The legal field is broad and encompasses the work of many individuals. While attending law school and becoming a lawyer is certainly one way of working in the field, there are many other options for graduates. Additional careers related to law include: court reporters, forensic scientists/psychologists, judges, lobbyists, law enforcement officers, legal/policy analysts, mediators, and paralegals/legal assistants.  

Legal Careers Job Search

For full time, entry level legal analyst or paralegal positions, larger law firms and financial institutions will typically start their recruiting as early as the fall semester for May graduates and late fall/early winter for their summer interns. Firms will often recruit through Columbia’s On Campus Recruiting program on LionSHARE. Some legal internships are only open to law students, so either look for those positions accepting applications from undergraduate or master’s students, or target law departments in organizations of interest or smaller to mid-sized law firms that do not have a formalized program in place. If you’re exploring the possibility of becoming a lawyer, working in a firm in the communications department, recruiting department, or professional development department, is a way to get your foot in the door.

The process for applying to positions at agencies like the FBI, CIA, or UN, can be time intensive, so you want to start the process early (i.e. 9 months prior to start). Smaller and midsized firms, as well as many government agencies and non profits, will hire on an as-needed basis, meaning that they are typically looking for applicants to can begin work immediately. That being said, as with most fields, networking is key to securing a position, and research is essential to find firms, organizations, and agencies that are a match for your interests. 

Center for Career Education Resources

  • LionSHARE Under the job search tab, try key word searching the words ‘law’ or ‘legal’ or select ‘law,’ ‘legal services,’ or ‘government’ in the employer industry menu. You can also use the Employer Directory tab to search for lists of organizations that have posted in the past. Examples of organizations that have recruited through LionSHARE for legal positions include Lawyers Alliance for New York, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the British Embassy.         
  • CCE’s Fall and Spring Career Fairs, Engineering Consortium Career Fair (Fall), and Startup Career Fair (Spring), Highlights of past participants include: CIA, US Department of Justice, US Department of State, New York District Attorney, Cadet Corps, Legal Momentum, and the National Security Agency.
  • Vault and WetFeet are excellent career resources into industries and organizations. Read Vault’s View from the Top: Q & A with Law Firm Leaders and Wetfeet’s Careers in Government and Careers in Nonprofit. 
  • If you’re considering attending graduate school, review our tip sheet on factors to consider and resources.
  • Read profiles and advice from Columbia alumni who worked or are working in the legal sector:

Kristin Lorieo, Senior Editorial Coordinator, Bingham McCutchen
June Middleton, Attorney and Counselor at Business Law, J.W. Middleton, PLLC
Don Jensen, Senior Fellow, Columbia College

Columbia Resources

  • Student organizations including Columbia Undergraduate Law ReviewStudent Governing Board.
  • The Office of Preprofessional Advising helps Columbia College and Columbia Engineering students and alumni identify and refine their interests in professional school, including law. The office hosts a listserv with information and opportunities as well as online resources.
  • The School of General Studies offers current students and alumni the opportunity to meet with a pre-law advisor for questions regarding the law school admissions process. The web site has information about upcoming events and online resources.
  • The Division of Government Affairs serves as liaison between Columbia and government at the federal, state, and city levels. As a service to Columbia and Barnard students, the Columbia University Office of Government and Community Affairs provides assistance to undergraduates interested in spending the summer interning in either the local or Washington, DC office of a United States Congressperson.

External Resources

Professional Associations

Job Boards

Additional Resources