Law

Career Paths in Law

They read about legal precedents, spending hours or months in law libraries or with online databases. They prepare contracts, briefs, and other documents, assembling boilerplate paragraphs or writing text from scratch. They plan and conduct depositions, which in complicated cases can generate thousands of pages of testimony, all of which has to be read, analyzed, and refined into usable information. Sometimes, especially if they are litigation specialists, lawyers actually argue cases before judges or juries.

To practice law, you must pass the bar exam in the state in which you want to practice. Almost all lawyers earn their JD degree after three years of law school, and then take the bar exam in the state in which they wish to practice.

Many lawyers work in private industry, for law firms or as in house counsel for companies. Lawyers also work at all levels of the government and for nonprofits and public interest organizations. While many lawyers are generalists, there are opportunities for specialization, such as patent law, real estate law, or family law. There are 100’s of specializations within law.

Resources

Here is a comprehensive list of law specializations.

More information on careers in law:

Job Search Resources

Entry Level Positions

While most jobs in the legal field require a JD, there are positions with law firms that are research focused and are usually paralegal positions. Most students use these positions as a “stepping stone” to law school for 1-2 years. These positions may involve doing basic legal research, filing court papers, and gathering relevant information from clients.

  • Case Manager
  • Case Assistant
  • Paralegal
  • Research Assistant
  • Legal Assistant

Skills Needed

  • Administrative
  • Analytical Thinking
  • Attention to Detail
  • Time Management
  • Writing Skills
  • Active Learning

Sample Internship / Job Titles of Nu Students/Alumni

  • Paralegal, Edelman Combs Latturner & Goodwin, LLC
  • Legal Assistant, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe
  • Attorney Assistant, Jackson Lewis PC
  • Patent Attorney/Agent, Medley Behrens & Lewis
  • Corporate Tax Intern, Tribune Company

Internship/Job Search Advice

  • Do not limit your search to “legal” positions, as the majority of those opportunities are reserved for law school students.
  • Public interest, nonprofits and government agencies tend to have more substantive opportunities for undergraduates than corporate law firms.
  • Because it is common for “legal” interns to perform administrative tasks, highlight those experiences on your resume and in your cover letter.
  • The best way to secure an internship in a legal firm is to utilize your contacts and further develop a network of legal professionals.

Interviewing Advice

  • Legal interviewers use a conversational, non-directed approach to interviewing. Candidates should be able to clearly articulate why they are interested in a particular organization and discuss current issues – read the recent updates, press releases and/or talk to any personal contacts at the organization.
  • Be prepared to discuss every detail of your resume, including skills such as organizational, communication and writing.
  • During a discussion on a legal issue or addressing potential weaknesses, remember to remain calm, composed and focus on good reasoning. 

Sample Law Firms & Legal Services Interview Questions

  • Provide an example of a complex legal issue that you had to analyze and solve. How did you conduct your research?
  • How do you organize your workload in order to manage multiple tasks and tight deadlines?
  • Tell me about your experience dealing with confidential and sensitive information.
  • How do you ensure accuracy of your work?

Get Involved

Networking

  • To successfully navigate the internship and job search process, it is important to take an active approach to networking and expanding your Northwestern career network.
  • Network with your virtual connections: Use LinkedIn to search and join industry related groups. Northwestern Alumni Association.
  • Build relationships with your personal connections: academic contacts, former employers, campus organizations

Professional Associations

  • American Bar Association
  • Association for Legal Professionals
  • The Chicago Council of Lawyers

Sample of Internship / Job Titles of NU Students/Alumni

  • Paralegal, Edelman Combs Latturner & Goodwin, LLC
  • Legal Assistant, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe
  • Attorney Assistant, Jackson Lewis PC
  • Patent Attorney/Agent, Medley Behrens & Lewis
  • Corporate Tax Intern, Tribune Company