Law practitioners aren’t immune from the drive to seek change once in awhile. People quite often discover that their career path isn’t working out anymore. Some don’t start feeling this way until they’ve been working for 20 years.
Some people realize it before they graduate.
Either way, your schooling and your experience isn’t wasted. If you discount it, you might miss some significant new opportunities. If you got into law due to a passion for helping people and seeking justice, there are ways to do that in other professions too.
If you’ve decided that working with a law firm isn’t for you, it’s an opportunity to chase other passions without departing completely from your previous accomplishments.
Law in Healthcare
The medical field is, as you probably already know, fraught with legal potholes. You likely keep track of the high-profile class-action lawsuits occurring quite regularly, especially concerning workplace safety and carcinogenic materials. But the healthcare industry is involved with smaller scale legal entanglements all the time too.
Legal nurse consultants bridge the gap between law and healthcare. They often advise attorneys, are called on as expert witnesses during cases, or help to examine insurance claims. You’d need to become a registered nurse to transition into a career like this, but if you still enjoy working with other attorneys and being in the courtroom, this is a change that will keep you in the loop.
Criminology and Criminal Justice
Here’s a highly relevant transition. If you work in civil law and want to transition to criminal law, or if you want to move out of the courtroom and engage with law on more of a policy level, this is a great way to go.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg in the kinds of possibilities that criminology opens up. If one of your passions is helping disadvantaged communities or victims, there are jobs in counselling, youth and welfare services, victim caseworkers and advocates.
This route also opens up jobs in direct law enforcement. In a more traditional attorney role, many police departments employ a legal affairs team to advise them and handle internal matters. On the other hand, your law background could also make you a good candidate to work in a federal law enforcement agency like the FBI,
Supplementing your education with criminology opens up a wide range of careers that allow you to engage with the legal system depending on your passions. If you’re very passionate about advocating for the rights of victims, there’s a job for that.
If you’re interested in the research side of things, teaching, or creating law enforcement policy, you’d likely be a welcome addition to an educational or research institution.
Here’s where the options really open up. Every company, and I mean every company, that expects to survive needs either law experts on staff or very good consultation. Human resources professionals are governed by strict regulations on both the federal and state level.
Your experience in law makes you an extremely attractive candidate for human resources positions across, well, pick an industry. Hang up a list and toss a dart. If you’ve always been attracted to the rush of working for a tech startup, or the cultural significance of working in the arts sector, human resources is a fantastic way in.
This is before we even get into the potential of public sector careers in occupational health and safety, public interest law groups and other careers in advocacy and policy.
Start Your Own Business!
Seriously! As a business owner, your experience in law will arm you with everything you need to protect your company from catastrophic mistakes during startup and the kind of work ethic that entrepreneurs need for success.
You already know so much that most people have to learn the hard way — like not moving forward with a plan until you have data to back it up. Proving that your conclusions hold up to scrutiny is one of the biggest challenges that modern digital marketers face. Marketing goes hand in hand with research; so does growing a business and providing services that people actually want.
This is just a short list. When you’ve spent such an enormous amount of time, energy, and money on becoming a law professional, it can be painful to consider giving it up. So don’t! You can still transition into a fulfilling career that makes use of everything you worked so hard for. You can always keep learning and growing.
Brooke Faulkner is a law and math nerd from the pacific northwest. She previously contributed to LawFuel here.