Many lawyers at some point contemplate leaving the practice of law. While some attorneys truly fall into a non-legal role, most do serious soul searching and legwork before they decide in what direction to take their careers. Here is the good news — there are plenty of jobs that don’t require a J.D., but may favor candidates that have one. Here are five fields where having a J.D. can provide a compelling advantage:
Crisis communications. A law degree can prove useful when handling clients with public relations issues, as these situations often involve representing individuals or companies facing civil litigation or criminal charges in addition to facing negative publicity. Even further, crisis communications work often involves collaboration with attorneys — with the crisis communicator essentially acting as a public-facing legal defense spokesperson.
Politics. Those in the political sphere often hold law degrees because it aids them in analyzing complicated issues, understanding the complexities of the governing process and in communicating succinctly and effectively. A legal background can also help establish credibility, as in the case of lobbyists, or can support campaign compliance work.
Compliance. Jobs in compliance are a natural fit for law school graduates. A legal foundation allows for a deeper understanding of the guidelines and regulations that govern businesses — making lawyers well-suited for highly-regulated roles in the business sphere. While some compliance roles fall within the legal group, many compliance departments are managed independently (or might report to legal but enjoy significant autonomy).
Business Consulting. Many consulting firms seek out lawyers to fill non-legal consulting roles. Lawyers tend to be highly organized, client-oriented analytical problem-solvers, which makes them a great fit for consulting.
Business Operations. Law firm lawyers seeking a change often first look to in-house counsel opportunities. Many lawyers find significant job satisfaction practicing in-house, but others find that serving as in-house counsel is not enough of a change. These in-house attorneys may find opportunities to join the business team in an operations focused (“business side”) capacity. Lawyers can offer a business team their strong analytical, organization and management skills.
Practicing law isn’t the only way to put your law degree to work. If you genuinely believe that practicing law is not (or is no longer) your calling, think about making a big change and taking your career in a new direction.