• Ben Olson

Ep. 274: Jobs Without JDs

Many law school hopefuls are starry-eyed and idealistic, hoping to be a force for good in the world. But after three years of Torts and Wills and Trusts courses, they end up disillusioned and in debt. What if there were careers in the law where you could do some good but didn’t need to get a JD first? Today on the show the guys take a look at some alternative careers in law. Plus, Ben and Nathan assess an “ancient cramming technique,” they hear from a student who tracked their score from 160 to 174 with interesting results, and they offer advice to two listeners who are feeling downright stuck on their LSAT journey.


As always, if you like the show and you want to get more from the Thinking LSAT community, check out the links below. You can connect with other folks studying for the LSAT, and get more useful resources from Nathan and Ben.


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Important Dates

12.02.2020 – It’s the last day to register for the January LSAT

01.06.2021 – It’s the last day to register for the February LSAT

01.16.2021 – Bundle up and hunker down! It’s the January LSAT

02.20.2021 – Hearts-for-eyes for days—it’s the February LSAT


7:16 – Pearls vs. Turds

It’s your (sometimes) weekly segment of Pearls vs. Turds. The part of the show where the guys take a look at some “found” wisdom from the field. It could be from some random LSAT-prep chatroom on the internet, advice given by an instructor, or even some tips that listeners have devised to help their studies. The guys weigh in and deem it a pearl of wisdom, or a lowly turd.


Today’s advice is courtesy of the annals of history. An “ancient Chinese cramming technique.” If this combination of words caused you to roll your eyes, you’re not alone. The guys almost immediately put this in the turd bin by name alone. How does this ancient technique work, you ask?! Well, dear listener. If you’re woefully unprepared to sit for the LSAT but you find yourself in the chair at any rate, this technique suggests that you scan the answer choices and choose the outlier in length: if four of the answers are short, choose the longest; if four of the answers are long, choose the shortest. The guys break down all of the reasons why one should never, ever, take this advice.


26:09 – Lost in LSAT YouTube

When you first start studying for the LSAT, it can be disorienting. There is so much advice out there and so many “strategies” for approaching the test, it can feel like, well, a morass. And that’s just how B is feeling—like they’re in a morass. B tacked down a 153 as a cold diagnostic, and also etched out a 160 untimed and is hoping the guys can provide some clarity for moving forward. Nathan and Ben assess B’s progress thus far and offer up some next steps.


38:29 – Non-linear LSAT Improvement

A listener writes in to share their tale of LSAT improvement. It turns out, unsurprisingly, that it took Anon several months—and several “setbacks”—before they reached their goal score in the 170s. After a cold diagnostic of 160, Anon started self-study, followed by some time spent in the LSAT Demon. They documented their progress, and it shows anything but linear growth. In fact, Anon saw a nearly 10-point drop before breaking into the 170s. The moral of this LSAT tale? Don’t expect steady increases in your score, your progress will likely be up and down with a trend towards higher scores.

42:18 – LSAT Journey Not Going Great

Another listener writes in with a bit of a different story. After three years of study, they have only seen their score jump by 10-points. A bit of a surprise considering their cold diagnostic was in the mid 150s. Anon wants to know what gives?! How can they step it up to have the T14 in their sights? Ben and Nathan diagnose what’s ailing anon. It sounds like a 65-hour work week and pursuing two master’s degrees may be holding Anon back, among other things.


53:33 – Alternative Careers in Law

LSAT Demon teacher, Katie, writes in to share some Thinking LSAT gold with y’all. You’ve heard it from the guys before. Going to law school can saddle you with crushing debt that can be very difficult to repay, considering most careers as a lawyer pay JS—that’s “jack shit”, for short. What’s worse is that many students go to law school without knowing what to expect. They want to be a force for good, but end up lost or disillusioned while racking up college loan bills.


Katie sends a list of jobs in the law that do not require a JD, and in some cases pay more than you might make as a lawyer. Not only that but for folks who are seriously considering a JD, any of these jobs would be a fantastic resume builder and would give you a taste of work in the law before you jump into a three-year degree. Plus, each of these jobs allows to you make a serious impact on the lives of others. Check it out.


DOJ Accredited Representative (Immigration): The Department of Justice runs a limited-licensure program that allows non-attorneys to represent people in their immigration proceedings as long as they work for an approved non-profit organization and demonstrate proper training and good character. Partially accredited representatives can represent people in affirmative proceedings like visa applications, affirmative asylum claims, and family-based petitions. Here are some examples of job listings for a DOJ Accredited Rep.

Court Navigators (Civil): For students interested in civil litigation, many jurisdictions run "court navigator" programs to promote access to justice for folks who can't afford an attorney. Court navigators help people find the courtroom, access social services, and complete paperwork. Navigators can work on issues like family law, housing, debt collection, and domestic abuse. Here’s an example of a court navigator position.

Investigator or Mitigation Specialist (Criminal): For students interested in criminal law, being an investigator or mitigation specialist might be a good option. Investigators can work for both defense attorneys and prosecutors. Mitigation specialists usually work for defense attorneys. They try to develop relationships with clients to help identify mitigating factors that the defense can use. Mitigation specialists usually work on high-level felonies and capital cases. Here are some examples of job listings for Investigators or Mitigation Specialists.

Legal Interpreter: For anyone who speaks a foreign language, being a legal interpreter or a court interpreter is a great job. It's not the same as practicing law, but it can be amazing to help someone communicate with their attorney or tell their story in a courtroom.


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