Help Me Hillary: Making the Leap from Lawyer to Legal Journalist
I am an ex-lawyer living in Chicago. I quit my attorney job three months ago and have been temping. I'm interested in getting into legal publishing or legal journalism in a writing or editing capacity. I could use some guidance.
You are one of many lawyers I have heard from over the years who likes to write and would like to switch into a writing career. Fortunately many lawyers have excellent writing skills and do succeed in this field. There are a few different approaches you can take. One way is just to switch into a legal reporter or editor position. This is not that difficult to do if you have a legal speciality such as tax or criminal law. There are several large legal publishers and legal newspapers such as The National Law Journal and The American Lawyer that hire attorneys who have good writing samples and an expertise in something the publication needs covered (i.e., the courthouse beat). These jobs are often advertised in major newspapers such as The New York Times Sunday edition (under "Editor"). These jobs can also eventually lead to non-legal reporting jobs if you are interested in branching out.
Another approach if you don't already have a transferable specialty is to build a portfolio of "clips" (published articles). Most professional writers break into the field this way. First they get a few articles published on a volunteer basis to get clips. Once you have clips, you can send them out with your resume when responding to a job. That way you have established credibility as a writer. So how do you get your first clips? Try writing for free for a community newspaper. Find a topic you are an expert in or something that interests you. Pitch it to an editor. They always have space to fill and may be open to your idea. Also try looking at The Writer's Marketplace 2001 edition for lots of possible publications.
Breaking into writing is a step-by-step process. Once you see your name in print, you will never look back. I know I never did!
If you have your own question for Hillary send her an email to Help me Hillary.
Hillary Mantis, Esq.,is a career counselor and author of career books. She is the author of Alternative Careers for Lawyers and Jobs for Lawyers: Effective Techniques for Getting Hired in Today's Legal Marketplace.
Ms. Mantis consults with individuals and corporations on issues including: career transition, career advancement and direction, interviewing skills, leadership development, women in the workplace, and professional growth. She has been affiliated with Fordham University School of Law Career Planning Center for the past six years, and has been a career counselor for over ten years. She is a graduate of Brown University and Boston College Law School. For more information about private career counseling, email email@example.com, or go to www.mynewcareer.net.