Alternative Careers for Lawyers: Let Your Passion and Skills Lead You
Maybe you were unlucky enough to graduate the past few years (or lucky depending who you ask) and have had trouble finding a legal job, or maybe you've actually worked as an attorney and realized how much it sucked. Whatever your particular circumstances, know one thing: you are not alone.
I personally took the leap out of the legal industry, and then found a middle ground as a legal blogger which had all of what I considered fun as a lawyer (research and writing) without all the stuff I hated about the practice (partners, clients and billable hours).
Making a huge change, especially after taking on so much student debt, can be daunting, but totally doable. I'm not going to list specifics for you here -- instead, I'm going to focus on the incredible skills you've attained as a law student and attorney, and how to apply them elsewhere.
Follow Your Passion
I will be the first to say that it sounds so cliché, but if you're going to take a leap of faith, make it for something you love to do. Have you always loved fashion, photography or design? Go for it. Ask any lawyer what they really want to be doing and the answer is so often not "practicing law."
Think it's just a myth? Rebel Desk is a perfect example of this. This attorney loved using a treadmill desk so much, that she started Rebel Desk, a treadmill desk company with her husband. This happy couple is not alone. According to Forbes, many attorneys go on to start their own successful ventures.
Sell Your Skills
Some people think that the only job you can get with a law degree is a position as an attorney. Not so. Aside from all the other jobs you could have within the legal industry ranging from academia, alternative dispute resolution and clerking, you can work in nearly any field.
You didn't just magically get through three years of law school and pass the bar. That takes a certain amount of smarts, commitment and hard work -- all great features in any type of employee. We (JDs and lawyers) also tend to excel at research, writing, critical thinking and analysis. Past litigators will have an edge when it comes to public speaking, while past transactional attorneys will have an edge when it comes to sitting down at a negotiating table.
While approaching a new career may intimidate you, focus on the skills you have, rather than the ones you don't. The skills we learn in law school can help us in any field, in any venture. It's all how you present your
Have you made it out of the legal rat race? Tell us how by tweeting us @FindLawLP.
Editor's note, November 29, 2016: This article was first published in October 2013. It has since been updated.
- How Else to Use a Law Degree: 5 Fun, Non-Lawyer Careers (FindLaw's Greedy Associates Blog)
- 99 Things to Do With Your JD, Besides Practice Law (FindLaw's Greedy Associates Blog)
- The Legal Job Market Isn't Dead; It's Just ... Delayed? (FindLaw's Greedy Associates Blog)