Help Me Hillary: Advice for Alternative Careers
What are the most common types of transitions out of the law?
Many attorneys are dissatisfied with their careers because their major job related interests or skills are not being met. Those unmet needs often get translated into a new career. In my ten years of counseling lawyers, I have found, anecdotally, that many attorneys transition into one of three areas:
Law is not exciting enough for these people - it's too much paperwork, and not enough action. They end up going into business for themselves. I personally know of at least three lawyers in New York who have successfully started restaurants. I have also heard about hundreds of other types of businesses, from a company that installs/teaches word processing programs in law firms to a store that specializes exclusively in selling different varieties of mustard! Entrepreneurs find their law degrees very useful in negotiating contracts, etc., and are often very successful in business.
Others have no desire to endure the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, but want to work for a business rather than a law firm and use business skills rather than practice law. Investment banking, real estate development, and management consulting are examples of business-world professions lawyers move into. Many make the transition from corporate or real estate lawyer at a big firm to investment banker or real estate developer.
Many lawyers started out as English majors and find law practice to be lacking in creativity - although they are usually excellent writers and researchers when they do practice. Many go into the writing and advertising fields. Examples include: staff editor for a legal publishing company; reporter for a legal newspaper or legal reporter for a regular newspaper; and copywriter for an advertising firm that has law firms as clients. If lawyers want move into writing, it usually has to be something legal, at least to start. A primary way to get into writing is to get "clips", or writing samples - write for free if you have to in order to build up your portfolio. Unlike most "alternative legal careers," legal editor positions are sometimes actually advertised in the classified ads - look under "attorney" and also under "editor."
This is a broader category which includes some of the following: Working in academia - either in the administration, teaching, legal writing or as a clinical instructor; Quasi-legal positions in government, nonprofit institutions, or think tanks, and politics/public policy positions - these types of positions are obviously more available in Washington D.C, or in your state capitol.
This is only a start. There are many, many possibilities. For more information and possible job titles, see Alternative Careers for Lawyers. Good luck!
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.