Alternative Jobs for Lawyers

by Bob Kelly

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor noted in a speech that job dissatisfaction among lawyers is widespread, profound and growing worse. It seems that law school graduates, new and even experienced attorneys occasionally reach a point where the practice of law no longer interests them, and they seek to use their knowledge, talents and transferable skills in alternative careers. Lawyers who leave legal practice have a variety of alternative jobs they can take up.


Former practicing lawyers can transition to teaching law in universities and colleges or serving in the administration of those institutions. A lawyer who was in practice has the advantage of first-hand application of the law so he is better able to guide students in its study. A lawyer can also work in the administration of the university or college, offering academic support to students. He can also administer the institutional regulatory and compliance issues such as contract renewals, licensing and implementing equal opportunity programs.


Lawyers possess research and writing skills, and legal practice hones their ability to present information in an engaging manner, so former lawyers can make good writers. A lawyer can either leave practice to author legal publications such as textbooks and articles or to edit content for legal information websites such as Westlaw and Bloomberg Law. Alternatively, the lawyer could write fictional works such as legal thriller novels or television and film scripts based on the law. A former lawyer can also get involved in writing magazine and newspaper columns on legal issues.

Risk Management

Lawyers are always weighing the merits and demerits of pursuing a specific course of action, which gives them transferable skills to become risk managers. In practice, lawyers have the job of ascertaining where the legal liability for an action lies and how to ensure the party held responsible performs his obligations. In a risk management position, the former lawyer would be assessing the exposure of his company to any liability, and looking for ways to mitigate it. The lawyer would also use the negotiations skills acquired from legal practice to ensure that his company has adequate protection against possible risk.


Lawyers and especially litigation attorneys have skills in communication, advocacy and persuasion, which are the competencies a lobbyist requires. A lawyer has to have useful contacts and reliable networks to achieve his client satisfaction goals. Lawyer networks usually extend outside legal circles, and they build up clout in the course of their practice. Consequently, if such a lawyer sought to change careers, being a lobbyist would be a good fit as it involves exercising influence over specified targets on behalf of the employer. Lobbyists are useful in pushing the specific agendas of both profit and non-profit organizations, political and interest groups.

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