Pathways to the Profession

The Juris Doctor is a generalist degree and the license to practice law allows an attorney to practice in any specialty in which he or she can provide competent representation. To prepare students for the bar exam and provide them with a strong foundation of knowledge and skills for their professional careers, St. John’s requires candidates for the Juris Doctor degree to take at least five core elective courses from a list of ten, an advanced civil procedure course, and two writing experiences.

Nevertheless, the increasing complexity of legal practice and the demands by clients of profession-readiness by lawyers have led to increased specialization in the legal community. As a result, students should consider developing expertise in one or more career pathways.

This guide is intended to provide students with a series of well-trod pathways to the profession. It brings together the courses, experiential learning opportunities, and networking resources they will need to be profession-ready and succeed in their job searches in common pathways. These pathways are not set in stone; they can and should be adapted to individual students’ interests. For example, a student with an interest in white collar criminal defense should take courses, gain experience, and expand his or her professional network in both criminal law and corporate/securities law. Likewise, a student with an interest in international tax issues should chart a path that includes aspects of both the international practice and tax pathways.

Each pathway contains an introduction to the practice area, a list of courses, sample clinics and externship placements, and bar associations and other networking resources. The courses are broken up into four categories: foundation courses, which students should take early in their upper-level years; advanced electives, from which they should choose as many as possible; writing courses, many of which may satisfy the Advanced Practice Writing Requirement; and skills courses. Each pathway also contains a suggested schedule to follow.

Throughout their academic career, students should seek out the advice of the faculty members and career counselors in their areas of interest for further guidance.

This guide was a collaborative effort among faculty, administrators, and career development counselors. We hope that students find it useful in charting their path to the profession.