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Legal Career Transition – Leaving the Law

Are you considering a career transition? Do you really enjoy your law practice? If you don't, you're not alone. Here are a few lawyers who decided to take other career paths:

  • Franz Kafka
  • Francis Scott Key
  • Rene Descartes
  • John Grisham
  • Scott Turow 
  • Geraldo Rivera
  • Mahatma Gandhi
  • Erle Stanley Gardner
  • Charlie Rose
  • Bing Crosby 
  • Howard Cosell 
  • Fidel Castro
  • Ralph Nader
  • Studs Terkel
  • Rossano Brazzi
  • Otto Preminger
  • Hoagy Carmichael
  • Archibald MacLeish

The number of lawyers who find their work unfulfilling is staggering. Perhaps this is because for many of us law school just seemed to be a good idea at the time. We had no clear idea of what lawyers really did or what we would end up doing after graduation. For others the reality of practicing law is at odds with the vision we had in mind. For still others the glamour wears off or we are ready to try something new, to have a different experience in life.

If you are considering leaving the law, the first thing to consider is whether the practice of law is the problem or if the real problem is in your law practice: your area of concentration, your job, the firm you are with, the case load, financial pressures, a lack of balance between professional and personal life, etc. Some of my clients, upon reflection, realize that the law is not the problem at all and, with effort directed toward the particular problem areas they have, they are able to continue and be successful in their legal career.

If you decide to make a career transition, understand that this is a major piece of work and takes plenty of thought, planning and effort. You need to give serious thought to what you want out of your life and your career. And, you should have and follow a specific plan to systematically investigate the career options that suit your interests, talents, skills and abilities.

My recommendations:

  1. Start by getting to know yourself very well. Begin with assessment tests such as a DISC type personality test and an interest and skills inventory. Then take the time to work through exercises that help you become clear on your values, talents, skills, especially transferable skills, and interests.
  2. Create a career criteria filter to help clarify what is absolutely necessary in a new career and what would be ideal. The reality will usually fall in between.
  3. Follow this with market research, and possibly informational interviews, to learn more about careers that may be a good fit.
  4. Lastly, carefully consider your options, bearing in mind your values and life plan. Make a wise decision. You will reap the rewards of your hard work in the joy and satisfaction of a career that suits you.

Coaching for can help. We will help you structure your career search, organize the research, plan step-by-step the actions you need to take and provide you with the necessary focus and accountability to ensure that you stay on track until you complete your career transition.


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