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Apply a Legal Education to an Engineering or Technical Career

The skills earned during law school can be sought-after traits at startups and engineering firms. 

Businessman smiling in meeting

Law school graduates interested in joining a startup should round out their resume with relevant classes and be proactive in their job search.

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Welcome to the latest installment of Law Admissions Q-and-A, a monthly feature of Law Admissions Lowdown that provides advice to readers who send in questions and law school admissions profiles.

If you have a question, email me for a chance to be featured next month. This week I answer questions about applying to a legal degree to engineering and technical fields.

[Learn how to promote your major on law school applications.]

Dear Shawn: I just finished my first year of law school and am interested in the tech startup industry, but I’m not seeking a role as an attorney. I still feel a J.D. degree will give me an advantage in the workforce because of the skills acquired during law school. I also took business classes as an undergraduate.

I was wondering if you knew what jobs were out there for someone with a J.D. wanting to enter the tech industry and how to market oneself in the field. -Starting Up

Dear Starting Up: Startups are a wonderful area in which recent law school grads can thrive and build on their skills.

There is no single job track in startups – it all depends on the company’s needs. Since you are interested in technology, I recommend taking some courses to round out your resume if you don’t already have that expertise.

The next thing I would do is explore organizations that pique your interest the most and research their legal needs. If listed on their website or LinkedIn, check out the list of employees and see if they are lacking a critical role.

[Consider these careers for law school grads outside the legal field.]

Once you have identified companies and their needs, don’t be afraid to cold call or email. Many small businesses do not have human resources departments and rely on word-of-mouth and referrals for their hiring needs.

For example, I know a law school grad who hated his job as a corporate lawyer and decided to pursue his passion in environmental work. It took time and effort, but he eventually landed a job at a small startup focused on solar energy.

He got the job because the place was full of environmental enthusiasts, but no lawyers. Environmental law is very complex and intricate, and he demonstrated what he could do if they hired him. They didn’t drag their feet in creating a role for him. -Shawn

Dear Shawn: I have been considering obtaining a law degree, but I’m not sure it is relevant for my future plans. I'm currently a licensed aircraft engineer in South America with 8 years of experience and have dreams of one day running my own business. Apart from that, I will either own my own airline or pursue the prospects of being a CEO for an airline.

I love aviation and I want to pursue law, but I'm not sure how that works coming from a strong engineering background. I would really appreciate your input and suggestions. -Frequent Flyer

Dear Frequent Flyer:

Law school applicants with engineering backgrounds are actually quite competitive in the admissions process. As long as the other components of your application, such as essays, recommendations and grades, are equally competitive, I don’t see a reason for you to doubt your admissions chances.

[Determine if law school is the right move for your goals.]

Additionally, there is high demand for employees who have both an engineering and legal background. However, since your ultimate goal is not related to law, it may not be a worthwhile investment for you.

If you’re excited about starting your own business and entrepreneurship, I suggest you research MBA degrees. An MBA prepares students for leadership and entrepreneurial roles, which could be a better fit for your goals. -Shawn