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  • maggiemac

Your Guide to Exceptional J.D. (Dis)Advantage Jobs

Updated: Dec 17, 2023

So you got your juris doctor after three hazy, chaotic group-fever-dream years in law school? Congratulations! You must be so thrilled! You worked so hard* (*complained incessantly, napped way more than you should've after you essentially gave up taking notes after 2L, existed in a state of sheer panic knowing that at some point you'd have to open your email, cried and cried and only stayed in school for the plot and to make sure the dumbest kid in class didn't outdo you). You now deserve a position that reflects all that hard work* (*no matter what you do as an attorney, the paralegal does more and better and deserves your pay tbh tbh tbh).

Now, as someone with a J.D., you have four options post-graduation:

  1. You can take the bar - which is only hundreds of dollars, plus hundreds more for the expensive study aids that will feature hours of legal experts who will at some point say "I don't know. This is hell. You don't really need to know this in practice but you should be able to bullshit this on your test.", at least 8 weeks of pure isolation and self-hatred, and then only two six-hour days of straight testing surrounded by 400 of the most tightly wound Type As to ever assemble.

  2. You can not take the bar, never practice, but still call yourself a lawyer like some of our most venerable politicians (like IDK a certain disgraced congressman who almost became the third most powerful person in the country but lost out because he has the charm, charisma, and political acumen of a shriveled up dried worm ((no offensive to the worm community)))

  3. You could not take the bar and seek out a law-free life. YOU'RE FREE! RUN! RUN AWAY! RUN AS FAST YOU CAN TO THE LOVING ARMS OF WHATEVER YOUR BACHELOR'S DEGREE PROMISED YOU! What even was communications? It's time to finally find out!

  4. Take a gander at the magical world of J.D. advantage/J.D. preferred jobs.

I know what you're thinking. Maggie, didn't you take the bar and famously pass it after insisting that you wouldn't to the point that people were concerned that your threats to turn into a hermit were not at all threats? Sure, sure. But just because I *technically* am licensed to practice law does not mean that I'm not actively living in a state of delusion that our capitalist system will simply break and I'll just get to hobby all the live-long day. There are literally dozens of us! We exist. We did law school for the bit, took the bar for the bit, and truly never conceptualized that if one goes to law school and takes the bar that the logical aftermath would indeed be the practice of law. But maybe we're too busy practicing love? Practicing life? Practicing laugh? Have you ever thought of that?!

So this is your one-stop shop for all the opportunities opened to me and my fellow Esquire-ishs who have all the rigorous training of a lawyer and achieved the degree that we were promised is the most valuable acronym to possess in these United States:

Become A Corporate Big Boy

Starting off strong, I can't really offer you any concrete advice on this because I was only forced to learn Corporate Law against my will for the bar but it was all for naught because we didn't even have to write an essay on it. Ironically, we did have to write an essay about dog breeding contracts, the very thing I spent all summer telling my parents I could not assist them with. My vague understanding is that you can get a job in compliance, or as an analyst, or as a suit in the background of Succession. Oh, wait, what was that? Succession is over? Sorry, your only option is an extra in whatever Shonda Rhimes hot hotshot corporate espionage hottie mchottie show is about to be picked up starring a former Disney kid who is two decades younger than you. You will ultimately not do anything positive for the progress of mankind, but how many people get to do that, really? As the earth warms and the shareholders of your company get ungodly rich off their other investments in war and genocide profiteering, you at least can afford a nice suburban existence for your 2.5 kids. And isn't that really the American dream?

Become A Politician

You learned all about the wretched creation of our great experiment of democracy; why don't you put it into practice! As a politician, you can take your understanding of laws and share it with your colleagues who in NO WAY have any concept of law-making. Especially in a unnamed, gorgeous Midwestern state, you can make a real difference* (if you're a member of a certain ol' party) (*and a member of a certain race) (*and a member of a certain gender) (*and of a certain economic class). If any or none of these classifications appeal or relate to you, you certainly may apply, but only if you're ready for a Twitter troll to tell you your place is raising children or in the kitchen. Or steal yourself for slander from a state attorney general who will only get a slap on the wrist after negligently and/or intentionally exposing you to death and rape threats. These are all hypotheticals, of course. Being a politician is an okay job; just consistently call donors and network and nod and insist that people just need get out there and vote- even in a state that won't allow general public voting on issues like marijuana legalization and abortion because then special interests politicians would lose out to general consensus. Let the irony drift you off to sleep each night.

Become a Professor

You know the old saying, those who can, do; those that simply don't want to, write one syllabus and coast off of it for the next ten years. If you're a male, be kindly greeted by the academic institution of your choice with open arms and an aesthetic smoking-lounge-esque office. If you're a woman, be welcomed by being chronically underpaid, under-recognized, forced to be the chair of several committees that will keep you so busy that you can't get in the research that your male colleague (who may or may not have gotten his student pregnant) is able to do with uninterrupted research and writing thus catapulting his career while you are forced to organize staff birthdays or slog through bureaucratic molehills, have an office that you are certain is exposing you to some unknown variant of mold, be questioned if having a family is keeping you from your work while not having a family makes you an unlikeable shrew, and then read through RateMyProfessor feedback that calls you both "hot," "unfuckable," and/or "a bitch." Maybe be like one of my female law professors and read your death/rape threats out to the class, or another who was told her law class was "too political" by having students read judicial precedent that was considered good law for over 100 years. Sure, you now have to deal with some kind of hybrid setting where more than one student will pretend not to know how to work the "mute" button, but in return you may see your name in ink- in a byline under many people who contributed a single paragraph, buried in a footnote, spelled incorrectly.

Become A Vaguely Related Legal Professional

You never really wanted to practice law and simply wanted a 9-to-5 so become one of the many, many pillars of our legal system who will never, not once get the credit they deserve. Write all of a judge's decisions for them as a judicial clerk! Create all the content for lazy law students to pillage on LexisNexis or WestLaw! Keep the majority-white, elitist, and unfeeling institution of law alive and well as admission staff of a law school! Work in child advocacy, or healthcare, or education, or employment, knowing that at best, you didn't create the systemic problems that you are band-aid-ing. Keep your work at work and get to actually go home. It's not too bad at the end of the day, even if your peers who made a different trade-off will never understand.

Become Literally Anything Else

Ever want to become a sommelier? A teacher? A cheese-monger? A therapist? It's so close; only more and different schooling and licensing away!! They tell you your J.D. will only make you an even more attractive candidate and they wouldn't lie, right? Right? To paraphrase the infamous "Don't Be A Lawyer" song from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, no political regime goes after all the bespoke boutique owners first. Do a hard pivot and only bring up the authority of your J.D. at family functions when some weird great-uncle tries to argue that insurrection is actually "not a crime."

Become A Lawyer

Ahh yes. That's correct. After scouring and scouring the deepest and darkest "next page" of Indeed, LinkedIn, and ZipRecruiter, simply *give up*. Once Indeed starts sending you "Contract Work Updating the Sex Offender Registry" and you realized you're not even qualified to do that, it's time to get real. Your concept of livable salary has become worse and worse once your school loans repayments kick in ((I'M LOOKING AT YOU, JOE)). Does it help that the biggest, morally corrupt Nepo Baby Daddy's Boy advertised his associate salary to anyone who would listen despite the whole two points of GPA separating you? Nope, no it does not. So the siren call of a nice, fat paycheck beckons you to just start typing in "J.D." alone to see what pops up. Is a work-life balance really worth it? Do you really want to see the sky at 5:00 pm? Didn't you already exist in a state of total nerve-wracking anxiety for three years? What's another forty? It's true that you feel like you have no idea what you're doing and the buzzing threat of malpractice hangs over you like an aggressive mosquito, but don't all lawyers feel like that? And haven't you seen really bad attorneys? You know you won't be as bad as the ones who screw over their most-vulnerable immigrant clients, or sexually harass their all-female support staff, or IDK pee in bottles in their office despite choosing the biggest one next to the bathrooms for reasons still undetermined. If they could do it, and still pay for advertisements callings themselves "#1 highest rated attorney in the state", you surely can make it too...well for at least four good years before you burn out and are yet again Googling "J.D. preferred jobs" again.

   Finish That Damn Novel

Okay, and how dare you attack me like this??

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