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Career Change: Moving From Law To Strategic Communications

Jen Gould has no regrets about going to law school, but her first job in corporate transactional law wasn’t a good fit. While looking to make a career change, she found a position in strategic communications at the RAND Corporation.

If you’re thinking about leaving the law, be sure to tune into the video below to hear about her strategic way for finding her job.

Strategic communications is a mix of public relations, marketing and business strategy, Jen says. In this career path video, Jen tells us the fascinating story of RAND, a research institute, and she also shares why careers in communications make great alternative careers for lawyers.

If you notice that we use a photo of Jen at some points in the video, that’s because Skype got funky on us at some points while recording. Thanks, Skype!

Join JD Careers Out There for access to this video plus more day-in-the-life career path interview videos & transcripts.

Today’s Guest

Strategic Communications Director Jen GouldStrategic Communications Executive Jen Gould
Title: Director, Strategic Communications, RAND Corporation
City: Santa Monica, CA
Law School: UCLA School of Law in Los Angeles, CA
College: Princeton University in Princeton, NJ
Other Career: Since our recording, Jen has been promoted to the role of Special Assistant to the President and CEO of RAND. Prior to RAND, Jen practiced law as a corporate transactional associate.
Videos: Strategic Communications & Jen’s Career Advice

BONUS: Before you make a career change, you need to know what you’re looking for. My FREE self-assessment tool, The Career Mirror, will help you find clarity on what you really want. Click here to get instant access.



This is a transcript of the preview video on this communications path.

Join JD Careers Out There for access to the full version of this transcript plus the career guidance video library & transcripts.

Luber: Hey everyone, Marc Luber here. Today on JD Careers Out There we’re looking at the alternative legal career of working in strategic communications – so stick around.

[theme song]

Alright, today’s guest is Jen Gould who left the practice of law – and at the time of our interview was the Director of Strategic Communications at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit institution in Santa Monica, CA.

We actually filmed this video a while ago – and we had some technical issues so a lot of times you’ll just see a photo of Jen but that doesn’t impact the great info she shared with us. Since our recording, Jen has been promoted to the role of Special Assistant to the President and CEO of RAND. Good stuff!

As you may already know, at JDCOT we help you find and succeed in fulfilling careers using a law degree by exploring career paths both in law practice and outside of law for those of you interested in leaving the law.

I’m your host Marc Luber, the founder of JDCOT. I’ve always used my law degree to work in alternative careers for lawyers – first in the music industry and then as a legal recruiter. I’ve been helping lawyers with their careers since 2003 and I’m excited for the opportunity to help you.

Today Jen’s gonna tell us all about Strategic Communications – so let’s get started. Jen – welcome to JD Careers out there.

Jen: Thank you for having me.

Luber: Definitely. Thank you for being here. So, Jen, tell us what you do as a director of strategic communications.

Jen: Sure. Well, I work at the RAND Corporation. RAND is a non-profit institution that helps improve policy and decision-making through research and analysis. We are a global organization.

So basically, my job is to lead and direct a suite of activities that help our many diverse audiences which include funders, policy-makers, philanthropists, journalists, to help them all better all understand who we are, what we do and the resources we can offer.

I would describe it, basically, as a mix of public relations, marketing and business strategy.

Luber: Interesting! Ok. So it’s like a hybrid of multiple roles?

Jen: Yeah, definitely.

Luber: And so, RAND is a non-profit. Would the role be very similar at a for-profit corporation?

Jen: Definitely. RAND’s a large non-profit and operates, in some ways, from an infrastructure perspective, like a for-profit entity. So there are communications departments, a strategic communications division, all of these exist within the for-profit world.

Luber: Interesting! Could you give us an example of a specific type of thing you might deal with in strategic communications…

Jen: Sure.

Luber: …in your regular day and then we’ll walk into a whole typical day. But first, just an in-depth example of something you would do.

Jen: Sure. On any given day, I could be acting as a spokesperson for RAND, representing the organization at meetings, at events, speaking with groups of 10 people, perhaps visiting ambassadors or other sort of significant types of individuals, presenting in front of a room of 200 people, talking about RAND.

I work with our Web Division very closely, setting and developing social media strategy, for example. And I work with the creative team of writers and graphic designers to develop marketing materials that might help advertise our services in our new office in Abu Dhabi, for example, or perhaps to develop campaign collateral for a new fundraising campaign we’re launching out of our graduate school.

All of these things are part of my job, and really, every day.

Luber: That’s great. OK. So let’s hear about a typical day, like an overall regular day so we could picture what life would be like if we had a job like yours in strategic communciations.

Jen Gould: I’m working with so many different people, helping really to troubleshoot problems, develop creative solutions, push the envelope on creativity.

So I would really define a typical day as being incredibly collaborative. And I would contrast that actually – as a transactional attorney in a law firm, it was largely sort of a solitary pursuit. I mean I interacted certainly with partners and other associates and to a degree with clients, but there was a lot of just me at my desk – and this job is very different.

Luber: Alright! So that should give you a little taste of what Strategic Communications roles are like. We’ll dive lots deeper in the Full Interview video. Jen’s gonna tell us all about how to break in, who fits this communications career path the best, what’s a typical day and how to succeed once you’re there.

You’ll want to join the JDCOT membership for access to the full, in-depth career interviews & transcripts that will help you find and land a career that fits you. Check out what people say about JDCOT by clicking here.

Thanks again for watching everybody. I’m Marc Luber and I’ll see ya soon.

[theme song]

©2015 Careers Out There


How does a career in strategic communications sound to you? Let us know what you think! Be sure to share your feedback in the Comments section below.

Related Advice

More From This Guest

  • Thank you for posting this/making this video! I’m a third-year law student who is looking at alternative careers and this was very helpful!

    • Great to hear! Thanks for commenting @Sarah!

  • Christy McCarthy

    This video is so helpful! I have been looking for alternative careers that involve more
    creativity and collaboration than a typical law career.



Thinking of leaving the law? The best first step you can take is a good look in the mirror. START HERE:

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100% Privacy. We never share your information.