By the word `lawyer’, all we can think of is a person wearing a black coat, arguing in court. But you must remember that not everyone enjoys wearing black coats and neither arguing nor going through millions of documents day after day. Law as a profession has evolved in a multi-faceted manner. Law students and even lawyers these days are increasingly shifting and switching careers.
Why Consider Career Change?
After Covid-19, work-from-home (WFH) culture has evolved and the trend these days is to follow the less-traveled road. You realize that you want to leave legal practice, and are trying to figure out the best alternative careers for lawyers. Or perhaps you are not totally sure that you want to leave, but you definitely want to at least see what options are out there.
The very thought of leaving law is definitely an overwhelming moment. Why you want to leave, and what is wrong with legal practice is something you should figure out first.
It’s no secret that being a lawyer is one of the most stressful jobs that you can have. There are task forces, books, and most importantly, you do not want to remain a student all your life!
You are stressed because you are overworked and have no time for anything else. Not every lawyer is driven primarily by wanting to go to the most prestigious institution or land the most prestigious job.
Another fact is that the legal job market is very competitive. Lawyers experience a statistically significantly higher rate of mental illness and substance abuse than people in other professions.
Alternative Careers for Law Students and Graduates
Before we plunge into the specifics, let us make one thing clear- if you are a lawyer, basically any career is a possible alternative career for you. So if you are wondering what else you can do with your law degree other than being a lawyer, I want you to know that there are lots of options open for you.
There are various professions you can choose from, without practicing as a lawyer. Here we will discuss a few career options after law.
Education and Academic Administration
There are opportunities to teach in paralegal colleges and continuing legal education societies, even without requiring a master’s degree in law. A legal degree is useful in non-teaching positions at universities, such as a student complaints officer, disability services coordinator, or student affairs director. Law schools, in particular, welcome legally-trained individuals to work in admissions, alumni relations, career services, and law libraries.
Banking and Finance
With an experience in securities, trusts, estates, tax, or banking law, you can venture into a career in the banking and finance industry. The positions you can hold are risk manager, estate planning advisor, trust officer, financial planner, commercial loans officer, and mutual fund administrator.
In the present scenario arbitration, mediation and negotiation are flourishing fields employing individuals with legal backgrounds as arbitrators and mediators. Labour unions, hospitals, school associations, banks, universities, and government agencies all hire professionals with strong communication and dispute-resolution skills. The mediation position is not full-time. It is usually on a contract basis to assist with a specific dispute.
Government and Politics
The government often hires lawyers; for policy analysis and to gather and research information. To examine issues in written reports and coordinate. Matters range from health and transportation to education and the environment. Politics is also a popular field for lawyers. Positions include speechwriter, political fundraiser, campaign manager, lobbyist, or even political candidate.
Companies require professionals to recruit new people and supervise their staff. Here you can work as a hiring coordinator, human resources administrator, or training manager. Working within the legal profession but not as a lawyer; legal knowledge is an advantage for a job as a law firm administrator, head of associate recruiting, marketing director, or professional development manager.
Management Consulting (Legal Consulting)
A legal consultant is a professional who provides legal guidance to businesses and individuals. This job title is replaceable with the title of a legal advisor. While the role has almost the same responsibilities as lawyers, they solely provide legal advice outside the courtroom. Common fields they work in include business law, real estate, foreign affairs, and financial law.
Firms hire legal consultants to ensure that they are making legal decisions and developing business practices that follow the law. If you have made up your mind in leaving legal practice, then consulting is a good option.
It can be a demanding career and you can prepare to work similar hours as you would in practice. You get exposure to a wide range of businesses and industries and can choose to specialize over time. This role requires high-level analytical skills and a high degree of creativity.
If you’re tech-savvy, you can put your knowledge about legal software to work as an information technology consultant. With a nursing background, you can work as a legal nurse consultant, reviewing medical records in medical malpractice and personal injury cases, providing advice to the lawyers involved, and acting as an expert witness.
Legal writing, editing, and publishing
Your research and writing skills are useful. Several lawyers work as freelance legal writers and editors – contributing articles for legal publications. You can consider researching and writing booklets on hot legal topics like divorce and landlord-tenancy matters; for poverty law groups and government-funded organizations.
You can be legal or business columnists for newspapers and magazines or write content for law firm websites or are full-time editors for bar association newsletters and law, business, or accounting publications.
A law degree holder can also venture out into the field of legal journalism. It is a preferred field for people who like to stay on top of current happenings and have a way to play with words. Journalism is a natural role for someone who has spent years writing.
Lawyers in general have exceptional interview and investigatory skills, and a real interest in telling people’s stories. The road to success is a long one, but there are opportunities in various formats if you’re willing to start at the beginning.
Freelancing is an attractive alternative career option. It is an independent professional and not a part of any organization. With the emergence of new technologies and platforms, there is a rapid increase in outsourcing of work generating a lot of opportunities for individuals.
Many companies seek individuals who can manage their compliance, contract drafting, and legal strategy in a cost-efficient manner.
Public Relations is another alternative career option for lawyers. With good networking and building professional relationships, PR is perhaps a feasible option for you.
Big corporate firms and companies hire PR these days. With an increasing number of smaller, boutique agencies coming up, you may find a more concrete role.
To sum up, do what excites you and as a lawyer, there is no scarcity of diverse opportunities. All you need to do is find your passion, and excel in it, and success will automatically follow.
Law graduates understand how the judiciary system functions in a country. They develop skills that are valued and can be utilized in other fields. If you do not want to pursue a career in legal practice, there are a number of alternatives. This makes a law degree so prominent and versatile in nature.