Prepared by the Career Planning staff of Career Services at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Editorial assistance and additional information provided by The University of Tennessee College of Law. (2005) UTK is an EEO/AA/Title VI/Title IX/Section 504/ADA/ADEA Employer.
Corporate Practice: Employers
Any large corporation (largest number of attorneys are at corporate headquarters)
Corporate Practice: Strategies
Corporate office summer clerkships and entry level positions are rare. Usually only experienced lawyers are hired by corporations. Develop tolerance for bureaucratic procedure. An undergraduate major in business, particularly accounting or finance, is helpful.
Federal Government: Employers
- Most government branches have legal counsel
- Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps for all branches of the military
Federal Government: Strategies
Get involved with an internship or co-op program with the federal government to get a foot in the door. New lawyers frequently go to court and litigate sooner; experience gained here can be valuable to private firms later. Government work offers a variety of practice opportunities from criminal to contracts.
Judicial Clerkship: Areas & Employers
Areas – Judicial Clerkships
- Federal Court
- State Court
Federal Courts of Appeal and District Court (trial) Judges and Magistrates, Bankruptcy and Administrative Law Judges State Courts of Appeal and Trial Level Judges Federal and State Court Clerkships for Collective Judges in a Court.
Judicial Clerkship: Strategies
High academic achievement is emphasized by State and Federal judges; Federal judges usually require top 10% or 15% class rank. Clerkships can be a stepping-stone to other legal areas and provide many benefits for future career opportunities. For U.S. Supreme Court, applicants must be top law graduates with one to two years clerking at lower Federal Court. Moot Court participation in regional and national competitions is helpful. Law review membership, as an indication of writing ability, is highly valued and emphasized at all court levels.
Politics: Areas & Employers
Areas – Politics
- Lobbying/Government Relations
- Legislative Positions
- Trade and professional associations
- Political Action Committees
- Law firms
- Public interest advocacy groups
- Congressional representatives at national, state and local government
A service-oriented attitude is helpful. Learn to enlist the help of others. Clerkship or summer associate positions with law firms providing lobbying services provide good experience. Demonstrate an interest in politics through your undergraduate major, active campaigning or research papers/articles. Obtain law firm experience. Acquire superior writing skills. Develop a pleasing personality, enthusiasm and high energy level. Show ability to work with people and good communication and organizational skills. Consider earning a Master’s of Public Administration.
Private Practice: Employers
- Large multi-office firms
- Medium-size firms
- Small firms
- Legal clinics
- Other private legal services
Private Practice: Strategies
- Acquire excellent research and writing skills. Obtain clerkships or internships.
- Large and medium-size firms frequently emphasize grades and class rank and value law review and moot court experience.
Public Interest Law: Areas & Employers
Areas – Public Interest Law
- Legal Aid Services
- Public Defender Offices
- Public Interest Groups
- Federal, state & local government
- Private groups contract
- Nonprofit and public interest organizations
- Law firms practicing public interest law
Public Interest Law: Strategies
- Gain supervised work experience in an area through summer internships.
- Demonstrate a desire to help the economically disadvantaged and show an interest in law as a means of change. Volunteer for non-profit organizations that serve a wide range of people.
- Law schools
- Business schools
- Undergraduate departments of History and Political Science
- Paralegal schools
- Obtain several years of experience in private practice or government agency.
- The LLM degree and an outstanding academic record are required for law school teaching. Teaching allows for more flexibility of time. Some lawyers teach on an adjunct basis.
State & Local Government: Areas & Employers
Areas – State & Local Government
- Criminal Prosecution
- Civil Law
- District Attorney’s Office
- Attorney General’s Office
- Attorney General’s Office
- State agencies, commissions, boards, executive and legislative office staff
- Local agencies and commissions
- City and county law offices
State & Local Government: Strategies
Take essential courses related to criminal law, criminal procedure, constitutional law and evidence. Participate in a criminal clinical program. Obtain summer positions in a prosecutor’s office or a criminal litigation office or private firms practicing criminal law. Civil law deals with a broad range of subjects other than criminal matters and provides for a wide variety of functions including the opportunity to work with private lawyers and a variety of public officials. A demonstrated interest in public issues and completion of related internships are helpful.
Patent & Copyright Law: Employers
- Law firms (specialized)
- U.S. Patent & Trademark Office
Patent & Copyright Law: Strategies
This highly specialized area usually requires technical, science or engineering degree. These lawyers help protect clients’ claims to copyrights, inventions, software, etc.
Energy Law, Natural Resources, & Environmental Law: Employers
- Law firms
- Federal agencies (especially Department of Energy)
- Environmental compliance services companies
- State agencies
- Regulatory Commission
Energy Law, Natural Resources, & Environmental Law: Strategies
This area involves rights to resources including those in the earth and dangers in production of energy as well as transportation, taxation, patents and government regulation. An undergraduate major in environmental science, agriculture, engineering or science may be good preparation.
Financial Planning, Investment Banking, Estate Planning: Employers
- Bank trust departments
- Brokerage firms
- Insurance companies
- Development offices for preparatory schools, hospitals and universities
Financial Planning, Investment Banking, Estate Planning: Strategies
Insurance “Estate Planning” positions require interest and ability in sales. Bank trust department positions are good for those who do not want to litigate or be confrontational. An undergraduate major in accounting or finance may be helpful.
Legal Publishing / Journalism: Employers
- Legal publishers
- Print and electronic media
Legal Publishing / Journalism: Strategies
Exhibit interest in writing, research and editing for publishers. For national media, gain experience covering the law and politics.
Law Firm Administration: Employers
Law Firm Administration: Strategies
Handle office management (e.g. work flow), business development, clerk and attorney recruitment, clerkship programs, finances and human resources in a law firm.
Higher Education Administration: Employers
- Law schools
- Universities and colleges
Higher Education Administration: Strategies
Serve as a Dean or Director of Academics, Admissions, Career Services, Records, Alumni Affairs, Development, etc. in law schools. Work in judicial affairs, pre-law advising or other undergraduate student support services.
Law Librarianship: Employers
Law Librarianship: Strategies
Masters in Library or Information Science, in addition to a law degree, may be required for some positions.