Where should you work after law school graduation?

What Should I Do

Graduation is up around the bend for most 3Ls. There’s a good chance that some of you knew what you wanted to do after graduation before you even entered your 2L year. As you go to classes and learn about new options, your preference may change.

You’re probably asking yourself, “What makes AmeriBar qualified to tell me about jobs?” We hail from a variety of legal backgrounds. In fact, we could go into excruciating detail about each one, but for brevity’s sake, it’s only as extensive as we’ve written below.

We understand that each of you will have different goals for your post-graduation journey. Some people want to pull down a six-figure salary and others want to be able to go home and spend time with their kids. “Best” is completely subjective, so we’ve broken it down into different goals. Naturally, there is going to be some overlap with the jobs, so you may see a few of them more than once.

If you want to make a lot of money.

According to the U.S. News & World Report[1], the median salary for attorneys was $127,990 in 2023. 

Your best bet for getting a higher paying job is to land a job as in-house counsel for a large corporation or as a trial lawyer in a big firm in a large city like San Jose, CA; San Francisco, CA; or NYC. You’re probably not going to pull a large salary in a rural city or working in public interest. Keep in mind that you’re going to have to work a lot to pull in a big salary. Many firms have billable hour requirements–you’re going to have to really work for that $100K job. If you break it down hourly, then it’s not all rainbows and butterflies.   

If you want to make a difference.

Sing with me now, “Heal the world. Make it a better place. For you and for me and the entire human race…” If you want to make this world a better place for you…and for me…okay, okay, you get it, then you might consider a career in the public interest realm such as a job as a Public Defender or District Attorney. Granted, your salary isn’t going to be $100K, and you may have a ton of thankless clients. Ultimately, though, you will be making somewhat of a difference out there in that big, bad world. Another option is to go into human rights law or environmental law. That’s not to say you can’t make a difference in the corporate world, but any job is going to be as fulfilling and meaningful as you make it.

If you want to be your own boss.

Hang your shingle! There’s a lot of apprehension about going out on your own, but never fear–someone does it every day. If you do your research, you’ll see a lot of advice against going out on your own because of the salary concerns and lacking client base and experience.  It can be done, however, despite the naysayers. You will have to be tenacious and not mind developing your own client base. You’re going to have to work your network like crazy, so that’s why it is important to start working on it from your 1L year if you have any inclination that you want to go out on your own.

If you want to get a lot of practice.

You’re going to get a ton of experience as a judge’s clerk or in the public interest realm. Many judges cover different areas of law, and you’ll learn how to handle each of these procedurally. If you go into public interest law, you will have no shortage of clients. You will likely cover a specific area of law and work your way up to higher crimes as you get experience, but you will get experience.

If you want to be able to go home for dinner.

You’re probably not going to want to go into corporate law or work as an attorney in a big firm that requires a large amount of billable hours. You might try becoming a legal professor. The salary is pretty decent, and you’ll generally work a normal 40-hour work week. You’ll have your office hours, plan your lessons, and teach bright young minds of those like yourself. You can also do some of the alternative career paths that have a stable work schedule and hours.

If you want to go to court.

This will be applicable to many attorney positions, but try to avoid areas of law that generally settle before going to court. Again, you’ll get a ton of courtroom experience if you work in public interest. Another good bet is to look into a law firm that handles a lot of court cases and see if they’re looking to hire an associate. You’ll probably get a lot of courtroom time as a criminal defense attorney in either the private or public sector. If you want to see court from the flip side, you’ll make a lot of courtroom visits as a judge’s clerk, but not from a practicing standpoint.

If you don’t want to practice.

If you look for alternative careers for lawyers, you’re going to find a TON of information. You can always be a professor. This is an especially great career for someone who wants set hours and enjoys legal research and writing. If you like a good challenge, you could always be a legal recruiter. There’s also the possibility of going into the corporate world, not as in-house counsel, but as the HR director, CEO, or COO.

If you have a question or issue that you would like for us to address, send us an email at support@ameribar.com. Your question may be featured on our blog.

[1] http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/lawyer

7 Ways to Get Your Professor to Love You

ProfessorSchool is starting back for many law students this week. If you’re in the second semester of your 1L year, congratulations! You’ve made it through the hard part! Now that you’ve gotten into the swing of things, you are probably wondering how to get into good favor with your professors. This information is valuable to anyone in law school, so keep reading even if you are beyond your 1L year.

On The Office, Michael Scott once asked, “Do I want to be feared or loved?” His response was almost genius–“Um…easy, both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.” Now, maybe you don’t want your professor to love you that much, but it is important to make a good impression.

So, how do you do that?

It's important to go to class prepared each day.

You’re not going to be well liked by your professors if you’re always unprepared for class or never have a decent response for questions. You have to do the assignments, read all of the cases, and brief your cases so you’ll be ready when you’re called on. It’s our experience that if you’re always unprepared, you’re going to get called on frequently and not for the right reasons. So, go into class each day like you’re prepared for battle.

Since you're already prepared to be called on each day anyway, answer the questions when no one else will answer.

That’s going to earn you great favor with your professors. Professors dislike looking into a sea of blank faces as much as you hate being in the hot seat.

Contribute to the class discussions.

The whole point of the Socratic Method is to get ideas flowing. If an impromptu debate crops up in class, contribute some healthy and constructive banter to the mix. Your professor will notice.

You don’t want to be the only one talking all the time. That’s almost as bad as not talking at all. Know when to answer questions and when to stop. You can usually tell if you’re talking too much if you hear a collective groan in the room every time you start to speak.

...but know when to stop talking.

You don’t want to be the only one talking all the time. That’s almost as bad as not talking at all. Know when to answer questions and when to stop. You can usually tell if you’re talking too much if you hear a collective groan in the room every time you start to speak. 

Go to your professor's office hours.

The office hours are in place for a reason. Take advantage of them any time you need clarification on a concept that you don’t fully grasp or when you need advice. It’s good to set up a line of communication because your professors will be your references for employment when you don’t have a lot of practical experience, and they provide excellent letters of recommendation for your jurisdiction’s Office of Bar Examiners.

Continue taking the classes of the professors you enjoy.

Once you get past the 1L auditorium classes, your elective classes are going to be much smaller. Your professor will notice you in the class either way though. Trust us. The smaller classes lend themselves to in-class discussions and less to the rapid-fire questioning that you’ll see in your 1L classes. Contribute well-thought arguments to your classes over time and your professor will love you even more.

Don't be afraid to ask questions if you don't understand something.

I would worry more about understanding the concepts in the material than what your classmates think of you. Your professor understands that it’s not always easy to ask questions, so they won’t mind if you have to ask one in class. If you’re shy about it, you can always go to their office hours.

We are full of great advice. Utilize AmeriBar’s complete courses to learn how to tackle the bar exam. We give great tips for studying, writing essays, tackling the MBE, and so much more.

Not quite there yet? Try our free trial and see what AmeriBar’s courses are like.

Questions? Email us at support@ameribar.com, or give us a call at 800-529-2651 if you have a question about AmeriBar’s courses or if you would like us to address a specific issue in our blog.

What is the Socratic Method?

The Socratic Method

The mere mention of the Socratic Method to a lawyer may evoke an exaggerated cringe. Law school professors use the Socratic Method in law school classes. We’re not going to give you a lesson on Socrates, but we will tell you about his method of engaging students. Socrates would continually question his students until he found a contradiction in a response, thus finding an error in the responder’s initial presumption.

The Socratic Method is used by many law school professors, not to humiliate students, but as a method to engage a large group of students in a discussion and to stimulate thinking. The intent is not to fill students with anxiety before entering class each day, but to get the students to evaluate and craft logical responses based on their class studies. You’ve probably seen movies and television shows where the professor questions the student continually until every bit of confidence has evaporated. It’s not always like that, but if you’re not prepared to handle a (potential) barrage of questions, you’ll feel pretty badly when you walk out that door. Be prepared to answer multiple questions over your lesson for the day if you’re called on. Trust me, slumping down and not making eye contact won’t save you from being called on.

If there is one bit of advice we can give you before attending a class where the professor utilizes the Socratic Method, it’s that you must do all of your reading before class each day. Not only will you be better prepared, but you also won’t feel nearly as anxious when you hear your name called across the lecture hall.