Getting out of Law

Q. I’m a lawyer who’s never taken to the legal profession. Can I look forward to other career options?

A. What your question does not tell me is if you’ve “gone off” the law entirely, or simply don’t want to work in a law firm, where you have to bill in excess of 2,000 hours a year and never see your family.

Let’s assume for the moment, that the mere thought of having “lawyer” or “attorney” in your title (or, for that matter, partner or judge) makes you break out in hives. Are there other options? Absolutely. By definition, you’re smart, you know how to think and reason, and can write well. The trick now is to convince someone to hire you and pay you enough to satisfy the student loan collectors or mortgage company.

Lawyers who are looking for jobs outside the law often believe that they can do anything, if only given a chance. They also tend to look for equivalent salaries to those they would have made in private practice. Here’s where you often have to eat some humble pie. To get your foot in the door, you must convince an employer that you can do the job they need to have done. Sometimes, that means you’ll be promoting skills, such as your marketing ability, that require far fewer brain cells than your legal studies. You may also have to consider a salary substantially lower than your peers in the legal world. Ultimately, your educational background may help you do your work better or more efficiently – and many law-trained graduates reach the pinnacles of industry — but there’s no guarantee that you’ll move ahead more quickly than your peers with bachelor’s degrees or MBAs. The good news is that if you really don’t want to be a lawyer, you’ll be much happier in your chosen profession.

The trend now is for students to take off a year or two before attending law school. Given the numbers of lawyers who’d prefer to be doing something other than the law, having time to reflect on what you want to do before jumping into the next stage of education is a great idea!


  1. PGM says:

    Hi: I understand completely the feeling of not liking the law, although its a hard thing to exit – taking less salary is one thing, but starting over is another, especially as we get older. I never excelled in law because of my aversion to it and the personalities that populate the profession. Unfortunatley, the huge debt I incurred keeps me at it, smiling at BMW driving yuppies each day until I pay the loans off. You are right, we do well in certain areas and I hope to find a position in operations management for a small to medium sized company that can pay me half what I am making as a corporate attorney. I would rather take less than face another day as a lawyer. I hope at least the remaining years of my working life are spent never seeing another attorney unless its absolutely necessary!

  2. An interersting discussion is definitely worth comment. I believe that you ought to publish more on this subject, it
    may not be a taboo subject but typically people do not talk about
    such topics.To the next! Cheers!!

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