneurs. If you are someone with great ideas, a will to bring something new to the table and can make strong decisions, this could be an option for you. The way forward for this means coming up with plans and envisioning them to life. Be bold.
BOUTIQUE LAW FIRMS
This is the era of specialisation and a number of practicing lawyers have begun opening firms that specialise in niche areas of law such as Sports Law, Dispute Resolution, science, technology and IP, Culture and Heritage Law. The work culture is better than large firms and the pay-offs could be beneficial depending on what you make of it.
These are options only at the top of the list. What one can do with a law degree is almost unlimited. Keep asking questions, researching, attend seminars, and keep your mind open to new ideas, always. If you’re a confused student or, a practitioner looking for a career shift, try going about it in reverse order- find what you like, what you’re skilled at, and search the market for it. Chances are there is somebody out there with the same passions as you. If not, you can almost always create your own market. It wouldn’t be the first time.
Lastly and most importantly, never feel guilty about choosing an unconventional career. If there are stories of failed attempts, there are also enough of successful ones. Make wise choices that are better for your mind, your skills, and your future.