Seeks Career Change Because of “nastiness, obsession with technicalities and the lack of concern with justice” in the profession

I hate the nastiness, obsession with technicalities and the lack of concern with justice that I see throughout this profession. Are there career alternatives for lawyers where employers would value a law degree, but you would not be practicing law?

In responding to your question, we are incorporating the comments of two lawyer-career consultants, Ron Fox (Center for Professional Development in the Law in Cambridge, www.shore.net/~cpdl)) and Beth Falk (Odyssey Consulting in Arlington, www.odyssey-consulting.com). Ron notes that many lawyers leave the field with “little knowledge of the wide range of satisfying options they have within the practice of law,” not adequately informed initially by law schools. He points out that 65% of practicing attorneys work in firms of 5 or fewer lawyers, and that small firm work itself may be an “alternative career” option. Ron is impressed by “the satisfaction of the lawyers who for years have represented individuals with personal plight issues in the areas of discrimination, healthcare, immigration, employment, housing, abuse and education. Sadly, if all lawyers who felt the way the questioner here does left the law, the only lawyers left would be those with little concern for justice and the law would no longer be entitled to be called a profession.”

While employers in most career alternatives would value a person with a law degree, you must first make clear your qualifications for an existing position, and then note the many advantages that a law degree provides. Ron cautions against making too sudden a move, and advocates a systematic process of vocational testing and step-by-step decisions about setting, industry, duties, etc.

According to Beth, while there is not necessarily a fixed group of positions that lawyers should pursue, some of the most natural transitions are to fields such as public affairs/lobbying (where understanding the legislative and court systems is a real asset), legal education, law-related journalism and legal research (especially for some of the developing legal web sites). “Your options outside the law, however, are really limited only by your willingness to market yourself to non-legal employers. Think about what your law practice has taught you: are you a skilled oral advocate? Perhaps you’d be a good corporate spokesperson or public relations executive. Are your particularly adept with clients? You may move easily into a counseling profession. Is your substantive knowledge of corporate and financial matters strong? You can likely find a position in business in or outside a corporate legal department. And good lawyers tend to make good teachers.” Although prospective employers may be ignorant about what lawyers do, or concerned about why you’re leaving the profession, “your own work to educate employers and to explain your situation in a positive light can work wonders.”

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