Law Life

Are you Ready to Leave the Law?
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If you are an unhappy lawyer who wants out, you likely still hesitate to make a career change because of the guilt at walking away from a degree in which you have invested so much time, effort, and money. Plus, presumably, you are stuck in the ‘law firm bubble’ where the topic of leaving the law is considered crazy talk, and there’s no recognition of the validity of alternative legal careers. “The Devil you know is better than the Devil you don’t,” is something that you will often hear at a law firm. 

None of these stumbling blocks actually matter if you consider your mental health—which, if you are feeling unhappy, has already been compromised.

The only thing standing between you and a career outside the practice of law is a set of crippling fears, doubts, worries, and myths.

  
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As a lawyer, you are primed to go beyond these obstacles and make the right move to a new, better career. A career that feels like the right fit—one that lets you leave the office at 5 pm and enjoy your days off, without feeling guilty.

Here are the main reasons why you’re more than ready to leave the law:

You already have transferable skills that are in demand.

What you do well can easily be applied to other fields. The good news is, lawyers have many ‘transferable’ skills that are in demand in non-law professions.  

Here are some of those skills:

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  • The ability to work under pressure
  • Conflict resolution and problem-solving
  • Writing and communication skills
  • Strategizing
  • Meeting deadlines and budgets
  • Upsell clients
  • Perform complex analyses
  • The ability to communicate an idea
  • And much more

Almost everything you do day-to-day is in demand in the “non-law universe job market.” Jobs like Chief of Staff, Business Development, Chief Operating Officer, Marketing and Sales Optimization, Account Manager, Organizational Effectiveness, and Chief Culture Officer (and many more) are all roles that your skills can fit.

So, break down the roles you are interested in and build a case to prove that you are fit for the position, by highlighting the transferable skills you learned in law school. For example, if your dream job requires communication skills, you can be confident that you are a convincing communicator.

You can learn new things very quickly

Let’s be real. At your new non-law job nobody will expect you to be an expert in the field, and it’s understandable that you may not know everything. Luckily, your law degree has already prepared you to learn things quickly. Ramping up and becoming proficient on something quickly is part of what lawyers do. 

As an attorney, you quickly become an expert on a new case or transaction or deal, so you already have the skills to learn any new industry or subject matter faster than most.

Your analytical skills will help you figure out how to get there 

In law school, you were trained to form a conclusion in a reasoned way. And now is the time to put that skill to use, especially when you are looking at jobs that, at first glance, may not seem like the best fit for a transitioning attorney. Deconstruct what you need to do to get from point A to point B and then start making a plan to get there. 

Leaving the law has been done before

You might feel alone in your decision to leave a profession that is widely considered to be immensely profitable and desirable. However, a number of famous people have left the law for an alternative career: former President Bill Clinton, Mahatma Gandhi, Hall of Fame Baseball Manager Tony LaRussa, investigative reporter Ronan Farrow, actress Rebel Wilson, and many more. Apart from the rich and famous, there are many “former attorneys” who ditch the law to pursue careers they are happy with.

There are also several resources out there that can motivate and inspire you.  

“Law is the only career I know that has a sub-profession dedicated to helping people get out of it,” says Liz Brown, author of the help manual, Life After Law: Finding Work You Love with the J.D. You Have published last year.

Leaving the law might seem difficult, but it is doable

The first step of finding the right path is to realize what you want, who you are, and what you’re good at, then move past the fears and concerns that are blocking your path to happiness. Of course, apart from soul searching, you should also figure out strategies for breaking into a new ‘non-law’ field, a task that some transitioning lawyers might find daunting.

“Law school doesn’t teach you how to market yourself,” Kate Neville, founder of Neville Career Consulting, a Washington D.C.-based firm specializing in transitioning attorneys told the Atlantic. “It’s a long and hard journey that requires the person to be persistent,” she adds. Once you overcome the need to identify with the title of “lawyer” and figure out what really makes you happy, you will become comfortable with your “non-law” job title. Understand what your specific “transferable skills” are and to which jobs they align.

In closing—get out there!



 

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