Asking a J.D. about his Career Path

Eva Yi Zheng
3 min readSep 19, 2021


At one point, I wanted to be an in-house counsel. I was studying for the LSAT, but I wasn’t particularly interested when I was studying. I was quite bored but I’m glad I found out that the J.D. route wasn’t for me earlier on.

If you’re wondering whether or not going to law school is the right path for you, then this article might just help you! Or maybe you’re just curious about how a JD could advance their career.

At what point did you know that you wanted to get a JD?

I would say the senior year of high school. I was in my school’s law program and I got a taste of what attorneys do and how it seemed so respectable and prestigious.

How was law school and how does one prep for it?

Law school was rough but it’s really about preparation and critical thinking. If you have your sights on attending law school, get a good undergrad GPA and LSAT score. Once in, buy the outlines of your 1L (first year) courses during the summer before you start. That’ll give you a good head start ahead of your classmates.

What was your career plan when you were in school and how closely did you stick with the plan?

I originally wanted to do international law for a multinational company, doing contract negotiations or setting up joint ventures, but now I do sanctions compliance, which doesn’t require a legal background. The JD does come in handy when thinking about new regulations companies have to face when conducting international trade or transactions.

As an Asian immigrant, did you face any racism during your interviews? If you did, how did you face such challenges?

As far as I recall, I don’t believe I ever faced any kind of discrimination during interviews because of my race.

What were some of the other struggles you faced when you were trying to break into the legal industry?

When I graduated from law school, it was close to the time of the financial crisis, so I didn’t have a job lined up and I was basically applying to anything. Luckily, I interned at the Department of Justice during my time in law school, and that experience landed me my first job in compliance for a bank.

Is there anything besides a JD that would make a resume stand out in the legal industry?

The JD is the degree you get once you complete law school, but in order to be a licensed attorney and practice law in your state, you need to also pass your state’s bar exam and meet all other state requirements for practicing attorneys. But usually, attorneys who work for the big law firms are hired after their 1L because of their good grades and high class ranking. That’s pretty much all that matters.