Undoubtedly, lawyers and law students of all ages at a certain point in their careers have asked themselves, what else is out there?
Whether graduating from law school or seeking a second career, this article explores the alternative career paths that you can take, utilising your law degree and the transferable skills that you have picked up whilst studying law.
A business development executive or manager is someone who reaches out to clients, generates leads and drives sales in an organisation. They’re responsible for getting new clients on board and managing existing ones. This client-facing role requires strong communication and interpersonal skills.
As a lawyer, you already possess these skills and can put them to use while preparing and making pitches for potential clients. You have to be highly personable with a likeable personality and a knack for marketing techniques to make it as a business development executive or manager.
A good way to start off is by showing interest in making the move across your firm itself if it has an in-house business development department since law firms require professionals who can reach out to clients and generate leads. You, as a lawyer at the firm, would understand the needs of a legal business and know its strengths and would therefore be best suited to spot opportunities and pitch ideas.
A content writer is someone who writes useful material for an organization. This can be long-form or short-form content. If you are a young law student or lawyer with an interest in writing, this is a viable career option.
Your typical day would be writing various marketing materials like emails, blogs, newsletters, etc. With the rise of many online agencies and marketing agencies, the role of a content writer is unlikely to go away anytime soon and offers a very flexible, often remote lifestyle.
There are also plenty of legal organizations that need content writers who understand legal issues (e.g. bar associations, legal service providers, etc.). Digital legal marketing is one of the fastest-growing and legal marketing relies heavily on quality legal content. With your understanding of the law, legal research and writing skills you will in the best position to provide the content these organisations need.
Legal recruitment and Human Resources
The recruitment industry is always on the lookout for smart, corporate professionals. If you love to be paid for what you put in, enjoy helping people and have a relatively high EQ, recruitment is a great career option for you.
If you don’t want to steer far away from the legal world, you can opt for legal recruiting as well. firms often require people with a considerable amount of experience in the legal world for their recruitment needs. Many law school graduates are well-positioned to leverage networks (like you may have on LinkedIn) to create a rewarding career as a recruiter.
If being a legal recruiter isn’t your dream, you still might enjoy working in Human Resources where you can utilise your interpersonal and public relations skills in furtherance of your company’s hiring goals. As a human resources officer, you will develop, advise on and implement policies relating to the effective use of staff in an organisation. This can include employee recruitment, training and development, the provision of compensation and benefits, the implementation of disciplinary procedures and conflict resolution. This role therefore requires good interpersonal, organisational and negotiation skills. These are all qualities that are developed during a law degree.
Further, there are laws for recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and firing. Understanding these laws is an important role for a human resources officer/manager, making it a fine choice for people with a legal education who don’t want to work in typical legal careers.
If you are someone who enjoys a high pressure and competitive working environment, then you might want to consider moving into investment banking. It’s highly incentivised and can be hugely lucrative, without the lockstep system slowing you down. It’s best for those who want to be on the “business” side of transactions.
Depending on your educational background, many firms will hire lawyers as junior analysts and trust them to learn the ropes in lieu of a finance degree.
Typically, you’re going to have the best luck in this route if you’re already working in BigLaw and have some experience working with investment banking clients (in fact, your LinkedIn contacts might be a great place to start searching for a job in this industry).
A popular alternative career for lawyers, compliance officers typically work in-house and are responsible for a company’s financial conduct and ultimately ensuring that it complies with the relevant national and international regulations and its reporting obligations.
Compliance work is available at a range of different financial organisations and a legal background is definitely a plus.
Taxation is another field for which law graduates are well suited.
Tax consultants offer advice to businesses or private clients on their tax liabilities and cost-effective tax solutions. Each year’s budget introduces new tax legislation, so a background in analysing legal changes is extremely useful. This means that tax consultancy firms actively seek to recruit law students.
Moreover, your law degree can exempt you from some of the exams tax practitioners sit to gain the professional qualifications needed to become a tax consultant, so you are already partly on the way there!
Are you someone that loves law but not the business aspect of it? If so, then taking the academic route is a great option. Teaching law can be a highly rewarding and fulfilling experience for many who love the nitty-gritty of law and are keen to help shape the next generation of lawyers and law professionals. This might be particularly attractive if you have spent some of your time in law school as a research assistant or teaching assistant. Strong publications and research records will also help you in securing a full-time academic appointment.
If you do want to teach, law school may not be your only option. Most colleges and many high schools have dedicated legal courses as well. Your law degree can help you stand apart as an extremely qualified candidate. While you won’t be teaching law students, you will have the opportunity to inspire young people who may be interested in a legal career.
Government and Politics
Put that political science degree to work! Consider competing for an elected or appointed position at the municipal, provincial or federal level. Become a political advisor, policy analyst, campaign manager or lobbyist.
It’s no secret that many political leaders went to law school. A fundamental understanding of government and the law is essential to a career as a politician. Your in-depth analytical and problem-solving skills will also be quite useful in this role.
Of course, transitioning to a life in politics is easier said than done. One way to connect with your local political party of choice is to work on a campaign for a leading politician.
Lawyers with experience and interest in the litigation and advocacy side of the practice in areas like family law, consumer law and general commercial litigation might consider stepping into a mediation role. As people increasingly want to settle disputes out of court to avoid the expense and procedural exhaustion, more and more individuals and corporations are turning to mediation as the first attempt of resolving disputes outside the court.
A mediator guides conflicting parties through negotiation with the goal of settling on a mutually agreed-upon solution. A good mediator will understand the law and be able to help adverse parties move toward a mutually-agreeable resolution. In law school, you probably learned a lot about negotiations and how to argue effectively. You may have even taken a course in dispute resolution. These skills will provide a great foundation for a career as a mediator. Some mediators work within the court system, while others can find positions within the private sector.
We hope this article has given you some insight on a few of the alternative legal careers out there that would value your qualifications, and that you can have a career in law without becoming a solicitor or barrister. Make sure to remember though that this is just the starting point to get you thinking. The next step is to go out there, research and start speaking to people within the industries that resonate with you and to try and see where that takes you.
Nirali graduated with a Distinction upon studying the full-time Legal Practice Course (LPC) at BPP University. She is currently working as an in-house Legal Advisor for a company in the Middle East.
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