Alternative Job Search
Some of our students prefer to take their law degrees and go into non-traditional careers. Given that these paths are not legal in nature and differ from one another, we cannot provide one set of steps for such a search. However, here are some general guidelines.
Different search tips and resources apply to different jobs, but all of the non-law jobs share these commonalities:
- Networking assumes far greater importance in seeking non-law firm jobs.
- It is absolutely essential to research the companies or organizations that interest you and for which you have relevant qualifications before you contact employers.
- The hiring cycle for non-law jobs does not typically match first- and second-year law recruiting, leaving you with high-risk choices to make.
- Work experience prior to law school is extremely important to the success of your job search. Employers in professional services firms are accustomed to hiring MBA students who have three or four years of work experience before returning for their degrees. The decision-making maturity and the industry knowledge this provides lower the risk of considering a candidate whose training is “alternative.” If you have had little or no experience, the bar could be very high.
- Persistence is a key attribute for those who strongly desire non-law employment. That may mean accepting rejection, not only from law firms, but also from business organizations. It may mean negotiating for extensions or even letting go of a law firm offer, when no other offer is certain.
- Classmates and students in other classes may have worked in many of these fields prior to law school matriculation. Network amongst your peers to identify these students and ask them to spend time with you discussing their previous employment.
- University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School alumni may be willing to spend a short time with you to talk about what they do, and give their advice about career interests you are exploring. It is crucial to prepare for this type of conversation by researching their firm’s website, understanding a bit about what the alum does in his or her work, and having some idea of what function or division interests you and why. Have questions in mind based on your research about their firm and their jobs.
- If you are interested in learning more about some of the more popular non-law opportunities check out our online resources below.
- ART: Exploring Legal Specialties and Alternative Careers
- Conducting An Investment Banking Job Search
- Alternative Career Resources
- Think Tank Information
- JD Advantage Guide (NALP 2020)
- Cybersecurity, Privacy, and Data Protection Careers Checklist (NALP)
- Compliance Careers Checklist (NALP)
If you are interested in a non-traditional career path, please speak with a counselor in CP&P.