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. Some firms may rtecruit through Columbia’s On-Campus Recruiting program. Some legal internships are only open to law students, so when looking for these positions check to see they are accepting applications from undergraduate or master’s students,. You can also 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.

What about the FBI, CIA, or the UN?

Students interested in Law may also be interested in working for organizations such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, or United Nations. The process for applying to positions to these agencies can be time intensive, so you want to start the process early (i.e. 9 months prior to when you would like 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. 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 keyword 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.

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 website has information about upcoming events and online resources.
  • The Division of Government Affairs serves as a 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