Working on Wall Street, in small and solo practices, and in the nonprofit sector, Rutgers Law graduates serve in the U.S. Senate, on the New Jersey Supreme Court, and as corporate counsel to the Fortune 500. While the professional paths for Rutgers Law graduates are wide-ranging, a single attitude prevails among them: winning, determined, without an ounce of entitlement.
Exploring career options and finding a path that fits is a critical part of the job search process. Research practice settings and areas through:
- summer and school-year positions;
- pro bono opportunities and externships;
- talking to professors and alumni;
- attending professional development programs and practice panels;
- joining bar associations and participating in the mentor programs.
- Banking & Finance
- Children's Law/Juvenile Justice
- Intellectual Property
- Labor & Employment
- Real Estate
- Trusts & Estates
by Jacob Russell, Assistant Professor
Business lawyers are trusted counselors. They advise entrepreneurs on starting companies and raising money to do business; they negotiate deals between companies that want to merge; they provide advice on corporate governance, compliance, and any and every problem or question that might arise in the course of doing business. Business law -- sometimes called transactional or corporate law -- takes many forms and has many specialties. In all cases, business lawyers are called upon not just to use their legal skills, but to understand the business, strategic, and financial goals of a company, and to help advance those goals through their advice.
Like litigators, business lawyers are advocates for their clients, but corporate practice is very different from litigation. Transactional law is not typically conducted in the shadow of an adverserial court process, and the work is often more collaborative. When two companies merge, for instance, each side's lawyer zealously represents its own interests -- but a successful merger will almost always involve collaboration, cooperation, and give-and-take. This attracts many people to the practice. Transactional lawyers, whether at firms or in house, often are utility players, called on to help a company with a new or unanticipated issue. At the same time, corporate lawyers often develop deep substantive knowledge of the law in a particular area -- like securities regulation, which governs how companies raise money, or mergers and acquisitions, the law and tactics relating to how companies combine or purchase other companies.
Jay Mitchell, who wrote an excellent short book called Picturing Corporate Practice, puts it this way: "Corporate lawyers do basically two things. First, we look at situations and offer our thoughts. A client seeks advice; we study the problem and reportb ack. Second, we create plans (for a transaction, or new corporate structure) and then help document and carry out the plan. In each case, we facilitate decision-making about complex situations, and we create tangible products that reflect and implement the decisions. In each case, we help clients get from (current) state A to (better) state B."
Because corporate practice typically isn't the subject of TV dramas, law students may be less familar with the rewarding opportunities available. Some things you can do to learn more:
- Read the business section of a newspaper -- the business section of the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, or the Financial Times. The New York Times DealBook section, and in particular its "Deal Professor" column (https://dealbook.nytimes.com/category/columnists/deal-professor/), will give you a taste of many of the types of issues corporate lawyers are engaged in today. In addition, learning to read business news is a valuable and important skill -- the best business lawyers are able to anticipate coming trends and issues and proactively advise their clients.
- Take courses in business law subjects. The law school offers a Certificate Program in Corporate and Business Law; whether or not you decide to pursue the certificate, the description of that program will give you a list of the types of courses you should consider: http://cclg.rutgers.edu/certificate-program/. Many students start with Business Organizations or Securities Regulation. The law school also offers clinics that might be relevant.
- Consider a joint JD-MBA, or at least taking business school courses (or law school courses when offered) on subjects like basic finance and accounting. Although business lawyers are called on for their legal and analytical skills, not their financial or accounting acumen, the best lawyers will understand the business context in which their client operates. You’re absolutely capable of learning more than enough about those subjects to set yourself apart from most lawyers, and firms and clients will take note.
- Attend events on corporate law at the law school; the Center for Corporate Law and Governance (http://cclg.rutgers.edu) puts these on throughout the year. In addition to being a good networking opportunity, the events will give you a sense of prominent current issues in corporate practice. There is also a student group, active on both the Newark and Camden campus, for students with an interest in the area.
- Speak to practitioners and to law school faculty in the business law field. Ask them what they like about the practice area, what skills and personalities make someone suited to that area, and what courses were most helpful to them.
- Read resources on careers in the field. A good overview to the types of skills business lawyers need is Jay Mitchell's short career guide called Picturing Corporate Practice. For descriptions of specialty areas within business law -- like project finance, securities regulation, investment funds, corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions -- an excellent resource is Major Lindsey & Africa's "Law Firm Practice Area Summary" (https://www.mlaglobal.com/~/media/Images/Allegis/MLAGlobal/Imported/LawFirmPracticeAreaSummarypdf.pdf). The MLA guide will also give you a sense of the types of personality traits that may incline you to a particular area.
- If you go to a law firm following your 1L or 2L summer, even if you are primarily there to do litigation, consider asking if they have a corporate project you can work on. Many thriving corporate lawyers entered law school without really knowing anything about transactional practice, but after trying a few assignments, realized it was a much better match for them than litigation. The best way to find out is to give it a try.
by Michael A. Carrier, Distinguished Professor
Intellectual property (IP) and information policy more generally are robust and growing fields that include areas such as patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, right of publicity, entertainment, software, fashion, media, privacy, unfair competition, and other areas. Attorneys can find themselves in court or discovery on high-stakes litigation (on music, movies, art, books, software, logos, etc.), prosecuting patents or obtaining trademarks at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, counseling clients on how to best protect their valuable creations, or entering into license agreements with competitors.
Depending on the level of scientific background, students often pursue one of two options. Those with science degrees are able to take the patent bar exam, which you need to practice before the Patent Office. Small patent-focused firms typically require a science background and the patent bar (taken either during law school or immediately afterwards). But even without a scientific background, there are many options! Students can consider practicing copyright, trademark, privacy, data, and other similar areas with law firms in the area, as many Philadelphia-based and NJ firms have practices covering these fields. In addition, other parts of the country have active practices in the entertainment and music industries (NY, LA) and with government regulations (DC).
One way to stand out from the crowd is to follow developments in the field and write short blog posts for http://riipl.rutgers.edu/. Other relevant websites are listed below. It’s also crucial to network. There are a range of events where you can learn how IP law is practiced today and meet some of the leaders of the community. Examples are listed below, with two important examples being the Benjamin Franklin American Inn of Court and Philadelphia Intellectual Property Law Association. The first order of business is to join RIPLA, the student organization at Rutgers. Email PAUL ST. MARIE (firstname.lastname@example.org) to join.
Below you will find information on Rutgers courses, IP organizations, and resources.
Rutgers Law School offers courses covering IP and information more broadly. “Traditional” IP law encompasses various forms of intangible property, such as patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Information law also encompasses privacy law, media law, advertising law, free speech, and Internet law.
Intellectual Property Courses
All lawyers can benefit from exposure to intellectual property law, and our Introduction to Intellectual Property course provides a basic overview of the fundamentals of copyright, patent, and trademark law. Our introductory course is also helpful to students planning to specialize in a particular field of intellectual property, as it explores the relationships between the various IP regimes. Note that the Introduction to Intellectual Property course is not a prerequisite for taking more advanced IP courses, and that it may be taken simultaneously with other IP classes. Introduction to Intellectual Property is offered every year.
Our more advanced IP courses offer deeper explorations of specific regimes of intellectual property. Trademark examines state and federal trademark registration and litigation, as well as related unfair competition doctrines. Copyright explores federal copyright law in detail, including recent developments in digital copyright law. Patent Law introduces fundamental patent law concepts. Patent Litigation focuses on the procedural and substantive law of the Federal Circuit. Transactional Intellectual Property is a skills-oriented class focused on IP-related business transactions. The Intellectual Property Practicum is also a skills-oriented class focused on simulating a range of IP-related legal services. Legal seminars on specific topics are often offered as well. Various IP seminars can be useful to students seeking to strengthen their research and writing skills, as well as broaden their knowledge of contemporary issues. The Intellectual Property: Current Issues seminar is typically offered every other year.
Information Law Courses
Rutgers Law also offers a broader range of courses on information law and policy. Digital Privacy Law explores cutting-edge issues relating to consumer privacy, government surveillance, national and foreign privacy statutes, and conflicts between privacy and free speech, and between privacy and commerce. Media Law focuses on the laws of media communications, including news gathering and journalism. Advertising Law explores the regulation of advertising at the state and federal levels. Freedom of Expression explores the constitutional law doctrines protecting free speech under the First Amendment and the laws of other jurisdictions. Entertainment Law explores the various legal issues that arise in the entertainment industries, such as film and music production.
Students hoping to practice in the field of intellectual property should acquaint themselves with the broader range of laws that affect businesses. Courses such as Business Organizations, Bankruptcy, and Business Torts are good choices. Students should also consider Antitrust, as competition issues frequently arise in IP, and Advanced Antitrust, which has a heavy IP focus covering patent trolls, smartphones, Google, and the pharmaceutical industry. Classes that focus on statutes, including Statutory Construction, also can be very helpful, since most of intellectual property and information law is statutory.
To be successful in IP and information law (and the legal profession generally), you need to stay abreast of current issues, establish networks of contacts, and learn the landscape of legal practice. We strongly encourage students who hope to practice information law to participate in IP-related clubs and student events and to take advantage of reduced rates for student membership in regional IP associations. Your first order of business should be to join Rutgers Intellectual Property Legal Association (RIPLA)…
“RIPLA is a student-run organization within Rutgers Law – Camden dedicated to making students aware of the Intellectual-Property-based opportunities available to them in Philadelphia and beyond. General meetings are held throughout the year with practicing attorneys who are invited to speak about their career paths and those available to students in their field. Our own Rutgers Law professors are also often invited to speak about current issues in the field and how they may affect students who are pursuing their own career in the field of Intellectual Property.
RIPLA also provides updates to students of IP-related academic and employment opportunities in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. Networking opportunities, internships, and writing competitions are only a few of the opportunities that RIPLA keeps its member students informed about. Given the extremely competitive nature of the job market in recent years, RIPLA recognizes that it is vital for students to get a leg up on the competition through the contacts they form through these events.
If you wish to get involved with RIPLA and receive emails regarding upcoming events and opportunities, please email PAUL ST. MARIE (email@example.com) to join.
Organizations Beyond Rutgers Law
It is never too early to get into contact with local practitioners — including many Rutgers Law alums — who work in the area of IP and information law. One way to do this is to join local, national, and international organizations as a student member. Many IP law groups offer student members steep discounts on membership dues (generally about $25). The following are a list of organizations you may wish to join to learn more about IP practice.
NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL:
- Note that CSUSA has a Philadelphia Chapter
- Note that the ABA has a section on Science & Technology Law
In addition to these local groups, other Philadelphia-area law schools (e.g., Drexel, Penn, Temple, Villanova) and New York-area law schools (e.g., Cardozo, Columbia, Fordham, New York Law School, NYU, Seton Hall) also have student IP law clubs that sometimes host public events. IP-focused students from Rutgers Law are encouraged to attend these events.
IP ADVOCACY/LOBBYING/PRO BONO ORGANIZATIONS:
The organizations listed above generally include those actively practicing in the field of IP and information law. In addition, many national and local organizations engage with IP in pursuit of specific political goals. Some of these organizations seek public support in their lobbying, pro bono service, and litigation efforts. For example, the Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and the New Jersey Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts offer pro bono services to the arts community. Organizations like Public Knowledge and the Electronic Frontier Foundation attempt to influence the future direction of IP law. IP Students at Rutgers Law have worked for these and similar organizations during the course of their law school studies.
IP ONLINE RESOURCES
If you want to stay abreast of the latest information in the various fields of information law, there are a wealth of excellent resources available online. We will introduce just a few of them below.
But before that, it’s worth noting that not everything that is useful is a click away. The Rutgers Law Library has some of the most important and often-cited treatises on IP and information law, including Nimmer on Copyright, McCarthy on Trademarks, and Chisum on Patents. The hard copies of these treatises are arguably superior to their electronic versions in some ways. The library also has a large number of monographs and other materials relevant to information law research, so you should familiarize yourself with its collection.
Given that you have student access to Westlaw and Lexis, you should explore the extent of your access to IP resources. These two commercial databases provide access to IP-related caselaw, practice forms, news, law review articles, treatises, statutes, etc., with hyperlinks that will provide access to documents across databases. If you are doing serious research into an information-law issue, the commercial databases should be your first stop.
For free and quick access to the legal codes, the Legal Information Institute at Cornell is a great resource. Other sites, such as Google Scholar, offer free online access to case law. The USPTO website has a large number of patent and trademark resources and databases (and is a great place to get background information on patents and trademarks). And the U.S. Copyright Office has information and resources related to copyright law.
There are many student journals that publish specifically in the area of information law. For instance, Rutgers Law publishes the Rutgers Computer and Technology Law Journal. There are IP journals at many schools, which can easily be located through Scholastica or ExpressO. If you are thinking of publishing a student note or article, you should consider submitting through these sites to an IP journal.
Many law firms, solo practitioners, law professors, law students, and even non-lawyers maintain weblogs that offer commentary on recent information-law developments. (See, for example, the RIIPL blog.) While some blogs have been in operation for more than a decade, new ones are always appearing. Some people read blogs by visiting websites directly, but many people use feed aggregators to read weblogs. (One example is Feedly.)
There are many lists of IP-related weblogs. Here is one. Here is another. Another way to find lists of weblogs is to look at the “blogroll” or list of links on any weblog — most IP bloggers tend to link to other bloggers. The blogs you decide to read will depend on what type of blogging you like. Some blogs are funny, some are focused on litigation, and some are focused on particular subfields (e.g. fashion or biotech). The following blogs are good starting points:
- Patent Law: Patently-O, Patent Baristas, Patent Docs
- Trademark Law: 43(B)log, Las Vegas Trademark Attorney, The TTABlog, The Trademark Blog
- Copyright: Clancco, Techdirt(tagged copyright), Hollywood, Esq., Property: Intangible
- Internet Law: Tech & Marketing Law Blog, Freedom to Tinker, Harvard’s Berkman Center
- IP/Information Law: Arstechnica, IP Watchdog, EFF
For communications and network policy, you might want to check out Public Knowledge and Free Press, for perspectives from the left, and Free State Foundation, for perspectives from the right. In addition, fcc.gov itself is an invaluable resource, as is ofcom.org.uk, which has forward-looking analyses and reports on media markets and policies.
And of course, there are many other forms of social media that you can use to stay on top of IP news and developments. RIIPL broadcasts on Twitter and YouTube and you can find links on those pages to some of the people and organizations we “follow.” There are also many free IP-related podcasts.
Of course, given the vast quantity of IP news available today, you won’t have time to keep up with even a fraction! Your law school course work should come before blogs and other social media. But these resources are a good way to supplement what you’re learning in class and to get a sense of the latest cases and controversies. They may also be a good way to obtain ideas for student publications.
- Private Sector
- Public Sector/Public Interest
- Judicial Clerkships
- JD Advantage
Our alumni can choose to work for law firms, business, industry, or other private sector jobs. Large firms (75 or more attorneys) typically have offices in several locations, and handle a range of practice areas, with attorneys assigned to specific roles for corporate or large organization clients. Medium-sized law firms (25 to about 75 attorneys) focus on a few practice areas, but associates have more flexible roles. Small law firms (solo practitioners to 25 attorneys) work for a range of clients and associates. Lawyers may also serve as 'in-house' counsel, working directly for a corporation, business, nonprofit organization, or other entity. Many in-house attorneys are generalists, working on a variety of different legal matters.
Rutgers Law School alumni hold various positions within government on the federal, state, and local levels. Career Development will share with current students what opportunities are available through the Rutgers Law School Public Interest Hiring and Public Interest Updates.
With more than 400 New Jersey clerkships available each year, Rutgers Law has one of the largest proportions of graduates working in clerkships with judges at the state and local levels.
Earning a law degree is an intellectual experience that will forever impact your critical thinking skills and professional life. While the decision to enroll in law school should be based on some degree of interest in the practice of law, a legal education can also develop opportunities for success within a multitude of careers.
JD advantage careers can include: legal publishing, court administration, law library services, and legal education as well as financial services, human resources, politics and legislative affairs, and insurance/risk management.
While Rutgers is ranked #15 by American Lawyer for feeding big law partnerships, traditional firms are just one major pathway for our alumni’s professional success.