What Can You Do with a Juris Doctorate?
The most common and traditional career path for individuals with a Juris Doctor (JD) degree is to become an attorney or lawyer. However, a JD can also be applied to many different fields and is often offered as a dual degree with graduate programs in areas like business administration, regional planning, mass communication, social work, and public administration. These dual degree programs may open the doors to additional career opportunities, but even a traditional JD degree can be used in several career options besides the practice of law, including:
- Law professor
- Law librarian
- Arbitrator, mediator, or conciliator
Information for a Few JD Careers
Juris Doctor jobs typically include some component and/or knowledge of law and legal issues. Here we explore a few of the possible JD careers and what they involve.
Lawyers need to hold a bachelor's degree, JD degree, and pass bar exams (licensing exams) for their state. Lawyers are also typically required to participate in continuing legal education to stay updated on current law. Some lawyers may specialize in a particular type of law, such as environmental law, family law, tax law, or intellectual property law.
The primary responsibility of lawyers is to represent clients faced with various legal issues. They may work with individuals, government agencies, or other businesses to advise them on their legal options and help prepare a court case in their defense. These responsibilities may require lawyers to perform tasks like:
- Writing legal documents, such as contracts and lawsuits
- Researching and interpreting laws and regulations
- Preparing facts in written and verbal form for court
- Talking with clients, judges, and other lawyers involved in a case
- Overseeing paralegals and other support staff
Postsecondary teachers usually need a doctoral degree in the field they are teaching and/or field-appropriate experience. For students wishing to teach law at the postsecondary level, this likely means holding a JD degree and working in law for a few years.
Postsecondary educators are responsible for teaching college students in their field of expertise and are usually required to conduct research and write publications within their field for the university. The responsibilities of a law professor may include:
- Teaching multiple courses in law
- Preparing lesson plans
- Working with students outside of class and answering questions
- Grading papers, exams, and other assignments
- Staying updated on current laws and cases
Most librarians only need a master's degree in library science, but librarians who specialize in a particular area typically need a degree in that field. For example, a law librarian would need a JD. Some states also require librarians in public libraries to hold state certification in the field, depending on the position.
Librarians help patrons find the information they need. In the case of law librarians, this usually means working in law school libraries or law firms and helping law students, lawyers, judges, and other law professionals find legal resources. Other job duties may include:
- Organizing materials in existing collections
- Researching new materials for acquisition
- Utilizing library databases
- Purchasing computers and other resources for the library
- Overseeing library budgets and staff
How Much Can You Earn with a Juris Doctorate?
According to PayScale.com, the median annual salary for a Juris Doctor degree was $89,000, as of November 2019. This salary could vary greatly with factors like job title, employer, and years of experience.
What Can I Expect from a Juris Doctor Degree Program?
JD programs usually take three years to complete and help provide students with skills and knowledge in legal writing, civil procedure, and various types of law, including constitutional, property, and corporate law. These degree programs typically go into much greater detail than other law-related programs, like a constitutional law master's degree or graduate certificate. Many of these JD programs offer hands-on learning experience in law through externships, clinics, and more.
Students interested in these degree programs might consider checking out resources like these online courses in immigration law to get an idea of what their coursework might entail.