What Legal Careers are Available?

Presumably, you’re thinking about law school because some aspect of the law interests you. But there are so many different types of law – different fields (or “practice areas”), different types of law office (“practice settings”) – that it’s sometimes hard to get a handle on what your options might be.  There are even law-related careers that do not require a law degree (see resource tile).

But let’s start with the careers lawyers pursue. To practice law in the US, lawyers must first attend law school, obtain a J.D., and then pass the bar examination in at least one state (normally the state in which the individual intends to practice). Bar admission requirements vary by state (PDF), but all include these basic features.

There are a lot of ways to describe the different ways of practicing law, but the following are the most common and useful categories.