Burnout, stress, or the curiosity of exploring a new career path are some of the most common reasons lawyers change careers. After all, for some, the idea of being a lawyer might have turned out to be pretty different than the reality of working at a firm.
Before making any immediate changes, be as clear as possible about why you’re looking for a career shift and what you’re looking for in your next role. With these insights at hand, you’ll be better positioned to strategically move forward — and even keep one foot in the door behind you as you go.
Find out everything you should know about making a career change as a lawyer.
When to Change Careers as a Lawyer
Being a lawyer can consume much of your time and energy. Maybe you’re facing a big life change and looking for more work/life balance or you’re tired of big law and considering solo practice. Alternatively, your talents and personality may be better suited for another field entirely.
When considering your need for a change, ask yourself these questions:
- What do I enjoy about my work in law?
- What depletes my energy as a lawyer? What do I enjoy least?
- What are my passions? When do I feel most fulfilled or energized?
- What is my ideal work culture? Management style? Company culture?
Then, comb through your skillset. Reflect on your strengths as a lawyer. You might excel at analysis and research, or you could also be an expert persuasive communicator.
This way, you can start thinking about other careers that might match well, or even better, with those in-demand skills. A strong negotiator could be well suited for a sales career or even running a company. Skilled researchers could become regulatory investigators or corporate analysts. Practicing law develops a host of skills that can readily transfer to many careers in the public and private sectors.
Alternative Careers for Lawyers
The list goes on and on for viable alternative careers for lawyers. As you shift away from legal practice, here are a few career paths to consider:
- Legal consulting: This path lets you continue working on your lawyer skill set at a distance from the courtroom. You could be a consultant for a company or private individuals, advising clients on tricky legal issues and offering recommendations.
- Legal project management: Legal project managers get to be involved with legal cases, but from the higher level of a practice manager. They ensure that the firm stays on top of all legal tasks, monitoring the firm’s processes for inefficiencies, and implementing strategies to improve client satisfaction and drive revenue.
- Legal writing: As a legal writer, you could work anywhere from a law firm to a government agency to a marketing company or even a newspaper. If you like uncovering stories and informing the public, journalism could make a good fit. If you don’t want to walk out of a law practice entirely, you could focus on case research and write legal documents.
- Legal billing specialist: If numbers are your sweet spot, consider legal billing. You’ll research any issues related to billing, prepare invoices and proformas, and ensure a firm gets paid for its services.
Pro Tip: No matter the legal profession track, having a working knowledge of law practice management software can give you a competitive edge in the market. With PracticePanther’s free certification program, you’ll gain the resources to become an expert in lucrative legal technology processes like project management and methods to track law firm marketing.
How to Change Careers as a Lawyer
Changing careers is about more than figuring out your dream job, of course. Once you have a better sense of your transferable skills and what you enjoy doing most, it’s time to tap into your network.
If you have professional relationships and friendships outside of the law, it’s time to leverage them. These relationships will not only give you a fresh perspective on life outside of a law career, but they could also provide valuable insight and leads on your next career move. Be prepared to let your network know that you’re shifting gears and what you’re looking for next. To ensure that you don’t lose your connection to legal practice entirely, consider working pro bono as you figure out your next options or after you change careers. This way, you can do fulfilling work and keep your legal skills fresh.
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