Out of school (late 1990s) I worked as a legal assistant (not a "paralegal," which was a level above what I was doing) at a very large law firm.
I then applied to law school, attended a then-top-20-to-25-ranked state law school (it has since fallen in the rankings). I had decent grades but didn't get a big firm job making lots of money. After graduation, I worked a few years as an Assistant State's Attorney. Then I worked for a number of years as a staff attorney for a state court. By then I was "in the system" of state government and knew a lot of people in various departments and agencies. So, I've worked in various departments and agencies in jobs where a J.D. may be helpful, but not necessarily required. My pay has increased with each new job. If not, I would probably not have changed jobs. I've never made a huge amount of money, but I've done pretty well, made easier by the relatively cheap cost of living where I live. Oh, and I worked outside of state government for a little over a year doing compliance work in the private sector.
If I was starting out today, I don't think I would have done anything the same. I would not major in social policy, but probably something more practical (I know, "practical" varies). And, I would definitely not go to law school as the costs are generally astronomical now, there is a glut of attorneys, and the number of decent-paying law jobs is declining. The entire profession isn't what it used to be. I get asked all the time by young adults if they should go to law school, and I almost always say "no" - unless they (1) are tireless workers who will get into a Top 6-8 school and do well, (2) come from a family with money who is willing to completely foot the bill so if they don't get a job, they don't have tons of debt, or (3) they get into at least a "decent" school with some scholarship money and don't have to borrow a ton to go to school, AND they have a good line on a job due to family contacts or simply their own networking.