Law is an exciting career that helps connect society to the legal system. Law is a broad profession that spans many sectors; however, lawyers have many similar traits and responsibilities. First, to practice law, one must first pass a state’s bar exam, which is often done after three years of law school. Once lawyers start practicing law, they work as advisors and advocates for their clients. In performing their duties, they require strong analytical and critical thinking skills.
Lawyers work in the public, private, and non-profit sectors in a wide range of industries. For example, while many people associate law solely with criminal law, criminal trial lawyers accounts for only a fraction of lawyers. In addition to criminal trial work, lawyers may specialize in a number of other fields, including intellectual property, business finance, mergers, bankruptcy, or environmental law.
Lawyers can work in varied environments. For example, lawyers may conduct interviews and fieldwork in addition to their time in the office and in the courtroom. Furthermore, lawyers work with many different types of people, including their clients and co-workers.
In addition to lawyers, there are paralegals and legal assistants that assist lawyers in their work. Paralegals and legal assistants do not have to go to law school; however, many use the experience to survey a career in law and as experience to go to law school and eventually become a lawyer.
Manhattan College Resources
Public sector jobs in law are numerous. At all levels of government, throughout various government entities, in-house lawyers are hired to work on relevant legal issues. In addition, many lawyers working for the public sector work in criminal law, which offers many internship opportunities for both undergraduate and law school students.
- Bronx District Attorney Office
- Brooklyn District Attorney Office
- Manhattan District Attorney Office
- New York City Law Department
- New York State Department of Environmental Conversation
- Queens District Attorney Office
- Richmond County District Attorney Office (Staten Island)
- United States Department of Justice
Many non-profits are dedicated to advocating for a cause through the legal system or legal representation. In addition, many private law firms offer pro-bono service helping represent public interest causes.
Private law firms come in many different sizes and with many different specialties. Some smaller firms only specialize in one or a few areas of practice whereas many of the larger law firms practice many specialties. Some firms are even general practice firms being practicing all major areas of corporate law. Some sample areas of practice include: intellectual property, business finance, mergers, tax, private equity, bankruptcy, arbitration, and capital market law.
Sample Job Titles And Job Descriptions
- Public Sector: Queens County Assistant District Attorney- An assistant district attorney confers with the District Attorney on matters of policy and procedure, and implements decisions; prepares and submits periodic managerial reports on organizational functions; acts for the District Attorney in the District Attorney's absence; assists in the preparation and monitoring of the budget; assists in the hiring of personnel and in developing performance evaluations; trains, directs and supervises attorney and non-attorney employees; trains law enforcement, other governmental agencies, and private citizens seeking the issuance of criminal and civil complaints, as authorized by law; files, negotiates, and tries criminal and civil cases; interviews witnesses on criminal and civil cases; advises and confers with the general public when information to which it is entitled to is sought; performs legal research; speaks to private and public organizations on matters relating to the department; reviews case dispositions; supervises Deputy District Attorney, Supervising, criminal and civil.
- Non-Profit Sector: Litigation Attorney at the National Environmental Law Center - The staff attorney will take responsibility for all aspects of NELC’s federal court litigation. Working in conjunction with more senior staff, the staff attorney will be responsible for case development, legal research and writing, drafting pleadings, discovery and motion practice, working with lay and expert witnesses, and preparation for and conduct of trials. Although supervision is always available, there will be ample and immediate opportunity for considerable individual responsibility.
- Private Sector: Associate Attorney - The responsibilities of an associate attorney vary depending on the office. In general, however, they help lawyers prepare for closings, hearings, trials and corporate meetings. They also assist with fact-checking, making sure that research is relevant to a case and that all the information put together for a case is true. Many associates attorney draft contracts, mortgages and separation agreements. Associate attorneys are the most entry-level positions for new law school graduates.
Job Listing Sites
- Law.com - Legal news with pre-law information, and job postings
- Hieros Gamos - Easily accessible law and government information, with specific sections devoted to employment and students
- The American Bar Association Center for Continuing Legal Education (ABA-CLE) - Quality law programs and resources of a national scope. Students contemplating law school can utilize the Pre-Law Toolkit., which includes listings of law publications, tip sheets, jobs, and links.
- JURIST - Legal news and real-time legal research service provided by the University of Pittsburgh School of Law
- The National Association for Law Placement, Inc. - NALP is dedicated to facilitating legal career counseling and planning, recruitment and retention, and the professional development of law students and lawyers
- FindLaw - FindLaw for Students provides information on paralegal programs and legal careers, pre-law discussion forums, pre-law organizations, law school admissions and more
- Martindale.com - An employment resource to help attorneys, lawyers, paralegals, law school students and legal professionals find legal jobs in law firms, corporations and other employers of legal talent from across the globe
- Chambers and Partners - Divides firms into bands based on the success and prestige of its practice areas
- Chambers Associate - Focuses on rankings based on Associate reviews
- Avvo- Offers ratings, reviews, and disciplinary records for lawyers in every state. Get free legal advice, find the right lawyer, and make informed legal decisions.
- St. Johns University
- Brooklyn Law School
- Columbia University
- Cornell University
- Duke University
- Emory University
- George Washington University
- Georgetown University
- Harvard University
- New York University
- Northwestern University
- Stanford University
- University of California--Berkeley
- University of California--Los Angeles
- University of Chicago
- University of Michigan--Ann Arbor
- University of Minnesota--Twin Cities
- University of Notre Dame
- University of Pennsylvania
- University of Southern California (Gould)
- University of Texas--Austin
- University of Virginia
- University of Washington
- Vanderbilt University
- Washington and Lee University
- Washington University in St. Louis
- Yale University