There are numerous reasons a lawyer may consider moving toward an alternative career path.
Some lawyers, particularly those early in their career, realize that practicing law is not what they envisioned before they went to law school. They want to explore non-traditional career paths, sooner rather than later.
Some lawyers are looking for a new challenge. They have reached a point in their legal career where they have accomplished all they wanted to and are looking for their second (or third) career path.
Some lawyers can't find their next traditional legal job. Too many lawyers in their practice area, brutal competition, rate-reduction pressure from clients, and the rising specter of alternative service providers and artificial intelligence.
Some lawyers dislike their jobs and are miserable. Too many hours. Too much boredom or stress. Often, both within a short period.
What's a lawyer to do?
A good place to start is to explore the information and resources on this page. Then, take action and strategically plan the next steps on your career path, whether it leads to an alternative career for lawyers, or whether you follow a more traditional route.
If you decide to follow a traditional legal career path, or even if you don't, exploring "Lawyers Careers - 2021 Best Practices and Actionable Tips" will provide even more value in your career path exploration.
Also, you can find additional information on how to use job search sites to find traditional jobs for lawyers and alternative jobs for lawyers at Lawyer Job Search Sites - 2012 Revision and Expansion.
MY ALT CAREER PATH(S)
Before I ever heard the terms "alternative careers for lawyers" or "JD Preferred" and "JD Advantage" jobs (heck, probably before they were even terms), I had a job on a career path that would now be considered an alternative career for an attorney.
I didn't take the bar exam straight out of law school, instead my first job after graduation was as a "landman" at a Fortune 100 company. A landman is a person in the oil industry whose primary function is to secure drilling rights. I didn't even know the job existed, or its related career path, until shortly before graduating from law school and moving to Denver to begin work.
I eventually took a bar exam (I'm now a member of three state bars), but in the seven years before I started practicing law I had several other jobs that were on the alternative careers for attorneys path. Besides being a landman, I was an assistant professor at both a university and a community college, a bartender/restaurant manager trainee, ran a janitorial service, and did some small business consulting.
I was very lucky and succeeded in the law far beyond my wildest dreams, but did not find fulfillment and was unhappy much of the time. I was a law clerk for two federal judges (actually, great jobs), an attorney at several small boutique firms, in-house counsel for a publicly-traded investment company, and an equity partner at two Am Law 100 firms in Washington, DC and New York City.
I now own a career consulting firm specializing in alternative careers for lawyers.
ALTERNATIVE CAREERS FOR LAWYERS WEBSITES
This section includes sites with a focus on alternative careers for attorneys.
Casey Berman founded Leave Law Behind after leaving the law himself.
Leave Law Behind "is a blog and community focused on one thing: Helping unhappy attorneys leave the law." Casey writes that the site and blog are "for disgruntled attorneys who want to leave law altogether; for lawyers who enjoy their work but want to change their day-to-day work routine or career trajectory; and for attorneys who only want to explore other businesses and ventures on the side."
The site includes very helpful posts, podcasts, and videos. Casey's 99 Tips to Leave the Law Right Now guide is available for download in exchange for your email address.
Casey has developed a paid Leave the Law Coaching, Course & Community and also provides individual coaching services. After this was published, Casey let me know he had just begun a trial offer for the Leave the Law course. $1 for a ten day trial, and then $97 a month afterwards (and folks can cancel any time, full 30 day money back guarantee).
Marc Luber created JD Careers Out There "to help you find career fulfillment using your law degree." There is a free downloadable self-assessment on the site to assist you in moving forward on your career path toward a non-legal job. Marc's YouTube channel includes over thirty free video interviews with lawyers in non-traditional careers and other videos designed to assist in the lawyer career transition process.
Although there are some free resources on the JD Careers Out There site, it is primarily a membership site ($24.97/month with discounts for longer subscriptions and a 30-day money back guaranty). The membership content has over 250 videos including interviews with a broad range of lawyers pursuing alternative legal careers and professional development videos covering the career planning and job search process. Membership also includes a member’s only newsletter.
Marc's eBook 99 Things You Can Do With Your Law Degree ($9.99) is a primer on non-legal careers for lawyers. The eBook includes a list of potential jobs, detailed discussions of many positions, a section on "how to find your passion or driving force," and worksheets to "help you discover and articulate your superpowers."
Jodi Ettenberg is a former practicing attorney who writes she now "eats soup for a living."
In addition to her very successful food blog, she "put together a Q&A series on different careers for lawyers, one that used the same 5 questions for each former attorney to ask them how they saw the world today, and to let them provide advice for readers seeking information on a career change." She called it Thrillable Hours, a play on billable hours, which she (and other lawyers) found hilarious and non-lawyers find baffling.
In addition to her Thrillable Hours' interviews, the page includes a list of other resources and books for attorneys seeking a non-traditional career.
The NALP site contains a wealth of resources for all attorneys, from pre-law students to senior partners. Exhaustive free reports on alternative and non-traditonal Emerging Legal Jobs, the transition from Lawyer to Administrator, and The Emergence of Nontraditional-Track Lawyer Career Paths are some of the most helpful resources available for many lawyers searching for alternative career paths. The NALP site also has a number of Alternative Career Handouts.
Although a little dated, Alternative Careers for Lawyers: Web Sites of Interest is a comprehensive list of sites that those considering different careers for lawyers should refer to early in their journey.
In addition to all of the free information and resources on the NALP site, individual volumes of Richard Herman's 21st Century Legal Career Series for $15 each or all twelve volumes for $150:
- Volume 1 - Data Protection Practice
- Volume 2 - Careers in Compliance
- Volume 3 - Health Law
- Volume 4 - Energy Law
- Volume 5 - “Soft” Intellectual Property Law
- Volume 6 - Risk Management
- Volume 7 - The Administrative Law Revolution
- Volume 8 - Digital Assets Practice
- Volume 9 - The Education Sector
- Volume 10 - Law Teaching & Training
- Volume 11 - Insurance Careers for Attorneys
- Volume 12 - JD Advantage Jobs in Corporations
Jennifer Alvey, a former practicing lawyer, created the Leaving the Law website as "a community for those who are unhappy practicing law." The site's tagline is "Find Work and a Life Beyond the Billable Hour." Jennifer's site includes a blog covering various topics of interest revolving around alternative jobs for lawyers.
Jennifer offers individual career and writing coaching and conducts seminars for attorneys.
The ABA Legal Career Central - Alternative Legal Careers' page contains a selection of videos and blog posts on various aspects of alternative careers for attorneys.
The page has good quality posts and links out to other ABA career resources.
Life After Law is the website of a Canadian firm that provides "career transitioning lawyers with the resources and assistance necessary to achieve success in their new jobs and careers."
The site states it is their "goal to ensure that all your career moves are strategic and contribute to your growth and career development whether in private practice, in-house counsel, quasi-legal or otherwise."
The firm provides career consulting services and recruitment services.
I couldn't leave the Big Kahuna of legal sites off this list even though they have little that specifically addresses alternative jobs for lawyers (at least not organized as such). Above the Law does publish articles targeted at transitioning attorneys on a fairly regular basis.
The Above the Law Resource Center has several helpful resources for transitioning lawyers exploring moving to a different firm or going in-house, particularly as relates to compensation.
ALTERNATIVE CAREERS FOR LAWYERS VIDEOS AND PODCASTS
These videos and podcasts are a sampling of the alternative careers for attorneys audio/visual resources available on YouTube and elsewhere.
While I still lean heavily on written material, I know many lawyers prefer to watch or listen. Enjoy.
An hour-long luncheon program addressing how to utilize legal skills outside of a traditional law firm setting.
An hour-long program by ABA Legal Career Central.
The program notes say the speakers “know lawyers think about changing careers, not just changing jobs. If you are contemplating moving beyond a traditional role for a lawyer, join our standout speakers with experience in leaving law behind and charting new directions."
You will learn about: "What kinds of non-traditional roles you might contemplate; job search obstacles you may encounter and how to overcome them; and how shifts in describing yourself and your skills that can help you land an alternative career.”
Another hour-long panel discussion presented by the folks at ABA Legal Career Central.
"If you've ever been thinking of using your law degree in a new way, or taking yourself in a new path altogether, join us to hear personal experience, motivating stories and actionable tips and lessons from real live lawyers who have now moved onto a new alternative career."
Join former practicing attorneys Adam Ouellette (author and founder of www.EsquireAcademy.com) and Casey Berman (founder of www.LeaveLawBehind.com) as they tackle the struggles of making life changes that will help you optimize your legal practice, or guide you on your path out of the law and into an alternative “non-law” career.
You know him from the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but he is also a law school graduate, economist, TV personality, comedian, and writer.
Allison Leotta was a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., where she specialized in sex crimes, domestic violence, and crimes against children. Drawing on that experience, she now writes legal thrillers, for which she’s been called “the female John Grisham."
In this podcast episode with interviewer Nicole Abboud of The Gen Why Lawyer Allison discusses her career transition, her writing process, and how it differs from legal writing.
John Skiba of JD Blogger interviews Marc Luber of JD Careers Out There. Marc gives "tips on how to make changes within the practice of law or to even venture out to a different career path – and just maybe find happiness along the way."
"In this episode of the ABA Law Student Podcast on the Legal Talk Network, host Sandy Gallant-Jones talks with Above the Law Editor Joe Patrice, CuroLegal CEO Chad Burton, LegalZoom General Counsel Chas Rampenthal, Clio Lawyer in Residence Joshua Lenon, and Legal Talk Network Executive Producer Laurence Colletti about alternative careers in law."
LAW SCHOOL & BAR ASSOCIATION ALTERNATIVE CAREER FOR LAWYERS PAGES
In this section I have highlighted some of the most relevant alternative careers for attorneys resources from law school and bar association websites.
Santa Clara Law's Alternative Careers page lays out a three-step process for the lawyer considering an alternative career path:
What Can You Do? What Do You Want to Do?
Identify Potential Career Opportunities.
Prepare to Address Employer Concerns.
Each of these topics is covered in some detail with links to other resources to supplement what is on the Santa Clara Law site.
The site has a link to an extensive listing of "Non-Traditional Jobs for Law-Trained Professionals" including functions, skills, qualifications, and important background information given for each.
The site also includes a link to an article, "Cover Letters and Resumes: Critical Tools for Alternative Career Searches," which contains many excellent observations and tips for those searching for different careers.
The University of Toledo College of Law's Career Services Non-Traditional/Alternative Careers for Lawyers page is filled with links to websites of interest.
Besides general job search links, the page also collects links to business and compliance, court administration, government, healthcare, education, and media sites. If you are interested in those fields, the page will be a helpful resource.
There are links to a good selection of websites and a listing of print resources to assist in career transitions for lawyers.
Georgetown Law's Career Planning site is solid in most areas.
The Loyola School of Law Alternative Careers page has links to great resources focusing on alternative careers for lawyers.
The page includes several lists of alternative careers for attorneys, websites of interest, resume advice and examples, and tips on handling tough interview questions. Worth your time.
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law JD Advantage Careers page is somewhat sparse, but does contain links to two great resources.
Kate Reichert, a Moritz alumna, has a 32-page paper on Nontraditional Careers for Lawyers. The page also has a link to the 18- page publication "The Alternative Careers Handbook." The Career Services Office of The University of Arizona Rogers College of Law produced the Handbook, but interestingly it does not appear to be available on their website.
University of California Hastings College of Law
The main attraction here, and it is a grand attraction, is the thirteen-page guide for those seeking alternative jobs for lawyers. The guide includes a reliable process for the alternative careers for attorneys job search with plenty of tips to help along the way.
There are also several resume examples for lawyers looking for alternative careers.
Florida International University Law
The FIU Law Career's Resource page contains several useful links.
The 8-page "Guide to Alternative Careers for Lawyers" is the standout for attorneys seeking an alternative career.
William & Mary's Alternative Legal Careers page contains an extensive list of annotated entries for books and articles that may be useful to an attorney considering alternative careers.
Yale Law School
While not specifically addressing different careers for lawyers, the Yale Law School's External Career Links page has an excellent collection of links that will be useful for those attorneys in transition.
In addition to general career links, the page is particularly good links to business and industry, academia, government, and public interest resources.
The New York State Bar Association's Committee on Lawyer's In Transition page has a list of resource, mainly focused on New York, but many apply to every lawyer in transition.
The big attraction is a collection of over 50 video webinars on career issues relating to career alternatives for lawyers.
The entire Winter 2015 edition of the Missouri Bar publication, Precedent, is devoted to alternative careers for lawyers.
The feature article is an excellent 8-page piece discussing alternative careers for lawyers. The article describes several issues in making career transitions and profiles several attorneys. Nicely done.
This Canadian Bar Association page discusses the alternative job search process and provides an extensive list of resources for lawyers seeking alternative careers.
The page includes lists of potential alternative careers and non-traditional jobs, job search websites, additional readings, transferable skills, and a few case studies. Applicable to lawyers everywhere.
ALTERNATIVE CAREERS FOR LAWYERS BOOKS
This section lists books that those seeking alternative jobs for lawyers might find most helpful.
I have not included more general career planning, personal branding and marketing, and job hunting books here. If you are interested, click the links in the previous sentence.
Life After Law: Finding Work You Love with the J.D. You Have Life "provides specific, realistic, and honest advice on alternative careers for lawyers."
"Unlike generic career guides, Life After Law shows lawyers how to reframe their legal experience to their competitive advantage, no matter how long they have been in or out of practice, to find work they truly love."
Liz Brown draws on her experience, and the experience of dozens of other lawyers, to offer "an alternative framework and valuable analytic tools for potential careers to help launch lawyers into new fields and make them attractive hires for non-legal employers."
Liz Brown also offers career change counseling services for lawyers, and she is a public speaker on different careers for attorneys.
The New What Can You Do With A Law Degree: A Lawyer's Guide To Career Satisfaction Inside, Outside & Around The Law - Dr. Larry Richard And Tanya Hanson
In the sixth edition of The New What Can You Do with a Law Degree: A Lawyer's Guide to Career Satisfaction Inside, Outside & Around the Law "Larry Richard JD/Ph.D. helps you identify your career identity. You can then focus on finding lifelong satisfaction in the traditional practice of law, or through alternative work arrangements, or career choices."
"This book contains career exercises, practical career-finding techniques, and a compendium of 800+ ways to use your law degree inside, outside or around the law."
A standard reference for lawyers looking for career satisfaction in or out of the law.
"With chapters containing real letters from lawyers who are desperate to leave the practice of law, tales from lawyers who have shut the door on their legal careers, and powerful exercises, The (Un)happy Lawyer provides a witty, no-nonsense roadmap for finding and pursuing engaging work outside of the law."
Monica Parker "helps you ask and answer the hard questions about what you want from your work and life and will help you successfully pursue your career goals."
Lawyer Interrupted: Successfully Transitioning from the Practice of Law - Amy Impellizzeri
"This book covers both the practical and ethical considerations for lawyers taking a break in service for a variety of (voluntary and involuntary) reasons, including temporary leaves of absence, taking care of family, changing careers, disciplinary actions, and retirement."
Amy Impellizzeri's book "focuses on the importance of pre-planning, addresses the considerations unique to each reason for a break, and shares stories and advice from a broad population of lawyers who have taken a break from service for each of these reasons."
24 Hours With 24 Lawyers - Jasper Kim
Jasper Kim has written a book that should appeal to most lawyers considering a career change, in or out of the law. You will get a sense of what it is like to work in twenty-four different jobs, some legal, some non-traditional.
"Whether you want to be a full-time corporate lawyer, work as a legal consultant while pursuing your music career, or anything in between, this book gives you a unique "all-access pass" into the real-world, real-time personal and professional lives of twenty-four law school graduates."
"These working professionals each present you with a "profile" chronicling a typical twenty-four-hour day in their traditional and non-traditional careers. You will read actual twenty-four-hour accounts from the perspective of a venture capitalist, Wall Street lawyer, lobbyist, entertainment lawyer, IP attorney, sports broadcaster, JAG officer, prosecutor, criminal defense lawyer, mediator, and politician, just to name a few."
The Creative Lawyer: A Practical Guide To Authentic Professional Satisfaction - Michael F. Melcher
Michael F. Melcher's “book will help lawyers find a way to happiness in their career and life.”
Starting with self-examination, readers can analyze their values and then create their career fulfillment plan.
With Melcher’s help, "you can create a step-by-step plan for life and career that will get you back on track with your definition of happiness."
Leaving Law: How Others Did It and How You Can Too - Adele Barlow
Adele Barlow, a UK-based writer, authored this recent book, but its message and lessons are applicable to solicitors/lawyers on both sides of the pond.
If "you were only going to do the lawyer thing until you figured out what you were really going to do with your life... you're in luck."
Adele's book is "easy to read, it has inspiring anecdotes, frameworks from internationally leading career change experts, and immediately actionable tips and exercises to help you build a strategy for your career transition."
I couldn't end this list without a shameless reference to my book, Professional Prosperity For Lawyers - Find The Perfect Job And Create Your Ideal Career.
Whether you are in law school or a senior partner at an Am Law 100 firm, this book can help you revitalize your career to find the perfect job and create your ideal career.
There is a disconnect between lawyer’s passions and their work. Some lawyers detest their jobs. Others tolerate their work for the paycheck. Either way, these lawyers are detached and dissatisfied with their jobs. They desire something deeper and more meaningful in their work and career.
This book can help you revitalize your career and achieve success, prosperity, and personal fulfillment. Success, prosperity, and personal fulfillment as you, and only you, define those terms.
ALTERNATIVE CAREERS FOR LAWYERS COACHES
In this section I have highlighted lawyer career coaches who focus on alternative careers for attorneys. Some of them have websites or have written books about alternative careers for lawyers that are described above.
In addition, many excellent lawyer (and general) career coaches across the country can assist you in your career transition process even if they don't specialize in alternative careers for lawyers.
Casey Berman graduated from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 1999 and after a few years in the legal field left law behind to create several enterprises.
After speaking to a packed room of lawyers and law students at Hastings in 2009, Casey hatched another business idea – Leave Law Behind.
Casey works with:
*Disillusioned lawyers who want to leave the law altogether and start their own business.
*Lawyers who like what they do, but feel trapped, either by the demands of the firm, their physical location, or inability to spend more time with their families.
*Lawyers who like their current job as it is right now, but are interested in building other side businesses or ventures.
Marc Luber created the website JD Careers Out There. Prior to that he was a legal recruiter, helping attorneys with their careers throughout California. Before that, he used his JD to work in the music industry.
Marc offers his services through the paid membership portal on his JD Careers Out There website. He also offers personal coaching services.
Bruce is a specialist "in job search, particularly alternative careers for lawyers and executives." He has "been helping senior-level clients find new positions in law, business, non-profits and universities since 1992."
Bruce says "if you are bored, under-challenged, overworked and unappreciated, or if you don't know what options are available to you," to contact him today.
Liz Brown is the author of Life After Law: Finding Work You Love with the J.D. You Have.
Liz is a former litigation partner at an international law firm. She graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School and has practiced law in San Francisco, London, and Boston, advising senior executives at Fortune 500 companies. She is the former Executive Director in Boston of Golden Seeds, one of the largest angel investor networks in the United States.
Liz provides career consulting services for attorneys seeking alternative legal careers and is a frequent speaker on the topic.
"Shauna C. Bryce, Esq. is a leading expert in career development, career transition, and career portfolios for lawyers."
Shauna's mission: "to help lawyers build careers, using proven strategies she developed through her combined nearly 20 years as a practicing attorney, a member of a law firm hiring committee, and a career adviser."
Mo Chanmugham is a marketer turned lawyer turned career coach. Moe had a string of "dream jobs", first as a marketing associate in the sports industry (Reebok), then as an assistant to a Hollywood agent in the film industry (United Talent Agency), and finally as an entertainment lawyer in the music industry (Def Jam, Sony Music), he realized he "was chasing a superficial version of success rather than one that was authentic to him."
Motivated by the belief that the right job was out there for him, Moe invested in his own personal development to get a better sense of what he truly cared about. He quickly fell in love with what he was learning and saw how coaching gave him the clarity and confidence he needed in his professional life.
That's when he realized he wanted to use coaching to help other professionals who were stuck in unfulfilling jobs gain the clarity and confidence they needed to find their ideal careers. As he has changed careers more than once he understands why people are driven to find meaningful work, the mistakes they make when trying to choose the "right" career path, and how to avoid them.
Donna Sweidan’s customized approach to career coaching is to help lawyers develop a strong brand, an exciting current resume, and an online network that represents what it takes to succeed in today’s marketplace.
Donna is a well-known expert and advocate on the “new” job search, which requires professionals to build a online identity with tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Blogs to create a robust profile and increased level of what she refers to as “G-cred.”
Annie writes that she "figured out what success felt like for me. Through my customized coaching programs, I help lawyers like you do the same. We work together to identify what’s holding you back, reconnect with what makes you tick and guide you toward a more meaningful career and life."
Alvah Parker "specializes in working with attorneys who want to build a profitable and fulfilling practice as well as people in transition who are interested in exploring career options."
Alvah's coaching helps her clients get clear about their personal and work vision. From that they design a plan and strategy for the future based on that vision.
Jennifer Alvey left practice as a mid-level Big Law associate in 1999, after finally realizing that the problem wasn’t a specific firm, but what she was doing with her life. The lawyer life and work did not fit who she was, and she realized it never would.
She writes, "Since then, I’ve found out the amazing, positive difference it makes to have work in your life that matches your uniqueness. You can, too."
Jennifer goes on to say her "job is to help you get moving and keep moving in the direction that is genuinely yours. In other words, to get you unstuck."
Tama Kieves is an honors graduate of Harvard Law School. Tama left her law practice with a prestigious corporate law firm to write and help others discover and soar in their life’s work.
Tama is the nationally bestselling author of This Time I Dance! – Creating the Work You Love, Inspired & Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work!, and most recently, A Year without Fear: 365 Days of Magnificence.
Tama works with private clients as her schedule permits, occasionally runs group coaching programs, and has a self-guided coaching program.
Sheila Nielsen began her practice over twenty-five years ago counseling attorneys and now works with a wide variety of clients from new graduates to seasoned professionals.
Sheila specializes in career direction issues including early career choice, midlife career change, re-entry to the job market, and late career issues.
As a former attorney and a successful business woman, Anna is a skilled professional and an attentive listener.
Anna has experienced many life transitions herself and has created a fulfilling life while holding on to her own definition of success. Anna helps you to find your own path and reach your goals.
What Crystal Marsh has discovered through coaching millennials is "that most are seeking more than just a job to pay the bills - they want a career that’s meaningful, lucrative and inline with their core values and strengths."
Crystal writes "finding work that you love (and that pays the bills) can be a confusing and frustrating process." That’s where she comes in. As a millennial career coach, her job is to guide you through defining who you are, what you truly want and create a plan to get you there.
If you’re in the UK, check out Martin Underwood. Martin founded Life Productions to help more people make a successful career change.
Before Life Productions, Martin was a practicing barrister and then made his first alternative career transition to become Head of HR at one of the UK’s fastest growing companies, where he doubled the team and learned what it takes to get hired.
Will Meyerhofer, JD LCSW-R is not an alternative career for lawyers coach, he is a psychotherapist. Will has a private practice in TriBeCa, in New York City.
Will holds degrees from Harvard, NYU School of Law and The Hunter College School of Social Work, and "used to be an associate at Sullivan & Cromwell before things changed... Now, in addition to his work as a psychotherapist, he writes books and blog entries, and has a column for AboveTheLaw.com."
If you are a New York lawyer who needs a therapist to discuss career (and life) issues, check Will out. Will also works with attorneys across the world via Skype sessions.
I show attorneys how to revitalize their careers, including how to transition into alternative jobs for lawyers.
I help lawyers find personal fulfillment in their work by using their strengths and passion to create their ideal career. Then, we work on how to effectively market themselves and their services to potential employers and clients.
My work helps lawyers develop a career path to success and prosperity.
I act as a confidant, adviser, mentor, consultant, and business coach for big-thinking attorneys ready to embrace a career and life of passion, purpose, energy, and financial security.
I am a keynote speaker, author of a professional career advice book and numerous articles, and am a business owner.
I am also an attorney career, business development, and marketing expert.
ALTERNATIVE CAREERS FOR LAWYERS JOB SEARCH SITES
A Word Of Caution
There is little reason for lawyers to spend time on job search sites until they have gone through the process of identifying their core purpose and passions, assessing their strongest skills, and envisioning what their ideal career and life would look like in their perfect world.
Once a lawyer has done the preparatory work in the alternative career transition process, I recommend they spend less than 10% of their job search time on job search sites.
Job search sites may be useful for discovering the skills and qualifications employers look for in various jobs.
The sites may also be useful in uncovering terms that companies use in describing your ideal job (so you can include them in you resume and LinkedIn profile).
In addition, job search sites may help you identify businesses in a hiring mode.
Beyond that, waste little of your precious time on job search sites.
Then, why do I include this section in a page about alternative careers for lawyers?
Because I know the first thing most lawyers do when thinking about an alternative career is to look at job search sites. That’s reality.
However, a much more effective and efficient use of your job search time is to be networking, making direct contacts and promoting your personal brand.
Tips For Using Job Search Sites To Locate Alternative Jobs For Lawyers
The search terms you use on job search sites are the most important factors in obtaining relevant job listings. Even at a high level, a keyword can make an enormous difference in the search results.
For example, a recent job search for the word “lawyer” on the Indeed site only returned a list of 3,736 lawyer jobs, but a job search for the word “attorney” returned 24,044 lawyer jobs. Experiment using a variety of keywords in your job search queries. Each search engine and site is different.
After you have completed the broadest search possible for potentially relevant jobs, narrow your search, or you will waste a considerable amount of time reviewing irrelevant job listings. Use the filters provided on the sites to weed out irrelevant job listings. You may also use keywords to focus your search results.
Once you have identified the most effective and efficient way to find job listings relevant to your situation on a site, save that search to use again later. Many sites allow you to save search queries. If you can’t save the search query, make a note to yourself for later searches.
Many job search sites allow you to be notified by email when a new job is listed matching the parameters of one of your relevant searches. Take advantage of this feature. You don’t want to review the same search results continually or try to remember the date you last searched a site.
Besides the job search sites listed below, also identify position-focused (i.e., human resource professional), industry-focused (i.e., financial service), and geographic-focused (i.e., Chicago) job search sites. These sites may be more useful than general sites for lawyers who have focused their job search on a particular type of job, industry, or geographic area. For example, the eFinancialCareers site allows you to search for alternative careers for lawyers in the financial industry.
The Best Job Search Sites For Alternative Careers For Lawyers
Google for Jobs
When I first published this page less than a week ago, Google for Jobs did not exist. Now it does and it may be a game-changer in the job search site game.
I have now put it in first place as the most important job search site tool (it is Google after all). My rush to judgment may turn out to be wrong, but I doubt it.
LinkedIn is still right up there as the best job site for professionals, but Google for Jobs indexes the job listings on LinkedIn. In fact, Google for Jobs indexes virtually all the key online job boards including LinkedIn, Monster, Glassdoor, CareerBuilder, and Facebook among others. Google also includes job listings it finds on a company’s homepage.
Jobs posted natively on Indeed are the one exception to the listings indexed by Google for Jobs. Therefore, you might want to still explore Indeed as well.
This article on how to use Google for Jobs by Donna Svei of the Avid Careerist is a great primer.
The LinkedIn site is the largest professional social networking site. It is also one of the best job search sites for alternative careers for lawyers, if not the best.
To start your search in LinkedIn, click on the “Jobs” tab on your home page. A “Jobs” search box is at the top of the page.
However, before you search, if you have a LinkedIn profile (and if you don’t, stop right now and complete your profile) look at the “Jobs you may be interested in” section just below the search box. You will see a list of jobs selected for you by LinkedIn based on your profile. You can modify the LinkedIn selections by specifying a job title, preferred geographic location, type of job, industry, and company size.
Below “Jobs you may be interested in” is a “Companies in your network” section. This area contains information on companies with job listings where you also have LinkedIn connections (another reason to build you LinkedIn connection network). The information shows the number of people you have relationships with at that company. If you click on a company, it will take you to the home or careers page on LinkedIn with the job listings.
Then go back up to the top of the Jobs page. To search for a job, type in your keywords and geographic preference. On the search results page, you can filter your search results by distance, company, date posted, experience level, industry, and job function.
I have just described the tip of the LinkedIn iceberg. There are many other great features in the “Jobs” section to assist lawyers searching for alternative jobs for lawyers. There are also many other ways to use LinkedIn to help attorneys in their search for alternative careers for lawyers.
The Lawlternate website writes that the jobs on their “board are hand-picked from a variety of sources and feature start-ups, non-profits, and established corporations.” The site lists jobs that some people call “JD Advantaged.”
The Lawlternate database includes positions where being a lawyer might be advantageous. You can search by keyword and location.
USAJOBS is the official website for most federal jobs and employment information. You can apply for jobs directly through the site.
The USAJOBS' site also has information about eligibility, compensation, and benefits for federal workers, including vacation time, commuter subsidies, insurance, and childcare.
PSJD is a National Association for Law Placement initiative. PSJD job listings include non-profit, government and other public interest jobs. The listings also include internships and postgraduate fellowships.
The PSJD website has a list of almost 15,000 organizational profiles for non-profit, government, and other public interest employers. The PSJD site also offers an online library of educational and career-building resources for those interested in pursuing a career in public service.
Idealist is a job search site for finding employment in the non-profit world.
The Idealist site also includes volunteer opportunities, a blog with stories like tips on managing student loans and a listing of events related to the non-profit world.
General Job Search Aggregators
The three best general job search aggregators to find alternative careers for lawyers are Indeed, Simply Hired, and Glassdoor.
For example, if you are still trying to get ideas for alternative careers for lawyers paths, recent searches on Indeed for "JD Preferred" jobs resulted in 6,097 positions and for "JD Alternative" jobs returned 647 positions.
Each of these job search sites has a few features the others don't, but they are all relatively close in usefulness. Try them all out on several job searches and see which site has the features that work best for your searches.
Hillary Mantis, an alternative careers for attorneys expert, compiled this list of job search site suggestions for the National Jurist.
Hillary's list includes specialty sites with databases and search engines focused on positions in higher education, human resource management, media, public relations, health care, and Capitol Hill.
Hannah Morgan at Career Sherpa has put together this list of apps that may be helpful in your alternative careers for attorney's job search. Hannah is a real deal in the job search and career development field and puts out a lot of great information and resources.
The article includes a discussion of job search apps for LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor among others.
Your Law School's Proprietary Portal
Finally, don't forget about your law schools proprietary job search system, whether it is Symplicity or another system.
Many law school job search systems are geographically limited. However, law schools typically have reciprocal relationships with other schools if you are searching for an alternative career in a different area of the country.
As an aside, an amusement, and maybe even an inspiration, I have started a list of famous (and not so famous) people with law degrees who have pursued alternative careers for lawyers.
Ex-lawyers are pursuing careers as authors, journalists, media personalities and politicians in significant numbers.
However, a number of ex-attorneys are creating some very interesting (and offbeat) alternative career paths for lawyers.
Let's make this a parlor game. Send me an email with you suggestions and I will add them to this page. Let's see who comes up with the most remarkable alternative careers for lawyers entry.
- Daniel Pink
- Jordon Harbinger
- Mira Kelley
- Henri Matisse
- Greg “Fossilman” Raymer
- Leigh Steinberg
- Nathan Sawaya
- Jeffrey Toobin
- Ben Stein
- Drew Shoals
- Walt Hampton
- Jay Bilas
- Will Shortz
- Scott Turow
- Jennifer Barcelos
- Kelly Perdew
- James B. Stewart
- Paula Boggs
- Anja Manuel
- Liz Stone
- Catalina Girald
- Joshua Redman
- Brad Meltzer
- David Hornik
- Ayelette Robinson
- Geraldo Rivera
- David Nir
- Business Author
- Top-Ranked Podcaster
- Past Life Regression
- Professional Poker Player
- Sports Agent
- Lego Brick Artist
- CNN Legal Analyst
- TV Host, Actor, and Writer
- Rock Drummer
- Entrepreneur and Coach
- ESPN Broadcaster
- NY Times Crossword Editor
- Yoga Entrepreneur
- Entrepreneur and Investor
- Consultant and Author
- Comedian and Recruiter
- Jazz Musician
- Venture Capitalist
- TV Journalist
- Daily Kos’ Political Director
ALTERNATIVE CAREERS FOR LAWYERS ARTICLES
Personal Stories of Alternative Careers For Lawyers
In this section I have curated some of the better web pages, articles, and blog posts discussing various aspects of alternative careers for lawyers.
The material is loosely organized into the following categories: personal stories, general articles, assessment, potential alternative careers for attorneys, and specific alternative careers for lawyers.
The beginning of Brian's career probably sounds like a dream come true to some. He was an attorney employed by powerful law firms, working on important cases and transactions.
And yet, he couldn’t stand it. Not only did he not enjoy practicing law, he hated working for someone else. Years later, he realized that second part was the real issue.
So he walked away, and figured out how to support himself without a job. Early in the process, he was interviewed by an aspiring author (at the time) named Dan Pink for his first book, 2001’s Free Agent Nation. At its essence, the book is about other people like Brian Clark who didn’t enjoy answering to a boss, and how technology and corporate dynamics were prompting them to go it alone.
Fifteen years after Dan Pink interviewed Brian, he turned the tables on Dan as the very first guest on his podcast.
When reflecting back on Free Agent Nation, Dan had this to say about the unifying motivations of the “free agents” he interviewed:
And to my surprise, it turned out to be less of an economic story and more of a psychology story. It was more about people yearning for having a sense of autonomy and being true to themselves and having some freedom and control over their lives.
What Dan is keying on here is intrinsic motivation, and he went on to explore the topic in depth with his 2009 book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Pink boils down what motivates us to autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
As Brian progressed deeper into his entrepreneurial journey, he created what he thought was a “real” company, and ended up restricting his own autonomy in the process. Not the deal he was looking for, so he walked away from that as well in 2005.
Every time Brian did something “crazy” by leaving a seemingly lucrative situation, he went on to exponentially greater levels of financial success and gratification. He can’t accept that this is mere coincidence, given that when he had the proper motivation in place, it’s pretty hard to stop Brian. But you have to understand that “more money” was never his motivator.
Maybe Brian is an outlier when it comes to such a strict need for autonomy. But it may be more accurate to say that he was just early. After all, 60% of all small businesses are started by people between the ages of 40 and 59 — and the most common reason given is “to be their own boss.”
Brian concludes, "[m]aking a lot of money is nice. And these days, a small digital business can make loads of it. But the reasons to do it are your sense of purpose, your creative mastery, and yes … your autonomy.
Corporate Attorney to Youth Services CEO
After spending most of his career as a corporate attorney, Paul Haffner finally found himself when he flipped the script on work, family life and personal passions. In his words, "I’ve always been working hard to please others but now I get to be selfish for myself."
After practicing law at one firm for over 20 years while helping fellow volunteers with their projects in other areas during free time, Paul Haffner had an epiphany that changed everything: enough was enough! He left the law and became CEO of Lighthouse Youth Services, an agency dedicated to creating a community where every young person has the opportunity to thrive.
From Big Law to Yogi
At 29 Erica Cannon, disappointed in the life she had chosen for herself, even though she had achieved all of her goals - attending the top schools, working for the best law firms in the most exciting areas, and making lots of money - she woke up and realized that not only did she suffer from anxiety in professional and social situations, but she had also been depressed for two decades.
This awakening led her to change her entire life.
Corporate Attorney to Career / Executive Coach and Podcaster
Janine Esbrand is the founder of LightBox Coaching.
She studied for her LLB law degree at City University in London, before spending a year working at a law firm in New York. Upon her return to the UK, she completed her legal training and qualified as a corporate lawyer.
Janine Esbrand now helps ambitious women to design and launch their dream careers or businesses beyond motherhood through individual coaching, her membership community, and her weekly podcast.
Staten Island Lawyer Turned Pro Gamer
Vincent Valerio, a native Staten Islander and former attorney, set his law degree and attorney’s license aside in order to pursue a career as a professional video gamer.
Valerio, who friends and relatives once called “crazy”, cemented his status as one of the top NBA 2K gamers in the world after the Milwaukee Bucks drafted him in the NBA 2K eSports league’s annual draft.
“People thought I was crazy,” said Valerio, who left his lucrative job at a New York City law firm two years ago. “I quit my job as a lawyer to follow my dreams. I never put so much on the line in anything in my life and for it to work out is just unbelievable.”
10 Lawyers-Turned-Entrepreneurs Creating a Revolution in Law
Recently a trend has swept through the legal profession.
"Lawyers are leaving the safe and well-paying world of law to build their own fast-growing, tech-first companies. "
Why? The need to fix problems and deep inefficiencies encountered in their first career of law.
These lawyer-entrepreneurs are helping create “legaltech” companies, using major advances in technology, including artificial Intelligence, to solve archaic practices in the practice of law.
This is Working - Eddie Huang
Restaurateur and TV personality Eddie Huang started his career as a corporate lawyer — until he was laid off due to the 2008 financial crisis.
But it was that job loss that ended up jumpstarting his career in writing, food and media.
His memoir “Fresh Off the Boat” was adapted into a sitcom for ABC, and he is now making his directorial debut with the movie "Boogie."
Clean-Crafted™ Wine Sales Entrepreneur
Burned-out attorney and drowning mom, Erin Gerner, is now an entrepreneur leading and mentoring a team of hundreds of budding wine entrepreneurs across the US.
Erin was overwhelmed and a victim of poor work/life balance. She took a sabbatical from the law to raise her family. However, after the birth of her 2nd child, it became financially clear her family could no longer remain a one income household.
Erin had NO desire to go back to the grind of full-time law life, bill her life away behind a desk and miss baths, school pickups, extracurriculars and dinner with her family! All the moments she cherished.
She wanted choices. And for the first time in Erin's career, she took an open-minded look at career options outside the traditional 9-5. One that included:
OPPORTUNITY TO GROW PROFESSIONALLY
She found her answer poured into her glass. Erin took a huge leap of faith and started her own clean-crafted™ wine business with an innovative, never been done before company.
A little more than 3 years later, Erin finds herself Top 0.5% in company leadership and Top 10 company-wide in Lifetime Personal Sales having personally marketing over $150,000 in clean-crafted wine.
She is passionate about mentoring other professionals to build a sustainable, additional source of income in the pockets of their already busy day. Nearly 80% of Erin's business partners have full time careers and she am proud to lead these professionals, corporate employees, and entrepreneurs to earn a second- or third-income stream in the e-commerce space.
Former Practicing Attorney and Managing Partner with Over a Dozen Side Hustles
A former practicing attorney, Krystal Wascher, has had over a dozen side hustles, including writing about freelancing, creating online courses, and voice over and video editing projects.
After obtaining her law degree, Krystal worked at various law firms and was a small Philadelphia firm's managing partner for a few years.
While she enjoyed this work, some part of her always felt unfulfilled. She is a creative at heart and loves to perform, teach, and build things.
In 2015 Krystal started her own multimedia production company, KRW Media LLC, to help authors, experts, and businesses develop digital products.
Life After Law: What to Do When You Don't Want to Be a Lawyer Anymore
Personal story and lessons from Devo Ritter a former public defender "who made the jump from traditional law to strategic communications, business development and most recently the world of compliance."
Devo has worked in government, for big corporations, and in the startup world. She now spends her time at a financial institution in the world of digital risk.
Hans Keeling is profiled by Tim Ferriss (yeah, The 4-Hour Work Week guy). Hans transitioned from corporate mergers and acquisitions work to becoming an entrepreneur and international surf resort founder.
Tim sets Hans story within the context of an article on "Fear-Setting." Fear is an emotion every lawyer transitioning into an alternative career encounters.
This article not only profiles Hans' journey, but also provides good advice on overcoming fear and exercises designed to deal with the fear.
Lori Anne Wardi was a fifth-year associate at a Big Law firm in New York when she walked away. She had been miserable the whole time but was considered a smashing success by her friends and family.
Lori Anne is Vice President of Brand at .CO (a web domain registery company). She was responsible for all matters involving brand strategy, business development, and global communications. [Lori Anne has since transitioned once again to become a vice president at Neustar, a global information services provider.]
In this article, Lori Anne gives us a tour of her transition through several alternative careers and points out a few lessons she has learned.
Warren Brown is the host of the Food Network show, Sugar Rush.
Prior to entering the food industry, Warren had a career in health education and law until he decided that his true calling was to become a pastry chef.
This is Warren's story in reverse chronological order.
Warren's story is not unique. A corporate attorney in Denver has a list (with links to stories) on her Simply Sweet Justice food blog of over twenty other lawyers who have left the law to become bakers.
Wendi Weiner writes about her career path from practicing lawyer to award-winning resume writer and executive coach. She says that "rather than stressing over not being able to get a job as a lawyer, or awakening to the idea that you despise being a practicing lawyer, I want to tell you that yes, there actually is life after law!"
Wendi believes "your law degree is invaluable to the business world." This article shows how you can find your happiness in an alternative career for lawyers.
"As Clarence Darrow once said, “Inside every lawyer is the wreck of a poet.”"
"Indeed, many lawyers harbor frustrated creative ambitions. Sure, they went to law school, and now they’re out practicing. But they could have been novelists, or painters, or pastry chefs. Or successful jazz musicians" like Joshua Redman.
This is his story.
This article is part of the regular "alt.legal" column at Above the Law written by Ed Sohn and Joe Borstein.
Raj Goyle has always been an entrepreneur trying to solve big problems. This is his story.
When Raj "thought about entering the law firm world, it just didn’t seem like a fit." He spent his summers in law school working for Archbishop Tutu in South Africa, the NAACP LDF, Public Citizen – and starting an early dotcom.
Raj has had a number of career paths that have "naturally gravitated toward public policy, politics, and the tech sector."
While you might not have Raj's pedigree, his career path is instructive. If you want to become a legal entrepreneur, use your strengths and interests and find big problems you can help solve. Raj believes the "law is ripe for innovation so if you have an idea, pursue it!"
This is Karen Nourizadeh's alternative careers for lawyers story.
Karen was a litigator in New York City for ten years. She "managed to maintain a healthy work-life balance," but understood "how powerful my life-routine was in maintaining my health." Karen decided to use her "voice outside of the courtroom, to inspire others to become more balanced internally."
Karen practiced mindfulness, meditation and yoga as an attorney. For almost a decade now, she has "helped thousands of New Yorkers, of all ages and social statuses, to become aware of unwanted or unhealthy habits and patterns in order to create healthier patterns which in turn, helps them to relate more skillfully to themselves and the world around them."
Matthew Potts shut down one of the most active criminal defense practices in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley to become a tennis instructor.
Potts said "there's less stress in his life." As an attorney, "his mind constantly raced about his clients and their cases, and it would distract him even when he was watching his children's Little League games or attending family events. His clients' futures were at stake in his cases, he said, and he struggled to switch off the work life to take care of his private one."
Now, Matthew can work his stress out on the court, not build it in court, although he still takes an occasional case for the sport of it.
David Wertime is a senior editor at Foreign Policy, where he manages its China section, Tea Leaf Nation.
In 2011, he co-founded Tea Leaf Nation as a private company translating and analyzing Chinese social media, which the Foreign Policy Group acquired in September 2013.
David has since created two new miniseries and launched Foreign Policy’s Chinese-language service.
Richard Hsu recently left his partnership at Shearman & Sterling to become a Managing Director at Major, Lindsey & Africa. This is a first-person account of his journey.
Richard is known to lawyers as the gregarious host of HsuUntied, one of the most popular podcasts in the legal industry. Now, he is also a former practicing attorney and moving forward on his alternative career path as a legal recruiter.
Why I Quit My Six-Figure Job To Be Happy
Natalie Bacon is a financial planner by day and a blogger by night. She's "passionate about money, personal development, and blogging."
In another life, Natalie was an attorney. Now, she is digging herself out of massive student loan debt and blogging about it along the way! But she is happy, not miserable as in her prior career.
Robert Markowitz, a successful lawyer in Silicon Valley, says he "had come home (to Mamaroneck, NY) 3,000 miles from California to seek work that didn't make me cry in the morning." Robert wanted to get into entertainment and became a clown.
This story is Robert's first-person account of his journey to an alternative career for lawyers. (And yes, I realize more than a few people think lawyers are already clowns.)
An added bonus: Robert talks about his essay in a twenty minute radio interview with Ama Karikari-Yawson. Ama is herself a lawyer who is pursuing alternative careers. She is an author, writer, storyteller, and budding politician.
Robert continued his transition and moved on from his clown gigs to become an acclaimed musician catering mainly to young people. He has recorded award-wining albums and has performed in over 1000 concerts.
Robert now likes to get out of bed most mornings.
This is Jessica Silverstein's story of career transition.
Jessica knew she never wanted to practice law in the traditional sense. Ms. Silverstein practiced Holocaust restitution and women’s health product liability before beginning her career as a legal recruiter.
Jessica shares her journey and lessons learned.
Casey Hall, a former practicing attorney, is now in charge of global social media strategy and consulting for Thomson Reuters.
In his social media career Casey has created and written blogs for Thomson Reuters and done the tweeting for @Westlaw.
This is Casey's story.
In this seven-year-old story from the Wall Street Journal, Cari Sommer had gone from being a seventh-year associate at a law firm to become an entrepreneur and co-founder of Urban Interns, a website that connected small business owners with people seeking part-time opportunities.
Well, Cari is still an entrepreneur having gone on to become the CEO of the Sommer Communications Group a successful Tech PR and Thought Leadership firm. This further transition of her career is a lesson to all of us about the continuing need to be open to new jobs and revised versions of our ideal career.
In another seven-year-old story from the Wall Street Journal, Alex Barnett had gone from being a plaintiff's class-action lawyer for fourteen years to becoming a stand-up comic.
Well, I checked, and Alex is still earning a living as a comedian and has a successful podcast.
Scott Frazier is the executive director of the International Jet Sports Boating Association.
This is Scott's story. In addition to his executive director duties, he also maintains a side practice offering legal consulting on sports, music, real estate, business, and general entertainment matters.
Scott has successfully moved forward on an alternative career for lawyers path while still keeping a foot in the law.
William Ha, former practicing lawyer and author of the book Quit Law and Code writes about his journey from law into software development. You can hear more about his career path on this Gen Why Lawyer podcast.
He writes "in the instance that you decide you want to leave law to be even more effective in changing the world, or saving people, you can become a developer."
William believes software "development at its core is about solving people and social problems." An intriguing idea.
Allen Rodriguez is a co-founder of One400, a digital legal marketing agency, and a former practicing attorney.
Allen writes regarding the lawyers "that are dissatisfied with their lives, it pains me to see such talented people with great potential, stuck in jobs they aren’t passionate about." Even though "they have ambitions to write screenplays, start businesses or teach rhetoric, they rarely pull the trigger."
Allen wrote this piece about ten lawyers that used their law degrees to pursue their passions as inspiration to all the miserable lawyers still practicing. He hopes "this will encourage the unhappy souls out there to do the same."
Josh Kubicki, the Chief Strategy Officer at Seyfarth Shaw, compiled this list of 70 lawyers who have become entrepreneurs within the legal markets. There is a short discussion of each lawyer and their entrepreneurial venture.
Some of the lawyers still practice law, at least part-time, but even those that do typically devote more time to their entrepreneurial ventures. Many have founded startups, side companies, and other ventures.
"So many lawyers want out that there are consultants and coaches who specialize in getting them pointed in a new direction."
Leigh McMullan Abramson, a former practicing lawyer now a freelance writer, wrote this article for The Atlantic. The publication of the article brought the long-developing issue of lawyer dissatisfaction with their work to the general public. Since then, there has been a new openness around the challenges and opportunities of alternative careers for lawyers.
In this Psychology Today article, Katharine Brooks writes “You WERE a lawyer. Get over it -- if you want to get a job elsewhere." She continues with the argument “that the word “lawyer” comes with a lot of baggage.”
Contrary to some of the advice in other articles here, Dr. Brooks advises that you should downplay that you have a law degree. Something to consider.
Following up on the previous Psychology Today article, this article on the ABA Legal Career Central website by Anusia Gillespie, who is herself pursuing an alternative career for lawyers, sounds a similar theme.
It cautions attorneys seeking alternative careers to be mindful that they might be perceived as someone who will leave once a suitable legal position becomes available, will thank they deserve more money than other job candidates, and will view the job as beneath them.
You must be able to address these concerns of potential employers to pursue alternative careers for lawyers.
This article from the Solo Practice University website Clay Westbrook, again a former practicing attorney pursuing an alternative career for lawyers, looks at some issues those seeking a transition away from the law should think about before embarking on the journey.
For example, the writer correctly points out that attorney "productivity [# of billable hours] is the exact opposite of productivity in the real-world." He then writes that perfectionism in most non-legal careers will kill your chances for a successful transition.
A LinkedIn Pulse post by C. Grace Whiting, a non-practicing lawyer who followed an alternative career path, lays out three transferable skills for lawyers pursuing alternative careers.
The author writes rather "than succumbing to the fear that a law degree will hinder your career, think creatively about who you are and what you learned in law school that would be useful on other career paths."
An interview with Joe Patrice, Editor of the Above the Law website. Joe discusses his transition out of practicing law and gives his opinions on why and how many other lawyers may pursue alternative legal careers.
A long article by Roy Ginsburg, a lawyer career coach, on how lawyers should approach finding alternative careers. Take the time to digest the process. A list of resources is attached to the end of the article.
Sheila Nielsen has successfully counseled many attorneys who decided to leave the law.
Who gets out? Why are some lawyers successful when there are many who have the intention of leaving but do not accomplish that goal?
Nielsen writes there are five key factors she has learned to assess to predict a lawyer’s successful transition from the law.
In this article Sheila shares the five factors to successful transition to an alternative career for a lawyer.
Marc Luber of JD Careers Out There gives us his views on why having a law degree is an asset to a job search in many fields.
He believes that alternative careers for attorneys are a reality, not a mirage.
This long piece was written by Will Meyerhofer, a former practicing attorney who became a therapist.
Will offers a glimpse at the physiological and emotional struggle most attorneys go through when considering a career transition out of the law.
If you like this article, you will love Will's book, Way Worse Than Being a Dentist: The Lawyer's Quest for Meaning.
My Struggle to Find What I'm Good At
Casey Berman writes that our "Unique Genius are those skills and strengths and enjoyment that come so naturally to us, so authentically to us, so easily to us that we don’t even think of them as a skill. We just do them."
Casey develops the idea that is "the crux of leaving the law: Instead of pursuing jobs and a career based on not-the-most-fulfilling reasons (money, status, title, security, what other people think is right), we can use our Unique Genius to help inform and identify a more authentic and aligned and happier career path and job search."
Valerie Fontaine, one of the foremost legal recruiters and a former practicing attorney, writes that the "first step toward achieving career success and satisfaction is an honest self-assessment."
She believes if "you’re not clear about where you’ve been, where you are, and where you want to go, it’s difficult to determine if you’re on the right path or what your next step should be."
Valerie says it's a good idea to give yourself a regular career check-up. "Periodic reflection on your progress and satisfaction will keep you from wandering too far afield and increase the odds of reaching your ultimate goals."
The Yale Law School Career Development Self-Assessment page is a useful resource for those interested in doing more self-assessment before seeking alternative careers for lawyers.
The Yale site has links to six free self-assessment tools. The site also has assessment tools to help your find the right geographic location and the right employer for your situation.
Not sure if you want to pursue alternative careers for lawyers, or if you ought to consider other practice areas or settings to continue practicing law?
This assessment can help you make that decision.The online assessment takes about 40 minutes, costs $99, and the results will be delivered to you immediately after you complete it.
The evaluation report "profiles your distinctive qualities in the traits that are most important to practicing law." Your assessment report "will immediately tell you your best fit in the legal profession, including practice areas and practice settings, what traits make you a good fit for specific areas, and what traits may continue to cause friction."
If you are on the fence about whether to pursue alternative jobs for lawyers or whether to give the law one more shot, this assessment may be for you.
Alternative Careers For Lawyers
A list post with a few links out to stories about lawyers who have one of the jobs listed.
Also, includes links to several other related lists and articles.
Harrison Barnes, a former practicing attorney and owner of many job search sites, discusses sixty jobs for lawyers considering an alternative career transition.
Casey Berman, founder of Leave Law Behind, discusses nine alternative careers for lawyers. Casey goes into some detail on the type person who would enjoy and succeed in each job. Very thoughtful.
Kerry O'Shea Gorgone, former practicing attorney and a leading expert at the crucial intersection of law, social media, marketing, and PR writes "if you’ve invested in law school, but don’t see your future in traditional law practice, don’t despair. The world is full of non-practicing lawyers who are thriving in other professions. I’m one of them!"
This article contains parts of Kerry's personal story with lessons learned, a framework to help lawyers to find alternative careers, and a list of potential alternative careers for lawyers.
The Thomson Reuters' Alternative Legal Careers Solutions Blog archives have several articles about alternative careers for lawyers.
The Blog archives also have a number of articles about specific alternative careers for attorneys including site acquisition specialist, financial advisor, social media, law librarian, teaching and technology.
Another short article. This one lists five unusual non-legal jobs for lawyers that might be fun for some attorneys.
Several listings contain links to stories of lawyers who have made the leap.
Stacey E. Burke, an experienced trial lawyer and law firm business consultant, has a few (OK, "six") suggestions for alternative careers for lawyers.
The positions are related to law and Stacey discusses the type of person and skills necessary for each.
From the Business Insider, a quirky look at potential alternative careers for attorneys.
"Law graduates go on to plenty of lucrative and interesting non-lawyer jobs. Some of these positions—like Congress—might be a long-shot, but you'll be surprised at what you can do with your law degree."
Specific Alternative Careers For Lawyers
Brian DeChesare writes "if you’re a lawyer and you want to break into finance -- investment banking, private equity, hedge funds, and so on-- there is good news: you have it easier than some professions."
Brian discusses "what you’re up against, what your strengths are, and how to network like a ninja and dominate your interviews until you land an offer."
The article from the Student Lawyer discusses think tanks as a potential alternative jobs for lawyers.
After pointing out the different kinds of think tanks and describing what they do (primarily analysis and advocacy), the article continues with profiles of several attorneys who created their alternative careers in the think tank industry.
Alternatives to Traditional Public Interest Lawyering
This Harvard Law School page has a particular focus on alternative legal careers in the public interest and government areas.
There is a discussion of issue encountered, a listing of non-traditional careers/job titles with links out to several of the fields considered, and a listing of useful publications and other resources.
Besides all the resources mentioned above, there are links to webcasts of alumni career panels discussing their alternative legal jobs in the public interest sector.
New Options: Related Legal Careers
This post explores alternative careers for attorneys related to law firm management and administration.
For those attorneys who don't want to practice but want to remain close to the law, this may be an alternative to investigate.
Valerie Fontaine looks at the options and challenges inherent in a transition into law firm management and administration.
Compliance is one of the most traveled paths to a different career for lawyers. Many of the same skills lawyers use in practice translate easily into many compliance jobs.
If you're interested, this US New & World Report article has further information. Compliance jobs are also a great way in the backdoor to move into more business or management oriented careers, or even to try the law again as an in-house counsel.
What are you going to do today to find an alternative career for lawyers?
THE PROCESS FOR PURSUING ALTERNATIVE CAREERS FOR LAWYERS
This section should be the first section on this page. But, you most likely came to the page for the information and tools discussed above, so that's what I presented. I aim to please.
However, you will be much more effective and efficient in finding the perfect job and creating your ideal alternative career if you follow this process:
- First, you must reconsider your life and career to identify your true purpose and passions. If you don’t bring your purpose and passions into better alignment with your job and career, you will soon find the same frustrations and unhappiness in any job.
- Second, recognize your interests and strengths. Not only your interests and strengths in law, but also non-legal interests and skills you have developed in your life. Your strengths also include the unique characteristics reflected in your personality. Prepare to build on your interests and strengths in finding a new job.
- Third, spend the time to envision a picture of your perfect career and life. Until you are clear about your vision, you won’t know how your next job will help you move along a career path to achieve your ideal career and life. You won’t be ready to set goals and revitalize your career until going through the preceding steps.
If you thoroughly and consistently follow this process, I assure you that you will find the perfect job and create your ideal alternative career path.
ABOUT GREG YATES
I am a Keynote Speaker, Author, Business Owner, and Lawyer Career Transition Expert.
I started a career consulting practice serving lawyers and other professionals after a successful career as a practicing attorney.
Before starting my professional career consulting business, I was a:
• Equity partner at two of the largest law firms in the country
• Rainmaker who developed an annual book of business of over $3.5 million
• Winner of the Turnaround Management Association Turnaround of the Year – Large Company 2011
• Lawyer in a small boutique firm
• In-house counsel for a publicly-traded investment firm, and
• Manager at a Fortune 500 company and several small businesses
I now work with other lawyers and other professionals to help them find their perfect job and create their ideal career to achieve success, prosperity, and personal fulfillment.
The page “Alternative Careers For Lawyers” appeared first on the Greg Yates Consulting website.