What would you do? Not using higher degree (J.D.) but employed?

posted 3 years ago in Career
Post # 3
1168 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

@lawyerchick13:  hang in there. Wait until you hear if you passed the bar, I think that will help your chances of snagging a job.

I think working always looks better than not working. I would apply to whatever you want. Just because it does not utilize your education, does not mean it cant pay your bills (and if you have- student loans) or make you happy!

Post # 4
1528 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2015

As a lawyer who took a job that is sort of related to the legal field but definitely not the lawyer job I was expecting (and sort of loves it anyway), I would say take anything that comes. Experience is better than no experience.

For the record, I was totally in your shoes. Years post law school with no interviews or prospects. A job fell into my lap and I took it. No regrets. 

Post # 5
1988 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2015

I’m not from the USA but I know EXACTLY how you feel! I sat for the bar and passed the written part but here, the actual exam comes in two parts and I have yet to pass the face to face “grilling” (it’s in December). 

I suppose I could apply for jobs outside of the legal field but it’s not why I put so much time, effort and money into graduating from law school and finishing my 2-year internship with stellar recommendations to just quit now. It sucks and I’m penniless but I’m confident that once I pass the bar, things will get better. And so they will for you, I’m sure! 

Hang in there! We’re almost there, girl! 

Post # 6
3570 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

DEFINITELY TAKE IT!  I passed two bars 5 years ago and have not landed a lawyer job. The longer time passes without a good job, the less marketable you become.  Getting your bar results will not improve your job prospects, I promise you. 

Post # 7
122 posts
Blushing bee

I don’t have a J.D., but I have another profession-specific graduate degree that I’m not using directly. And I feel great about it. I’m earning a fair amount more than the people I went to school with, who are all competing for the same few entry-level positions in our field. And I do use my degree, it’s just not in a licensed job that requires this degree specifically. I use the knowledge I gained every day.

I know at my old company, we had several J.D.s on staff who weren’t practicing. They were writing content for the company, and educating clients on legislation. There are definitely ways to use an important degree without following the expected path. And if one of these other jobs might even pay better than what you’d expect on the traditional career path, then hurrah!

I don’t know how it applies to your situation, but I figure I can always try getting a job IN my actual field later on, if I want. But for now, I’m thrilled with what I have.

Post # 8
23 posts
  • Wedding: October 2014

@lawyerchick13:  TAKE IT. We all know the legal market sucks. I didn’t particularly go to law school super gung ho about being a lawyer, but there is definitely that little bit of cred that you want to have by telling people that you’re a lawyer. Especially people who know you went to law school. But if you can get a good salary with chances for growth, take! This doesn’t mean that you’re absolutely out of the legal field forever, and honestly, I know many lawyers who want out. You might find positions later that are in house or even a firm who needs your specific areas of expertise (after you get some, haha). 

Post # 9
355 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

It’s much easier to hunt for your dream job or a job in your field when you have the financial security of a job.  It’s also looks better on your resume to be employed even if it’s not in the field as opposed to trying to explain months of unemployment.


If you get the offer, take the job.  For all you know it may be a job you end up loving. If that’s not the case (or if you don’t get the offer), start a conversation with your career center at your law school or undergrad university (typically they will help alums as well as current students). 

Post # 10
118 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

I was in a similar position and ended up taking a quasi-legal job. They were only hiring JDs but it was definitely not practicing. I was pretty unhappy there for a year and a half, but it paid the bills and was what I needed to do. I applied pretty consistently for jobs from about six months in until May of this year, so 2 years post-graduation, when I landed a dream legal job. I am so happy here now, and I’m glad I stuck with it. It will all work out. 

If you can’t afford to work for free or through some sort of stipend thing that your law school does, (and who can, those programs are obnoxious in big cities like NYC or DC), I would suggest you take whatever comes, and continue looking for legal jobs.

Applying for jobs is miserable and demoralizing, but if you stick with it, something WILL pan out for you. Things really do pick up once everyone finds out about the bar, so don’t give up hope!! 


Post # 11
1229 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: April 2012 - Chateau Briand

I would take the non-legal job. Since you don’t know if you passed yet, if you have passed it will still be months before you are admitted (and trust me, some lawyer jobs will ask when you expect to be admitted and would rather someone who is closer to their admit date). I was “lucky” enough to be admitted three months after I found out I passed but I had to rush to get everything in (its a lot of paperwork so if you havent started filling out what you can right now, I would suggest doing so) and it can be a while before you even have a character and fitness interview date. Good luck! 


Post # 12
2576 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 2013

@lawyerchick13:  I’m a law school drop-out, but returned to my finance/accounting career when I realized law wasn’t for me. However, I have seen both the legal and non-legal side of the business coin. For these jobs that you are getting interviews for, have you researched these companies? Do they have a legal department that you could maybe lateral into once you get your Bar results? Definitely do your research (which I am sure you did as you did 3 years of hell-errr-law school 🙂 ) – the bigger companies are more likely to have a legal department whereas the smaller companies may make YOU their legal department. Just a thought.

Post # 13
1869 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

definitely take it…..no one says you have to stay there forever

your other thread mentioned issues at home bc you couldnt find work sounds like its better to be working than not 


Post # 14
965 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2014

If you aren’t getting ANY interviews in the legal area, you are either applying to the wrong jobs, or your resume needs work. Contact career servies at your Undergrad or Law School and have them review your resume and cover letters with you and give you pointers. Then make sure you are applying for jobs you are qualified for. Just because you have a JD, doesn’t mean you have the expirience. WHere did you intern? Start there. If you didn’t intern, maybe you should, as that is how most Law students get their first jobs.

Don’t settle for just anything unless you absolutely need to. If you are living off credit cards, unable to pay your rent, or skipping necessities, then maybe you should get a part time job to tide you over while you look for legal work.

Post # 15
496 posts
Helper bee

@lawyerchick13:  If you are really in NY why aren’t you doing any contract work? I know document review sucks but it is basically what all of us marginally unemployed attorneys have to do at some point or another. 

Also join the Possee List for upcomong projects. Sign up with Hudson, Special Counsel and whatever other attorney temp agencies exist.

What law school did you graduate from?

Maybe work retail with flexible hours i.e. you work weekend or bar tend and also volunteer at a legal clinic to get expereince. I know the BK bar and the NY bar would have tons of volunteer opportunities and they train you.


Post # 16
496 posts
Helper bee


“If you aren’t getting ANY interviews in the legal area, you are either applying to the wrong jobs, or your resume needs work. “

This actually is NOT true. I have a great job as an attorney but I can tell you that unless you went to a top school or graduated top of your class, the job market for lawyers is BRUTAL.  I am sure starbucks gets a lot of unemployed lawyers as workers.

op= Also, try USAJOBS and go for the smaller agencies. If you are in NY, then you would be applying to the local offices and there might be less competition than for the jobs in DC. Also the part where they say Knowledge, Skills and Abilities has to acutally match your resume. Just reword it. And when address them in your cover letter (get a book from the library on how to apply to govt)

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