According to employment statistics on Drake University's School of Law website, 16 percent of the Des Moines, Iowa, school's alumni work in business fields nine months after graduation, and the website of the Boston University School of Law says 17 percent of its 2009 graduates working in law and business began their careers in academia and while 6 percent worked in business.
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Sometimes, a school's relationship with a nonlegal employer can create opportunities for students, according to Sandra Mans, assistant dean of the career center at Albany Law School. A large financial services firm started by an alumnus hires one to four Albany graduates each year, she says, and 68 alumni currently work at the company.
"Other recent graduates are pursuing accounting firms, legislative positions, investor services, publishing houses, compliance and claims jobs, and court analyst roles," Mans says. "Salaries at these positions range from $43,000 to $105,000."
Milan Dalal, who holds a J.D. from Boston College Law School, landed a job at a prominent Boston law firm, where he says starting annual salaries are $160,000—well above the high end of Mans's range. But he left the firm after a year to accept a job as legislative director ($76,000 annual salary) in the office of Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.).
Many Capitol Hill staffers are J.D.s, according to Dalal, who says his position fulfills his passion for public service and offers him the perspective of "literally writing the laws that others will then apply." Though annual salaries for jobs such as his could start at $60,000 for J.D.s, Dalal encourages aspiring public servants to earn a J.D., because he says it can help people rise more quickly through the ranks of seniority.
Vada Dillawn, principal and founder of the Austin, Texas-based firm Dillawn & Clark PR, says she was surprised to find that public relations was a field where "the skills of advocacy, creative story telling, and good writing skills rule."
Dillawn, who holds a J.D. from South Texas College's law school, says her legal background helps her navigate copyright and patent law topics and advise a Malaysian client on U.S. trademark law. And she's also found the field to be profitable.
"Billing rates per hour start at $125 and go up, which is very comparable to billing rates for new attorneys in Texas," she says.
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