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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”) to help people like you get unstuck and find fulfilling careers that fit. Through private and group coaching, I guide lawyers through a step-by-step system that starts with self-reflection exercises to ensure your current unhappiness won’t be repeated in a new career.

When we work together via my one-to-one or group JD Refugee® programs, I help you:

  • Connect the dots to career paths that fit you.
  • Communicate effectively about your background so you can overcome any skepticism or confusion outside of the law bubble.
  • Explore career path realities.
  • Develop advocates so you can access the hidden job market and break into your next path.

My free Career Mirror self-assessment is a great, easy way to start figuring things out. When you send me your completed assessment, we can get on a call together to discuss your situation. You’ll find a link to my calendar in the document. Click here to get it:

Click Here to Get Your Free Self-Assessment

As you poke around JDCOT, you’ll discover that the site features 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. Library access is included in my JD Refugee® programs and with a JDCOT membership subscription.

Before I dive in below, in case this is the first page you’re seeing on JDCOT, 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 three steps above are a surefire way to find a fulfilling carer path. 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 in my JD Refugee® coaching programs.

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?

Like I said above, in my JD Refugee® programs, 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.

The free Career Mirror self-assessment is a great, easy first step to help you start figuring things out. You’ll find a link to my calendar in the document. If you send me your completed assessment, I’ll hop on a call with you to discuss your situation. Click here to get access to the self-assessment:

Click Here to Get Your Free Self-Assessment

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