Monday, 25 October 2010

Lawyers - You Can Change Your Career?

By O'rene Ashley

Job Vacancies, Jobs Vacancy, Employment Jobs

There are many lawyers out there who are looking for work. Some of them want to get back into the law firm, some are taking the opportunity to get creative and do something to make a living, others might be doing contract work, still others as we know are un-employed and confused.

But there are also many lawyers who are still employed and are dying to leave because they just aren't happy practicing law. Why don't they just go and make space for the others who would love to have their jobs, some ask. For these and others who want to leave the practice of law, it just isn't easy. Lawyers seeking alternative jobs outside of law often face obstacles in making the transition. It requires a serious adjustment of mindset and lawyers need to recognize this.

I'm a Lawyer Mindset

The view by lawyers that their profession defines them can prove an impediment to transitioning in a number of ways:

1. There is the notion that you are a part of a very prestigious profession and have attained status that is difficult to abandon.
2. You amassed hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, training to be a lawyer and you just can't see yourself engaged in anything that doesn't involve putting that education to its specific use.
3. And then there is the money. You make a lot of money practising law. You live well, go on nice vacations and are paying off those law school loans steadily. How can you be expected to give that up?
4. You have only ever worked or mainly worked as a lawyer, one who has certain specialized skills. This is your profession.

If you always perceive yourself as a lawyer, why should anyone else see you differently. Yes you graduated from law school and practiced in Big Law gaining specialized skills but you do have other talents and dreams and here is where the adjustment needs to come in.

I am an intelligent, smart, talented person

1. Law school offers excellent training in the areas of research, writing, negotiation, analysis, debating, presentation. Moreover law school is an experience in study, application and surviving at an advanced level. These aren't skills to scoff at. They are in demand, in many fields and coupled with a lawyer's advocacy skills, should take a lawyer with a new mindset in any direction you want to go. It is up to you to convince the prospective lawyer that your experience is an advantage.

2. Law school offers excellent training towards a graduate degree. You lawyers arrive at law school from diverse undergraduate backgrounds. The fact is you come with other skills, some are technical, some are people oriented and others philosophical; but you have skills which can be leveraged.

3. You are organized. You have to be to pass that bar exam. So you can: write down your dreams, likes, strengths and jobs that interest you; save and budget for life without the six figure salary if your expected job can't provide that in the short term; plan a schedule as you set out to reach your goals.

4. You can research whatever you think you want to do and you must. It is useless to say you want to transition to public relations and not explore the field to understand the requirements, the skills you need to bring and the nature or background of the company you want to work for.

5. You have initiative, ambition and drive. Lawyers generally have what it takes to be leaders. If you are not able to get that job then don't be afraid to strike out on your own. Entrepreneurship is often born out of adversity. You can succeed at becoming your own boss if you are hungry enough and if you plan sensibly.

Unhappy lawyers, you can do whatever you want. You can pursue your dream to transition from the law but you have to let go of the notion that you are not qualified or that you are over qualified for non-law jobs. This a career change that requires much adjustment and preparation which you must be prepared to make. If you believe in yourself others will believe too.

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