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Career Change Options for Attorneys

written by: theMallorys•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 12/14/2010

An attorney career change is something that a lot of lawyers go through. Whether it’s to launch your own business or to work in another field, there are a lot of options out there. Your skills and training will be attractive to many different employers.

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    woman on laptop 

    An attorney career change is not uncommon in the legal profession. If you’re one of the many lawyers who are burned out, dissatisfied or disillusioned by the actual practice of law, then it’s time to consider your other options. The good news is that you can be employed in many different careers because of your education and training as a lawyer. Here are some careers you should consider switching to:

    Image Credit: (Matthew Bowden)

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    Writer and Researcher – Freelance or Employed

    By the time you graduated from law school, you have learned how to write more so than how to practice law. Between undergraduate papers and law school exams and papers, you’ve learned how to become an expert writer. Those skills are needed in the real world. For this reason, employers and publishers love to hire lawyers. The toughest part is learning how to write in a conversational way if you’re interested in writing some types of work. For example, if you want to write articles for the web, or magazines, then you have to learn how to eliminate “lawyer speak” from your work. An editor and your dedication to practice will help you make that transition in little time. There are also academic and legal writing jobs which require the more formal style of writing that you’re already used to. Here are some writing careers that former attorneys have pursued successfully:

    • Ghostwriter for books
    • Writer for white papers
    • Technical writer, such as for employee handbooks or medical articles
    • Article writer for the web or print
    • Resume writer
    • Legal and non-legal blogger
    • Author, self published or contracted by a publisher
    • Print journalist

    One area that can be difficult for an attorney career change is copywriting. You’re not taught marketing in law school, but how to teach and impart information. If you desire to be a copywriter, take a reputable course and learn the skills you need. If you have a background in marketing, then it could be the perfect fit.

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    Entrepreneurship

    If the reason why you want an attorney career change is that you were burned out working long hours for someone else, then you should consider becoming your own boss. You can leverage your knowledge and research skills to launch your own venture, doing something that you love to do. Becoming an entrepreneur is not a great leap for an attorney. You have the communication, research, legal and in some cases, business skills needed to start and grow a business. Here are some examples of entrepreneurial ventures that attorneys who made a career change have been doing for years:

    • Online stores, selling a variety of information and non-information products
    • Staffing and recruiting agency
    • Farming enterprise
    • Marketing and communications company
    • Event planning and management firm
    • Health foods organization
    • Franchise business

    You can enroll in business courses and seminars, read books and online articles, and join forums to help you get started with your venture. It’s also good to network with attorneys who left the legal profession to work in other industries as an entrepreneur. They may be willing to mentor you.

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    Don’t be afraid of the prospects of an attorney career change. Your profession has earned you credibility in ways that other professionals have to take years to build when making a change.