Are you worried that you might spend three years and thousands of dollars on law school and then decide you don’t enjoy practicing law? After all, you’ve never done it... how will you know it’s the right career for you? While you can do some research in advance to see if you think it’s a good fit, there’s just no way to know for sure until you’re actually out there, working in the field. It’s not as big a risk as you might think, however. Law school provides a solid foundation for many other careers and a law degree is attractive to many employers. Here are a few alternative jobs for lawyers:
Lawyers are smart. They tend to be driven, analytical and focused. All are great qualities for entrerpreneurs. You might open your own business doing anything under the sun—from a dry cleaning business to a landscape design company. You may be able to translate a favorite hobby or other talent into satisfying, rewarding work. And, as someone with a law degree, you’ve got experience negotiating contracts and keeping an eye on your hourly earnings.
Some people go into law hoping that they’ll be able to make a difference in their community by helping the indigent or unfortunate. Translating a law degree into non-profit advocacy work can be a great fit for burnt-out attorneys. Non-profits will be thrilled to have your expertise and knowledge of the law, too.
You’re organized and have great verbal skills. In law school, you’ve learned to speak in front of large groups of people while being both convincing and engaging. Sound a little like teaching in a classroom? Lawyers transition to teaching careers in a number of venues—from elementary schools to business schools to law departments at universities.
Speaking of speaking in public... you might consider a career as a motivational speaker or personal coach. Working with law clients requires patience and often a nurturing, encouraging manner. Translate that into working with clients who need motivation to help them in their businesses and you might have found the perfect new gig. Affect larger groups of people at once with a career as a public speaker.
Lawyers’ written communication skills come in handy in many careers, including writing. Patent attorneys are well-situated to work as technical writers, and have many contact in the field already. You might write textbooks about law or your specialized field. You could even write novels—John Grisham made the switch, which has seemed to work out well for him!
Many lawyers decide that their clients’ careers sound better, and make the switch. If you’re an attorney who’s specialized in tax law or real estate law, for instance, you might decide that working as an accountant or Realtor makes sense. You’ll already possess a wealth of knowledge about the field, and you’ll have a long list of contacts from the very beginning. Translating your law degree into a career that’s specialized like this might require you to obtain licensing or additional training.