The Law as a Career

By Ellie Brockman

Top Practice Environments

1. Law Firms
  • Most law specialists are employed in private practice

2. Corporate Legal Departments

  • Includes corporations, banks, insurance companies, real estate firms that operate for commercial gain
  • 8% of lawyers in private industry

3. Government

  • County: district attorneys, public defenders, county counsel
  • Federal: attorneys, legal secretaries, paralegals, prosecutors, clerks, court reporters
  • 8% of lawyers

4. Judiciary

  • Includes judges, clerks, and deputies
  • 3% of law specialists

5. Public Interests

  • Work for non-profit organizations, legal aid services, clinics, charities
  • Service low income people

6. Education

  • Law school professors, deans


5 Highest Paying Legal Careers

1. Trial Lawyer

  • Litigators who handle high paying, high profile, and high stakes cases
  • $11-40 million

2. Chief Legal Officer

  • Head law department corporations
  • Bigger the corporation, bigger the salary
  • $467,100

3. Judge

  • Local judge average $110,220
  • Federal judge average $155,756

4. Law School Professor

  • Ranked among best paying jobs by Forbes
  • Varies by region and school
  • Need high qualifications
  • $113,691-$242,500

5. Litigation Support Director

  • Tech savy legal professionals with degrees in business
  • $70,882

Legal Internships

  • An increasing number of law schools, paralegal programs, etc, require completion of an internship as a pre-requisite to graduation
  • Internships involve placing students in law offices, courts, and public interest organizations with the goal of providing real world legal experience under the guidance of faculty members, licensed attorneys, and sitting judges

Specialty: District Attorney

  • Represents government in the prosecution of criminal defenses
  • Elected or appointed official
  • Highest officeholder in the legal department of jurisdiction (generally the county)
  • Supervises a staff
  • Created through the Judiciary Act of 1789