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Leaving The Law – How To Make The Leap & Change Careers

Leaving Law

Let’s face it: Leaving the law isn’t easy.

You went to law school to be a lawyer, and now you’re doubting that law is the right path for you. It can make you question your whole identity! Maybe family is pushing you to stay in a law job that you hate. Financial pressures can chain you to your job, too.

It’s important to remember that you are not alone and your skills are transferable. So don’t feel stuck!

But also don’t sit around waiting on recruiters for leaving law to come save you. There’s no escaping the fact that career changes take some work.

I’m here to help you. I’ve been helping lawyers with their careers since 2003. As a fellow lawyer who left law to use my background in alternative ways (first in the music industry and then as a legal recruiter), I understand where you’re at. I’ve been there and have experienced the light on the other side.

I started JD Careers Out There (JDCOT “JAY-dee-see-oh-tea”) to help people like you get unstuck and find fulfilling careers that fit. Here on JDCOT, I feature a video library full of interviews I’ve conducted with law grads working in a wide variety of alternative careers. You get to hear from different voices how they’ve reinvented themselves and discover what they’re up to in their alternative career paths.

I also run an online course called the JD Refugee® Class, which helps you step-by-step through finding a new career that fits you and breaking into that career path.

My guidance-filled webinar presentation on “How to Transition from Law to Fulfilling Alternative Careers” addresses in-depth the topics covered on this page. It also tells you how you can take that guidance to the next level by enrolling in the JD Refugee® Class. Even if you don’t register for the course, you’ll still get a lot of value out of the presentation.

Click Here for my
“How to Transition from Law”   Webinar


Before I dive in below, in case you landed on this page and it’s the first page you’ve ever seen on this site, you may want to start at “I Hate Being A Lawyer.” You’ll see there that I present a 3-step Path to Career Fulfillment. The 3 steps are:

If you landed on this page and are not interested in leaving law, you may want to visit “Start Here” for law degree jobs that fit you.

Leaving The Law

The 3-step Path to Career Fulfillment is a surefire way for anyone to find a career they love. But when you’re thinking about leaving law, you need to take another step – a leap, in fact. Let’s knock some of the common hurdles out of the way so it’s easier for you to take that leap:

“I’m a lawyer!”

You’ve probably watched TMZ and heard the little voice at the end of the show proclaim, “I’m a lawyer!” And yes, you are a lawyer – as is Harvey Levin, TMZ’s co-founder and host. But get that voice out of your head. You’re going to want to be able to think of yourself in different terms.

You’re actually someone who brings a diverse, valuable skill set to the table – and it’s not just “being a lawyer.”

Think about it. Your skill set includes analytical skills, problem-solving skills, negotiation skills, research skills, listening skills, organizational skills, being detail-oriented…the list goes on.

You really think that only law jobs use those skills?

The reality is that all kinds of employers can benefit from a workforce with that skill set – and you’ve got it! Simply seeing the light and making this realization should be incredibly freeing. Feel the metal shackles drop off your ankles!

“What will people think of me?”

I regularly hear from lawyers who are worried about walking away from the prestige of being a lawyer. They like being able to say, “I’m a lawyer,” and can’t imagine taking that away. Many are afraid that a career change will make them look like failures to their peers. Or they fear disappointing their spouse or their parents by leaving law.

But who says you can’t find a career that’s equally, if not more, prestigious? And how important is prestige if you’re an unhappy lawyer dreading going to work each day?

Have you ever met someone at a party who’s really passionate about what they do? I bet you’d rather talk to the enthused person than the unhappy one.

Finally, you’ve probably heard this 100 times, but it’s true 99% of the time: The people who care about you just want you to be happy!

Let’s face it. When you’re happy, you’re simply better to be around. You can be a better friend, coworker, partner and parent when you’re happy.

“I can’t afford to leave law.”

If you hate being a lawyer, you can’t afford NOT to leave law.

Thanks to the deaths of a few loved ones early in my life, I learned that life is too short to not love what you do. Every day we waste being miserable is one less day we get to be alive. The depression and suicide rates among lawyers are too high for you to ignore your unhappiness.

Let’s talk dollars and cents.

If you haven’t yet settled on the career path you want to pursue, then you probably don’t know what it would pay you. By convincing yourself that you can’t afford to leave law, you’re likely creating a hurdle for yourself based on an unknown!

There are law jobs and alternative careers for lawyers that cover the full spectrum of salary ranges.

If you actually do need to take a financial step backwards, there’s a chance that it’s just temporary. It’s very possible once you get your feet wet in the new path, that you’ll leap forward as you combine your new experience with what you already bring to the table.

Determining what you’re truly looking for, including both your lifestyle goals and the type of day-to-day work you want to be doing, is an essential step in the leaving law process. That’s why I have you start the process with self-analysis.

Sure, you may have to adjust your lifestyle to fit your new salary, but my video interview guests point out that you buy less stuff when you’re filled up by a satisfying career!

The reality is that it’s rare to find a lawyer who regrets leaving law – even if he or she is making less money in the new career path.

“I’m just not sure.”


This is why I recommend hearing from other people who have been in your shoes.

You can find my video interview guests’ advice on making a career change and leaving law here:

Career Change Tips

Some of these videos are publicly available, while others require a membership to the JDCOT Career Video Library. Membership is available as a stand-alone subscription and is also included with the JD Refugee® class.

After you watch any of the videos on JDCOT, scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a link to that video guest’s full career path interview. By watching their full interview, you’ll gain more insights into leaving law and perhaps get some inspiration about what you want to do next. You can also find a list of alternative careers for lawyers covered in JDCOT’s Career Video Library here:

Alternative Careers for Lawyers

Ready to take the leap and move forward?

In the JD Refugee® class, I help you determine what paths fit you, what you have to offer, how to communicate effectively about yourself, and build your network so you can break into fulfilling non-legal jobs for lawyers.

You get to consume the class videos and exercises on your own schedule. Plus you get personalized guidance from me and access to a community of lawyers going through the same life experience through our biweekly evening phone calls. You’ll find details on the class registration page.

If a class is more than you’re looking for right now, then I highly recommend checking out my free webinar presentation on “How to Transition from Law to Fulfilling Alternative Careers.”

You’ll find the presentation to be full of helpful, actionable tips. Plus, in the second half, you’ll get to learn more about the JD Refugee® class when I describe it in detail.

Even if you choose not to register for my class, you’ll still get a lot of value out of the presentation. Click here to select a start time and check it out.

Click Here for my
“How to Transition from Law”   Webinar


If you have any questions along this journey, don’t hesitate to contact me.