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Exploring Nonlegal Careers for Lawyers…You’ve Got Options

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 great nonlegal careers for lawyers”. Yet there’s a good chance 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.

Taking a path to the unknown can be overwhelming…

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. That frustration is likely to be 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 nonlegal 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…

Do these fears sound familiar? Let me help you to break free from them.

You’ve Got Career Options!

I’ve written this piece – in fact, I’ve created this entire site – to show you that you’ve got options. So have hope! I’m here 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 your options: Public Relations Jobs

PR jobs, especially in crisis communications, can make great nonlegal careers for lawyers. After all, strong writing and communications skills are key to helping companies protect their reputation and prevent litigation.

You’ll find a video interview with a lawyer-turned-PR-executive who focuses on crisis communications when you click the link above. We had a great discussion where he shared everything you’d want to know about the career path.

Here’s another alternative legal career option for you: Compliance Jobs

Compliance jobs make a great fit for lawyers who don’t want to practice law. In fact, a growing number of attorneys are filling compliance positions.

You’ll find compliance roles in regulated industries from healthcare to banking. Law grads have the perfect skill set for these roles – from spotting issues & risks to resolving conflicts.

A lawyer-turned-ethics-and-compliance-executive shared her story and all kinds of great advice about compliance careers in the video interview we did together. The link above will take you to her video page.

Life is Too Short to Feel Stuck in the Wrong Career!

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 2003, which is the year I first became a legal recruiter. I can’t think of one example where someone regretted their move!

Self-Reflection Before Pursuing Nonlegal Careers

To mitigate the risk of shaking up your professional life, you’ll first want to do some self-reflection to get in tune with your strengths, skills and interests. You’ll see that I make this point quite often.

Trying to pursue law-related careers or nonlegal careers without first doing some self-reflection is like playing darts with a blindfold on. You’re likely to just drive yourself nuts.

Why? Because you won’t know what paths might fit you or be able to explain to anyone (who could help or hire you) why you make a good fit.

You’re then more likely to apply to random online job openings by sending your resume into a black hole. Even worse, you’re more likely to grab a new opportunity that turns out to be as bad of a fit as your current career situation.

Now, 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 the following exercise.

The Martian Exercise

Turn to your right and pretend there’s a Martian sitting on a couch, staring at you. Yes, for real.

Tell the Martian how you’re looking to change careers. Talk about your work experience. Explain what you’re good at doing and what you enjoy (or would enjoy) doing at work.

REMEMBER: They don’t have lawyers on Mars! That means 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. You might explain that you can boil complicated ideas down to their essentials. Maybe you’ll say that you’re good at managing projects and clients, identifying and managing risks, and being persuasive…

See how this exercise forces you to pull your head out of the law bubble?

The exercise helps you see yourself as more than just a “lawyer.” Once you can see that, you can start envisioning yourself working in alternative careers for lawyers.

Talking to the Martian also prepares you to communicate with the nonlegal world. After all, they’ll need to know what you bring to the table.

You really think the legal profession is the only world where your skills are in demand? Really?!

It’s My Mission to Help You Find and Land a Fulfilling Career with Your Law Degree

You’ll find help with the essential step of self-reflection here on JDCOT and in my guidance-filled email series on leaving the law. When you sign up for the email series, you’ll receive my self-reflection questionnaire to help you get the ball rolling.

As you poke around JDCOT, you’ll discover a wide variety of videos of non legal jobs for lawyers. The videos feature interviews I’ve conducted with accomplished law grads who share what a typical day in each career path is really like. They also share things like the skill sets and personality types that best fit their paths. Plus, you’ll get advice on how to break in to each career.

The full-length versions of the career videos are included in the JD Refugee® class. That’s my step-by-step guide to finding a career fit and making a career change. It includes guidance-filled videos, worksheets, and phone calls with me.

The full-length career videos are also part of a JDCOT Membership. But even without spending a dime, you can learn a lot from the video clips that are available throughout the site.

Regardless of whether you’re interested in the specific career paths I’ve profiled, these videos will get you to think outside the box. You’ll see your law background differently and also think differently about where you could take your skills and interests.

If leaving the law is high on your priority list, then check out the “I hate being a lawyer page” for some direction on using JDCOT. Otherwise, you can click here for help getting started.

I look forward to helping you! If you have any questions, please email me.

Related Posts:

Careers Lawyers Change To From Law Practice
Ask These Questions Before Quitting Law Practice
Is There Enough Money After Leaving Law?

JDCOT's self-reflection questionnaire 


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

it's free!
You’ll also get periodic updates, reminders & access to career guidance programs sent to your inbox. We respect your privacy. You can unsubscribe via a click at any time.