The relief of graduating from law school and awaiting bar results is an exciting yet, nerve-wracking experience for Juris Doctorate (J.D.) holders. The waiting period is tough because law graduates have finally “passed the burning sands” so to speak and are ready to practice law. However, these dreams are halted due to lack of the necessary licensure. Some J.D. holders find it difficult to obtain a job during this hiatus because they are either overqualified to be a legal secretary, yet, underqualified to be a law firm associate. This article will give insight to 3 jobs J.D. holders can do to bridge the gap between J.D. and Esquire.
- Judicial Clerkships
One opportunity available to J.D. holders are judicial clerkships. These jobs place J.D. holders in courts or law offices with the intent to provide hands-on legal experience while working under the supervision of judge. Most clerkships are a yearlong. Clerks perform a variety of tasks such as legal research and writing, proofreading, reference checking, and more.
Graduates in search of litigation experience can benefit from being trial clerks because they are able to get a personal view of the litigation process. Trial court clerks are responsible for assisting with discovery, settlement conferences, and trials
Graduates who have a passion for legal research and writing will enjoy working as an appellate clerk. The primary task of an appellate judicial clerk is to review the record from the trial court and correct any errors, review court briefs and applicable law, and draft either a memorandum of law or a draft opinion for the judge.
These clerkships are very valuable to J.D. holders because it affords them with great networking contacts and courtroom/litigation experience. Annual salaries range from $30,000 to $55,000.
- Document Review
J.D. holders can also obtain work as document reviewers. Reviewers examine computer-based documents relevant to pending litigation. Documents are uploaded to a database called Relativity in which reviewers examine documents for responsiveness, non-responsive, privilege, and confidentiality. Document reviewers are often attorneys, paralegals, or litigation support.
Some projects are tailored to attorneys only, while others are tailored to all three. However, a reviewers’ hourly rate will be determined by their classification. The common workweek ranges from 40 to 60 hours with overtime dependent on the client. Pay rates fluctuate between $25-$35 an hour. Most review jobs are on site; however, a few are remote. The duration of projects can run from as little as one week to several months. Graduates can be notified via email when a document review job is posted in their city or cities of their choice by subscribing to the website the posse list. The incentives of working as a reviewer are: the flexible hours, good pay, and valuable experience for new attorneys.
- Non-Profit Internships
Lastly, another way to stay busy while awaiting bar results, is to intern for nonprofit organizations. Although these jobs are typically unpaid, they are a wonderful way to make connections in one’s prospective field. Graduates looking to intern for a nonprofit can use idealist.org or volunteermatch.org. Idealist helps viewers narrow down internships based on their degree, paid or unpaid, or even by dialect. While, volunteer match on J.D. holders can get involved by creating a profile and apply for volunteer opportunities. Volunteers have an array of programs they can choose from such as Politics, Advocacy Human Rights, Children and Youth, Immigrants and Refugees, Woman and more.
Although the period between law school and the practice of law is rigid, there are jobs out there with great pay and/or experience.
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“Judicial Clerkship Guide.” Robert H. McKinney School of Law: Indiana University, 2017, mckinneylaw.iu.edu/careers/judicial-clerkships-guide.html.
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