While so many of the tools and advice here will help lawyers, the site reachable by clicking the title specifically addresses legal job search.
I’ve helped several lawyers move out of firm work and into staff counsel jobs, and even out of the legal field altogether. In fact the first people I helped with job search were two lawyers who HATED being lawyers.
One ended up staying a lawyer, albeit in a non-profit environment. The other is now doing contract law work while she works on developing her own business that has nothing to do with the law.
Several other lawyers have landed in my path, as well, all of whom are unhappy with the legal field. One wanted to work in the non-profit field, so we have together identified her strengths and transferable skills. Last week, she got an interview for a position as Volunteer Manager. We figured that if she could corral lawyers into a team, she could certainly do it with motivated volunteers!
I’ve noticed that there are two major issues faced by lawyers who decide they want to stop practicing law:
- Loss of prestige associated with being a lawyer; and,
- Reduction in pay
It takes quite a bit of time to come to terms with those realities. I’ve met a few who continue working as lawyers until they simply have had enough of compromising their values, sacrificing the rest of their lives, and feeling unfulfilled. Sometimes that takes six months, sometimes more than a year.
I think there’s a career plan that goes into effect once one starts law school, and then there’s a lot of debt that is incurred by going to law school. The career plan is that you graduate, get a well-paying, prestigious job with a big or medium-sized city law firm, work your buns off for several years, and then make partner. The high salary enables you to pay off your student loan and to live well during those few hours every week that are your own. It’s a well-traveled path and it promises certainty and solidity. Other people understand that path, and it doesn’t require a lot of thought and planning once you embark on it.
Leaving the field of law is MUCH riskier. I find it challenges people to rethink their entire life plan, and their relationship to the people in their life. Common concerns are:
- My parents and siblings have certain expectations and are so proud of me; I don’t want to disappoint them.
- My friends have this kind of lifestyle; I won’t be able to keep up with them.
- I knew what I was going to do with my life; now what on earth am I going to do?
- If I do something new, I’ll have to start at the bottom; I’d feel so dumb!
Confronting these questions can take time, and requires patience. Eventually, people come to terms with what they REALLY want, what they really value, and the steps they are willing to take to achieve their dreams. There is life after the law, once you begin traveling the road to being satisfied with your life.