Alternatives to Practicing Law
Given the dissatisfaction rampant in the legal profession and the problems inherent in creating a part-time schedule, man lawyers now face tremendously difficult decisions:

· Do I give up the practice of law entirely?
· Is there some way to combine my practice with my other, equally important interests?
· Can I combine my practice with raising a family?
· If I do give up my practice, what else can I do with a degree?
· How much money will I earn?
· How do I find a new job?

These questions, which have become all too common, often lead to a state of panic from which no rational decision can be made. There are no Martindale-Hubbell listings for nontraditional or part-time lawyers. For lawyers trained in the highly structured law school environment where getting hired was almost part of the curriculum, the prospect of leaving the profession can be daunting.

The good news for the lawyer pursuing alternative work arrangements is that what first appears as a murky road toward instability can be broken down systematically and logically into a series of viable options. Even more encouraging is the tremendous wealth of resource materials that have appeared in recent years. The world of nontraditional/alternative careers has developed into a veritable industry, ranging from books to newsletters to specialized career counseling consultants. As the industry evolves, these positions will become both more readily available and more “acceptable” in the eyes of the legal profession.

In general, making the move out of a traditional legal position involves three components: self-assessment, analysis of possible options, and decision-making implementation. Examination of these components should not be treated in a simplistic manner. If you are dissatisfied with your practice, think about exactly why you are unhappy. Do you really dislike the practice of law? Or is it just that you hate writing briefs? Or that you hate working until 9:00 p.m. most nights and can't juggle work and family? Or that you hate living in a large urban environment?

Since practice in the legal profession is preceded by a rigorous course of study most often extracting a three-year commitment of time, energy and financial resources, it is readily understandable that any lawyer would first give serious thought to the implications of making a major move. A comprehensive self-assessment to elicit the potential for change may include, among other things, one's tenure and progression in the legal profession, the skills and experience acquired that may be transferred to another setting, the compensation differentials that may accompany such a change, the substantive knowledge required, the impact on personal or family lifestyle, whether the change translates into short-term or long-term employment, and most important, whether making the change will bring success in achieving the lawyer's ultimate goal.

After careful thought and analysis many lawyers realize it is not the practice of law in itself that bothers them. For example, one lawyer realized he was unhappy because he hated writing the memos and briefs necessary to litigation. He is now happily employed as a corporate lawyer with a large biomedical engineering company. Some lawyers, of course, do realize they were never intended to be lawyers in the first place and choose to make a gracious exit. Coming to an understanding of why they do not enjoy practicing law allows them to be firm in the knowledge that they have exhausted their options and frees them of guilt and doubt about leaving the profession. . . .

NonLegal and Legally Related Job Titles:

Although there is no magical "list" of jobs for lawyers (especially high paying jobs), the following job titles held by lawyers may serve as means for brainstorming. We either personally know or have heard about a lawyer transitioning into every job title listed.

· Agent
· Arbitrator
· Assistant/ Associate Dean
· Auditor
· Author
· Accountant
· Bank Vice President
· Bar Association Administrator
· Career Counselor
· Certified Financial Planner
· Commercial Real Estate Agent
· Computer Consultant
· Corporate Trainer
· Contract Attorney
· Department Store Buyer
· Designer/Developer of Trial Visual Aides
· Deposition Videographer
· Director of Career Services, Admissions or Alumni Affairs
· Editor
· Executive Director of Nonprofit Agencies
· Fundraiser
· Investment Banker
· Journalist
· Jury Consultant
· Law Librarian
· Law Professor
· Legislative Analyst
· Lobbyist
· Management Consultant
· Mediator
· Legal Software Developer/Vendor
· Legal Consultant
· Legal Headhunter
· Politician/Political Advisor
· President of a Corporation
· Psychologist
· Real Estate Developer
· Restaurant Owner
· Screenwriter
· Small Business Owner
· Special Event/Conference Planner
· Stockbroker
· Title Examiner
· Trust Officer/Estate Administrator

As you begin to explore alternative career options, associations are an excellent place to start your research. Almost every industry has one or more associations analogous to the American Bar Association. Most associations can provide you with information, a calendar of events, a membership directory and committee roster, educational programming information and a newsletter, often containing job listings.

Excerpted from Jobs for Lawyers by Hillary Jane Mantis & Kathleen Brady (Impact Publications 1996).

Hillary Mantis

Hillary Mantis, Esq., has been a career counselor for over 10 years and has authored career books, including Alternative Careers for Lawyers, and Jobs For Lawyers: Effective Techniques for Getting Hired in Today’s Legal Marketplace (published by Impact Publications). For more information about private career counseling, e mail

Purchase a copy of Alternative Careers for Lawyers

Purchase a copy of Jobs for Lawyers

Read more about Hillary Mantis

Hillary Mantis's Articles

Assess Where You Are Going
Alternatives to Practicing Law
Consider Your Options
The Job Search: The Basics
Profiles of Lawyers Who Have Left the Law
Sample Cover Letter
Networking: Overcoming the Fear of Being Labeled a "User"
Five Impediments (to Overcome) to Working a Room
Interviews: Strategies for Overcoming Barriers
The Resume

Hillary Mantis's Career Management and Planning Q&A's

The Best Job Search Process For A Third Year Student
Can a foreign lawyer find a job in a NY law firm?
Going In-House For Litigators - Does It Change Your Practice?
How To Increase The Odds In Finding A Job
How to parlay a law degrees into a career in business/finance

View all by this author

FindLaw Career Center

    Search for Law Jobs:

      Post a Job  |  View More Jobs
Ads by FindLaw