The 10 Best Paying Career Alternatives For Law Grads

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This is part of our comprehensive ranking of The Best Law Schools in America.

The prospect of sinking $200,000 into law school and changing your mind about being a lawyer might be terrifying.

But you can still use your degree.

Law graduates go on to plenty of lucrative and interesting non-lawyer jobs.

Some of these positions—like Congress—might be a longshot, but you’ll be surprised at what you can do with your law degree.

10. Foreign Service Officer

Salary: Up to the high 50s to start, according to USAID.

Pros: Use your analytical and writing skills to help broker world peace.

Cons: High 50s, even just to start, might not be enough money for somebody with $200,000 in debt.

9. Private Investigator

Salary: In 2010, the median salary for private investigators was just $42,870, according to the Department of labour. However, careers site GlassDoor reported one private investigator's salary as $62,000.

And it could be assumed anybody engaging in 'corporate intelligence' might make more than investigators working for individuals.

Pros: According to one investigator interviewed by legal blog Above the Law, the job consists of fascinating work 'digging up interesting stories.'

Cons: Like many other alternatives, the pay will probably be less than BigLaw. And private Investigators work inconvenient hours, such as late nights, according to this E-How article.


8. Law librarian

Salary: The salary for law librarian ranges from $47,000, according to Glass Door, to as much as $90,000, according to the website Pay Scale.

Pros: If you work at a law school library, you may get the same kind of generous vacation as law professors, according to an article by attorney Sally Kane in About.com.

Cons: The pay is obviously less than lawyers and the work can be fast-paced and rigorous at a law firm, Kane said.

7. Legal recruiter

Salary: According to recent data from Salary.com, the median salary for legal recruiters in the U.S. is $81,855.

Pros: The job can be more flexible than practicing law, but one legal recruiter says it might not be a good idea for everybody.

Cons: The anemic economy makes life tough for everybody in the legal industry, not just lawyers, legal recruiter Jack Zaremski told Business Insider.

'The pursuit of any work that is creative or entreprenurial in nature is in my view a wiser choice than searching for work as a lawyer or legal recruiter,' Zaremski said.

6. Mediator

Salary: The Bureau of labour Statistics lumps together 'judges, mediators, and hearing officers' into one category and reports their 2010 median pay as $91,880.

Pros: There will likely always be work in this area, as conflict abounds and parties are always trying to avoid the costs of protracted litigation by seeking out-of-court mediation.

Cons: Handling conflict, day in and day out.

5. Jury consultant

Salary: According to Glass Door, jury consultants can earn up to $115,000 a year.

Pros: The job can benefit law grads with 'people skills' and insights into human behaviour.

Cons: The work is fast-paced, demanding, and may require extensive travel, according to this article in About.com by attorney Sally Kane.

4. Law firm consultant

Salary: According to the careers website Indeed.com, law firm consultants make an average of $83,000.

Pros: Law firm consultants have a varied work environment, autonomy, and the ability to travel to fun destinations, Jim Cotterman, a law firm consultant with Altman Weil, told Business Insider.

Cons: Your schedule can change all the time, and you have to spend a lot of time away from your family because of constant travel requirements, Cotterman said.

3. Lobbyist

Salary: Lobbyists salaries can vary widely, but Glass Door lists a salary as high as $104,000.

Pros: If you end up working for an organisation you care about, you can take refuge in the fact that you're working for a cause you believe in, this article in the Princeton Review points out.

Cons: Lobbyists have a pretty terrible reputation for bribing lawmakers.

2. Law professor

Salary: Law professors typically earn more than $100,000 a year, and as much as $158,000 a year, according to this survey of salaries on the careers site Glass Door.

Pros: Like all professors, law professors typically enjoy a great deal of freedom and prestige.

Cons: And like becoming a lawyer itself, competition to become a law professor is stiff.

1. Congress

Salary: $174,000

Pros: Being a Senator or a member of the U.S. House of Representatives is obviously prestigious and could even be your next step to becoming the president of the United States.

Cons: Your job security is subject to the whims of voters.

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