What are your career options as a lawyer?


One of the main things my career coaching clients are struggling with when they first get in touch is identifying career options. I hear:

  • What options do I have?
  • What options would suit me best?
  • What options are realistic?

Identifying and exploring options fully can take some time. It’s a process my clients and I go deep in to during our coaching.

However, in this article I’m going to set out some of the career options open to you if you are considering a change.

Career options outlined

When you are starting out in your exploration of a possible career change , it’s useful to have thought through some of these broad options:

  • Stay where you are, doing the same work.
  • Stay where you are, do something different with your work, responsibilities and/or working relationships.
  • Move to another law firm, doing the same work as you’re doing.
  • Move to another law firm, do a different type of work.
  • Move to another law related role as a solicitor such as in-house, public sector, voluntary/charity sector, etc.
  • Move to a quasi-legal role, such as mediation or compliance.
  • Move to a legal support role, such as professional support lawyer, or another non-legal role within a law firm.
  • Make a wholesale career change to a non-legal role in another career.

To drill down from these headline options to more specific possibilities you will need to brainstorm, research and analyse along the way.

Popular alternative careers

If you know you want a change but are struggling for ideas search for other lawyers who have already made a change.

For example, I see many lawyers exploring and moving into the following popular alternative careers for lawyers:

  • In-house
  • Public sector
  • Charity and third sectors
  • Teaching/Lecturing – including GDL/LPC, CPD
  • Training & Development – within law, quasi-law and outside law
  • Legal Publishing
  • Journalism
  • Legal Research
  • Professional Support Lawyer

However, just because they’re popular doesn’t mean they’re right for you.

But, if any of them sound interesting they are definitely worth investigating further.

You have lots of options

The reality is you have lots of options, even if it doesn’t feel that way.

You can explore options as a lawyer, find quasi-legal roles or transition in to non-legal roles in law firms.

There are also countless wholesale career changes out of law.

As part of your career transition you may also want to look at transitional stepping stone roles whilst you’re exploring the bigger change for the longer term.

How you explore your options is key

The key to all of this is not to research options solely to gain more knowledge.

This is not a problem solving exercise.

Researching and thinking about ‘what else’ is unlikely to lead to a career change.

Instead, you need to investigate options in a way that helps you get some direct experience of them.

You do this out in the real world – by talking to people, attending events, getting whatever experience you can of the work connected to a particular option.

Only then can you make an informed choice about which career option is right for you next.

Career Coaching for Lawyers

  • Get unstuck and start taking action on your career change.
  • Gain clarity around what you want.
  • Generate ideas and explore career options.
  • Get support and guidance from an experienced career coach and former lawyer with 25+ years experience of the legal profession.

Matt Oliver

Matt is the founder of Law Career Plus and a former in-house lawyer (Sky Sports, London & Foxtel, Sydney). With over 12 years of experience as a career consultant & executive coach, he supports lawyers with their career development & career transitions. He does this through this website, a regular email newsletter and his one to one lawyer career coaching.

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