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J.D. Advantage: How a law degree helps non-lawyers

“We have a lot of regional firms in Baltimore, and they do a lot of regional hiring,” says Donald B. Tobin.” dean of the University of Maryland's Carey School of Law. (File photo)

University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law Dean Donald B. Tobin. (File photo)

Although most students at Maryland’s two law schools go on to hold jobs that require bar passage, a small but not insignificant percentage of Maryland law graduates wind up in so-called J.D. Advantage jobs, positions for which bar passage is not required but for which a juris doctor degree provides a distinct advantage.

Nearly 14% of 2018 graduates of the University of Baltimore School of Law were employed in J.D. Advantage jobs 10 months after graduation, while almost 22% of 2018 graduates of the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law held such jobs 10 months after they graduated, according to American Bar Association-required employment data provided on both law schools’ websites.

University of Maryland School of Law Dean Donald B. Tobin said the school encourages students to explore their interests, which can lead them to a traditional law path, such as litigation, or to policy work, such as that explored in the school’s health care clinic.

“In our public health clinic, for example, the students work in Annapolis (and do) a lot of policy work,” Tobin said, adding that he believes the University of Maryland law school attracts a relatively high percent of J.D. Advantage job-seekers, citing the school’s proximity to Washington and that city’s variety of public policy positions.

“I let students know that lawyers make a difference in the world, and that you can go use your law degree in so many areas,” Tobin said.

UB School of Law Assistant Dean Alyssia Fieo, who oversees the Law Career Development Office, said students in the evening program are often working toward a law degree to advance in their current field. (Photo courtesy of the University of Baltimore School of Law)

UB School of Law Assistant Dean Alyssia Fieo, who oversees the Law Career Development Office, said students in the evening program are often working toward a law degree to advance in their current field. (Photo courtesy of the University of Baltimore School of Law)

University of Baltimore School of Law Assistant Dean Alyssa Fieo, who oversees the school’s Law Career Development Office, said UB Law holds job panels at which alumni discuss jobs — including J.D. Advantage jobs — that might interest students, including positions in the federal government or the financial industry.

Fieo said that while UB’s law students are not separated into bar-passage-required and J.D. Advantage tracks, students in the evening program are often working toward a law degree to advance in their current field.

“Generally, I think we have both — students who really know what they want to do coming in, and others who are exploring their options, using their summers and internships/externships to engage during the semester,” Fieo said.

The percentage of J.D. Advantage job-holders has dropped over the past several years. Among 2015 graduates of UB Law, 26%, or 70 students, reported having such jobs. Meanwhile, among 2015 graduates of the University of Maryland law school, 25%, or 69 students, held J.D. Advantage jobs after graduation.

Tobin said law graduates with J.D. Advantage jobs frequently do policy work for nonprofits, while others work as lobbyists for government or trade associations. Law graduates can also find J.D. Advantage jobs in business and consulting, Tobin said, adding that several highly regulated areas of employment — such as health care and environmental policy — require an understanding of the law.

“If you’re thinking of going to work on Capitol Hill, in the state house, in state agencies or federal agencies and you’re not going to litigate but you’re going to be doing policy work, I would advise you to go to law school for it,” Tobin said, adding that he has worked in a variety of positions that would be considered J.D. Advantage.

 

 


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