Today’s blog post is a guest contribution from author/blogger/comedian extraordinaire Noah Kovacs
Since retiring from law, Noah Kovacs has enjoyed himself blogging about small business law, legal marketing, and anything else legal, criminal or civil. He recently purchased his first cabin and spends his free time remodeling its kitchen for his family. Twitter: @NoahKovacs
Post-Lawyer Careers That Being a Lawyer Has Prepared You For
Career dissatisfaction, in my experience anyway, can be isolating. There’s something dispiriting about interacting with colleagues who are thriving in their practice, seemingly loving it, when you’re miserable (or even just discontented). Sure, some people are just made for it, however, according to the ABA statistics and the length of time you’ve practiced law, there is an excellent chance that half-to-most of your fellow attorneys are not loving their job.
So what stops great swaths of lawyers from breaking off of the legal glacier and crashing into the ocean of post-law employment? (Yes, I’m aware that my glacier analogy was amazing.) The same thing that stops anyone from throwing in the towel and seeking out their dream job: you know you can do your job, usually, but aren’t so sure that a better job is waiting out there. And how does anyone know that their skills will even translate to another profession? Well, the good news is: being a lawyer has actually admirably prepared you for any number of other professions. For a modest sampling of those post-law professions, read on:
Law Education or a Judgeship
Technically those aren’t “post-law professions”, but if you still love law, just not serving it with a practice, consider going into education or shooting for a judgeship. If teaching law to up-and-comers appeals to you but you’re not sure you have the experience for a tenured position at an Ivy League, check around with local smaller and community colleges. Or look into the process required to snare an appointment or elected position as a judge.
Do you get droopy-eyed just thinking about teaching law or sitting on that lofty judicial bench? Well, thankfully for you, law enforcement agencies from local police departments to the ATF, FBI, CIA, Department of State and Justice Department love hiring lawyers. A must-check-into for adrenaline junkies.
US Patent and Trademark Office
I included this one because, sadly, I’m not much of an adrenaline junky. Reviewing patent and trademark requests sounds really interesting to me (I’m a hit at parties), and they too dig on lawyers.
Another option that’s perhaps, subjectively, not the sexiest thing in the world but being an attorney has most definitely prepared you for it. There are too many varieties of researchers in too many fields to list here but there’s an emerging class of academic research and development professionals- and they’re doing very well in our nation’s colleges and universities.
While the practice of law doesn’t necessarily prepare you for a career in medicine (unless you do malpractice law), the practical steps you took to become a lawyer certainly has. A faculty for completing a tough, specialized educational regimen; long hours of studying; the learning and memorization of endless nomenclature and career-specific terminology and delighting your parents and their friends with an impressive career- all of that will come in handy if you decide to trade the suit for scrubs.
Investment Banking, Business Development and Entrepreneurship
Particularly if you’re legal background involved business, taxes, finance, etc., you’re familiar with both the hoops and how to jump through them as making money in business, banking or the establishment of your own business goes. Maybe you’ve seen where the inefficiencies lie in whatever field you’re lawyering for; maybe your work has revealed the voids and holes in said business; maybe you’re just the person to make that sort of business work.
There is no tried and true path to success in politics. We’ve had a peanut farmer President. However, law is definitely one of if not the most common pre-politics careers. Plus, as a million cliché jokes have taught us- you’re already familiar with the amorality and trickiness that will make you a political success!
Bad email-forward jokes notwithstanding, perhaps you have found law to be a disheartening and hyper-competitive disappointment. Have you considered using you legal powers for good? If so, you could do a lot worse than lending your expertise and acumen to some world-improving non-profit that really needs it.
As much as patent and trademark reviewing sounds like a great way to spend a Tuesday morning, this one sounds like the most fun to me. Depending on your field, law can either be deal with the relatively unimaginative- research compilation, to the extremely imaginative- criminal defense and corporate tax. Either way, if you feel like your imagination is under-stimulated and perhaps under-valued, perhaps you were destined to follow in the footsteps of The Grisham. From the penning of the year’s best-selling, nail-biting legal thriller about the beautiful, idealistic young lawyer (male or female) who’s fallen in love with the lawyer-turned-writer protagonist of your novel to a legal consultant for a Hollywood studio- there’s always room for lawyers in entertainment.
Careers in your Field
This one may seem a little obvious, but some of your best post-law career options are very possibly going to be found on the path of your practice. If you did sports injury law, law professionals are going to be needed by the dozen for hundreds of professional (or semi-professional, youth, high school, etc.) teams and the organizations above them. Your knowledge and skills could be put to use for contract negotiation. Once again, examples are too numerous to list.
For a wider field to wade through, check this list of careers that your law degree has opened up. And keep in mind, as extensive as that is- it’s still nowhere near complete.