March 26, 2009
Alternative Careers - The Rules
Much of this information was taken from Susan Gainen's presentation at the NALP Newcomer's Conference in Denver (Feb. 2009). Thanks, Susan!
1. Know what the employer does and what its problems are. As you approach an employer who isn’t thinking about hiring a law-trained person, you have to show what you know.
2. Know what you bring to the table that could help solve those problems. If you don’t know, show that you are willing to bring energy, enthusiasm and curiosity and show the value of your legal and analytical training.
3. Know what you bring to the table. With understanding of the employer and its industry your candid self-assessment of the skills, experience and talent you bring to the table will help you craft your approach.
4. Know what you are asking for. Entry-level management? Strategic planning? Human Resources? Policy Analysis? Before you ask for what you want you need to understand what non-lawyers do.
5. Be prepared to learn something new to kick-start a new career. You may have to invest time and money. Do it with enthusiasm.
Deborah Arron, What can you do with a law degree? A lawyer’s guide to career alternatives inside, outside & around the law
Hindi Greenberg, Lawyers Career Change Handbook
Hillary Mantis, Alternative Careers for Lawyers & Vault blogger
Hindi Greenberg (published by Federal Reports): JD Preferred: 400+ Things You Can do with a law degree (other than practice law)
The Occupational Outlook Handbook, produced by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, is a tremendous research tool for anyone seeking insight into different careers. The resource outlines various facets of different careers including information about the nature of the work, working conditions, and also what requirements may be needed to begin a career in the selected field. This resource would be a good place to begin researching alternative legal careers.
Occupational Information Network, O*net OnLine, JobStar, Career Journal.com from the Wall Street Journal, and Michigan Occupational Reports for Exploration. These websites only represent a fraction of the information that is available on the World Wide Web.
Alternate career search is unique to each individual. Be inspired by those who have left traditional legal career paths. You will create your own.
If you want a copy of this handout in Word, please contact Anetra Parks at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Director, Legal Career Services
University of Wyoming College of Law