Alternative Careers for Lawyers

An Essential Guide

Here is an essential guide to alternative careers for lawyers, with a difference.

Not only does it contain the most comprehensive lists of alternative careers, it also issues a critical health warning that doesn’t usually accompany these lists.

The short version is that searching alternative career lists is rarely enough to help you make your career change.

Keep reading for the longer version, and for the career lists.

Like many of my clients, I wonder if you found your way here by searching for something like “alternative careers for lawyers”.

You’re probably disillusioned with law, and you’re looking for inspiration about what you might be able to do with the skills and experience you have.

I will be giving you two “big lists” of potential alternative careers in a little while.

First, however, I want to explain why, in my experience, looking at lists like this might not actually be the best thing for you to be doing if you are serious about exploring a career transition.

Why alternative career lists rarely help

As a career coach to lawyers - and former lawyer who left law - I know from most of my clients and my own experience that having lists of “career options” just isn’t enough to help with a decision as large as a career change is.

Rather than being inspirational, lists are often restrictive.

They tend to give you a blinkered approach and won’t enable you to find possibilities that might be perfect for you but aren’t on the alternative careers for lawyers.

Your ideal job might be something that neither of us knows about right now.

By avoiding lists, you allow yourself the freedom to take actions that will take you in an ideal direction, rather than the direction bounded by a list of alternative career ideas for lawyers.

Increasingly, the best route for many of my career change clients is not an alternative career in the traditional sense at all.

For example, the option of doing more than one job as part of a portfolio career.

Perhaps the best fit for you would be to set up your own business.

Or it may even be that the best solution is to make a small change to your current work to make it a better fit for what you’re looking for in your career.

Although a common way to start a career change journey, lists of job titles and career options rarely end up giving you “the answer” to the perfect alternative career outside the law.

What you should be doing instead

Your first task should be to focus on you, and not on potential careers.

You need to be asking yourself some important questions early on in your career change process:

  • What do you actually want from a career, from a job, from life?
  • What are your likes and dislikes?
  • What are your values?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are your interests - both work and non-work related?

If you don’t start your career change journey with some self-reflection and get clarity on what your career criteria actually are, how will you know you have found the right career fit when you find something that feels like a good alternative to being a lawyer?

Your next task should be to actually take some action!

This is where lists and searching for alternative careers for lawyers can feel like you’re doing something, but you’re not actively doing anything to move forward.

The action you most need to take is to follow your curiosity and get out into the world to explore this further.

There is no substitute for speaking with other people - either those who are doing work that interests you, are working at organisations that align with your values, or who have already taken the journey you are considering by leaving the law.

Most lawyers don’t end up making a change because they try to work out the answer in their heads.

They seek to problem solve it using the cognitive part of the brain.

That’s not surprising, it’s one of the traits that makes a good lawyer.

However, clarity around an alternative career path rarely comes from thinking. It comes from taking action.

This can be difficult because it means living with uncertainty and trusting the process and some people can be reluctant to take positive action when there’s no obvious career move on the horizon.

The Big Lists of Alternative Careers for Lawyers

Right, then!

As promised, here comes the comprehensive lists I’ve compiled based on the real-life journeys many career changers have taken.

But just one more caveat before we reach the Holy Grail you’ve been patiently waiting for.

Don’t treat these as definitive lists and start attempting to figure out which of these options is right for you.

Instead, review the lists and make a note of those things that appeal to you in some way, no matter how small.

Then review again and identify any common themes among them.

Now take those common threads and the career lists and use them to direct your exploration out there in the real world.

I hope you find those lists a good starting point on your journey of exploration and positive action.

It might seem daunting, but I want you to realise that many people have gone down this road before you and have made a successful career transition that has made them happier and more fulfilled.

If you want to read some interviews with lawyers who have changed careers into a wide range of different areas (inside and outside the law) you can find their career change stories here.

And now for those big lists of alternative careers (click on the + sign to open)...