What Other Fields Besides Law Can I Use My JD In?

Not sure that being an attorney is right for you? Learn more about other options that might be well suited to someone with a legal background.

After Law School, What Options Are Available Besides Becoming an Attorney?

Q: I'm a prospective law school student, but I'm not sure that being an attorney is the right thing for me. I enjoy the law and I love to argue. However, when I get out of law school, are there any other options for me instead of becoming an attorney that is law/argue oriented?

A: I would suggest doing some serious thinking about whether law school would be the best path for you in the first place. It is such an investment in time and money that a thorough self-assessment with regards to your preferred interests, skills, values and related careers is warranted.

With regards to options related to law I would suggest looking at the following books:

 

Making a Career Switch But Still Utilizing My Legal Training

Q: I have 11 years experience with a major insurance company, a CPCU designation, close to completion of a ChFC designation, a law degree, one state bar license, but only 8 months practice experience. I'm currently in a management development program at the insurance company, but would like to consider a switch back to something that would use my legal training more. However, I don't want to go back into traditional practice. What would be a good path that would leverage my background?

A: You may want to consider returning to the business sector. One area that could use your skill set, if you are interested, is Project Finance/ Business Development. You would be part of a team that develops, finances, and constructs/implements various projects. This line of work is quite lucrative, if you can bring in the projects. However, the downside is that it usually requires lots of travel and many extra hours, especially whenever you are trying to close a deal. You can refer to section in Judgment Reversed that describes these careers if you are not already familiar with them.

Another area that you might consider is management consulting. Your background is suited for some consulting firms that provide expertise to clients regarding various aspects of their business. This type of work would also help to broaden your experience in the business sector. Furthermore, many people use consulting firm experience as a conduit to higher level corporate jobs. Remember, no matter what you choose make sure that you focus on the Triple Point: Concentrate on a high value career in a high value field with a leading edge company.

What Do Management Consultants Do?

Q: I have a legal background but am not convinced that a career in law will be a good long-term solution for me. I have heard that a significant number of lawyers go into management consulting and am wondering what management consultants do. Can you give me an idea of what that job entails?

A: Management consultants advise businesses how to run their companies. There are a wide range of management consulting firms specializing in helping clients with certain problems and situations. Sometimes a consultants work involves very short-term tactical tasks like helping to launch a new product. Other times, they stay with the company to see through their recommendations on, for instance, a three-year plan. This type of career requires strong interpersonal skills, good communications skills, and the ability to analyze and simplify a problem.

What Does an Investment Banker Do?

Q: I often hear attorneys leaving firm positions to work for investment banks in non-lawyer positions. What type of position do these former attorneys take in the I-banks? What kind of work do they do and how does it differ for law firm practice? What can current attorneys do to better their chances of transferring to an I-bank?

A: Investment banks typically send multi-disciplined teams to work with clients on investment projects. These teams are a good place for an attorney with finance or business experience. As you become acquainted with all aspects of the project financing process, you can take more responsibility within the group. Next, you can move to a group that finances larger projects, ultimately ending up as a team leader of a large project group, a position with a great deal of authority and financial potential.

I Love Researching and Writing, But Not Practicing Law

Q: I am a recent law school grad/bar admit. I have started off in litigation, and am, for a variety of reasons, dissatisfied with litigation, and maybe even practicing law.

I love research and writing, so I thought a career in legal publishing, journalism, etc. would be more suited to my interests and temperament. How do I break into the business?

A: Breaking into legal publishing or journalism is a great idea, because unlike other alternatives to law, it does not necessarily require retraining or expensive education. If you are a good writer, all you really need are "clips" to break in. For those who don't know, clips are copies of articles that you have written which you would send to a newspaper or magazine that you would like to write for. It's not hard to get clips if you are willing to write for free, at the beginning. Write for your local legal newspaper, bar association newsletter, or even a local community paper to start. Try to find a cutting edge legal development that has not been written about. Write or call one of the editors and pitch your idea--remember that as a practicing lawyer, you will be considered an expert. Once you have developed a body of clips, you can then approach publications that pay, and write freelance article s for them,and also apply for paying full-time jobs in journalism, using your legal expertise and writing experience as your main selling points.