Alternative Careers For Lawyers Beyond Law Practice
If you’re a lawyer who isn’t happy practicing law, I have good news for you: you’ve got options. You probably hear that all the time: “there’s lots of alternative careers for lawyers out there”. But you don’t believe it.
Maybe you’ve even psyched yourself out to the point where you’ve lost hope. You dream about leaving the law, but you don’t know what else to do or how to go about doing it.
This confusion can lead to paralysis, leaving us feeling stuck in a miserable status quo. When combined with the risk averse, over-analyzing, overthinking traits so common in lawyers, we can easily send ourselves into a downward spiral of frustration focused on several exaggerated fears about leaving law:
- the fear of letting down our parents, loved ones, bosses or coworkers;
- the fear that all of our hard work to become lawyers will have been for nothing;
- the fear that anything beyond law practice is a step down in prestige;
- the fear that we can’t possibly make decent money outside of law;
- the fear that there are too few alternative careers for lawyers;
- the fear that no hiring managers will respect our skills and talents;
- the fear that our initial efforts for leaving the law haven’t gone well;
- the fear of taking the road less traveled;
- the fear of failure…
Sound like you?
Once again, you’ve got options! I’ve written this page – in fact, I’ve created this entire site – to give you hope, to show you that you’ve got options, and to help you find and land a career that fits you so you can feel fulfilled with your day-to-day.
Here’s an example of one of those options: Public Relations Jobs
PR jobs, especially in crisis communications, can make great alternative careers for lawyers with strong writing and communications skills.
Life is too short to be miserable with your career choice! Not to get morbid, but one of my dad’s best friends, like an uncle to me, dropped dead of a heart attack at the age of 43 as I was starting high school. My college roommate got colon cancer during his residency in medical school and died at the age of 28.
We only get to spin around on this giant, floating blue marble so many times. Every minute we spend miserable or dwelling on the fears above is a wasted minute that we don’t get back. The sooner we get ourselves on the right track, the better.
Sometimes it takes shaking things up and embracing some risk to get to our happy place.
Once you commit to leaving the law and you land a non-legal job that fits you, the odds are incredibly slim that you’ll ever look back with regret. I’ve seen and helped countless people leaving the law for alternative careers since I first became a legal recruiter in 2003. I can’t think of one example where someone regretted their move!
Here’s another alternative legal career path for you: Compliance Jobs
Compliance jobs are hot right now – you’ll find them in regulated industries from healthcare to banking. Law grads have the perfect skill set – from spotting issues & risks to resolving conflicts.
To mitigate the risk of shaking up your professional life, you’ll first want to get in tune with your strengths, skills and interests. You’ll see me say that a lot. I’ll be helping you with those things here on the site and in our free, guidance-filled email series on leaving the law. You can sign-up for that here.
If you only see yourself as a lawyer to the point where you can’t possibly imagine how your background would fit alternative careers, you’re not alone. To bust out of that common mindset, do this excercise: turn to the blank space to your right and pretend a little green Martian is sitting next to you. Yes, for real.
Tell the Martian how you’re looking to change careers. Explain what you’re good at doing and what you enjoy (or would enjoy) doing at work. They don’t have lawyers on Mars so you can’t talk about law, being a lawyer, or any other law-related terminology. Instead, you need to speak in a more universal language.
You’ll probably tell the Martian that you’ve got strong analytical, research, writing, public speaking and presentation skills, that you can boil complicated ideas down to their essentials, you’re good at managing projects and clients, identifying and managing risks, and being persuasive…
You really think that the legal profession is the only world where those skills are in demand? Really?!
As you’ve seen above, I like to pretend here at JDCOT that I’m Charlie Rose or Oprah, hosting my own TV interview show. I interview accomplished law grads working in all kinds of careers so that you can hear directly from them what each path is really like, what skills and personality types fit best, and how to break in to each path.
Even if you’re not interested in the specific paths being profiled in these videos, they’ll get you thinking about your law background differently and will inspire you to think outside the box as to where you could take your skills and interests. I’m not alone in saying this – you can click here to see what people are saying about JDCOT.
It’s my mission to help you find and land a fulfilling career with your law degree.
If leaving the law is high on your priority list, then you’ll want to download the free self-assessment questionnaire I created to help you get started (“The Career Mirror”). Signing up for that below via the yellow button will get you on the email list to help you with next steps. I also recommend checking out the “I hate being a lawyer page” for some direction on using JDCOT.
If you’re a law student or law grad interested in generally exploring alternative careers as part of your overall career search (and you’re still potentially interested in practicing law rather than leaving it), you should instead click here to get your self-assessment and get started with the site.
Thanks for visiting, everyone! And welcome to the community.