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Learning more about legal careers

These pages outline only the very barest of information about legal careers.  There are three basic ways to find out more, listed here in declining order of helpfulness:work in one or more law offices, talk to practicing attorneys, and read more detailed descriptions of legal careers. Remember, this...

Internships

Internships—paid, for credit, or entirely volunteer—are the best way to get experience in a legal field before making the big decision about whether law school is the right path to the career you want to pursue. The answer to the question, “Should I do an internship?” is always,...

Private practice vs. public service/public interest

Another distinction among lawyers is between those who work in private firms and/or for companies, and those who work for government or in non-profit work.  The first type is generally referred to as “private practice” while the second is called “public interest” (or, occasionally, “public service”).  Attorneys...

Lawyer-Alumni and Pre-Law Network

A great many UMass Amherst students considering legal careers don’t know any lawyers personally—none in the family, no family friends, really no one to connect with in the field in order to learn more about the profession.  A great many lawyers who are alumni of UMass Amherst...

Firm size: From solo to BigLaw

A lot of attention in the mainstream media (and popular culture) gets focused on lawyers working in large firms (often referred to as “BigLaw”).  But only about 10% of law grads—roughly 4,000 out of the 40,000 who graduated law school in 2015—enter jobs in the very large law firms (those with 500...

Regional vs. national firms

Law firms can be either regional or local in their reach, or national or even global.  Much depends on the size of the firm, the area(s) of law in which they practice, and the nature of their clients’ industries and needs. Lawyers who work interstate or internationally must...

Thinking about law school

Why are you thinking about law school?  The most common reasons I hear are some variation of the following: I like to argue. I took Constitutional Law/Legal 250/Civil Liberties/etc. and it was mind-blowing. Law is so fascinating. I want a reliable, interesting job. I want to make...

Politics

A substantial portion of individuals in elected office have law degrees – for example, roughly one-third of members of Congress went to law school.  As well, many high-ranking elected and appointed officials within the executive branch (at both the state and federal level) are lawyers, and, of course, nearly 100% of...

Criteria for choosing a law school

What you’re looking for in a law school depends largely on your career goals—why do you want to be a lawyer in the first place?  But it also depends on a number of other personal factors, including geographic preferences, intellectual interests, and desired learning environment.  The...

Academia

Almost all professors in law schools have a law degree.  Traditionally, this was the only academic credential necessary for teaching in law schools, but in the last decade or so, a growing percentage of law professors have PhDs in addition to or instead of JDs—about 25% of professors at...

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