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How to Find Alternative Uses for a Law Degree
by Silas Reed
There are many alternative uses for a law degree. Just because you have a J.D. does not mean that you have to practice law. There are many other things that you can do and still make a good income. Common careers for people who have a law degree, but who have chosen not to practice law include:
- Advocate—speaks on behalf of a person or a group, particularly in the legal sense, especially when that person or group is unable or ill equipped to speak for themselves. You can advocate for children, minorities, endangered species, the environment, there are many interests that you can explore.
- Lobbyist—influences the government to adopt or eliminate laws or proposals and encourages politicians to get on board with their cause. The lobbyist usually works on behalf of a group or an individual. They speak to legislators in an attempt to persuade them to accept, reject, or modify a proposal by relating how that proposal will impact the group.
- Entrepreneur—you can take this option in many different directions, whether you incorporate your legal training into your business or not.
- Legal Related Sales—use your legal knowledge to sell software, books, and other products to other attorneys. Your law degree will give you an edge because you will speak your customers' language and you will have an innate understanding of their wants and needs.
- Federal Agency—there are many positions that you can hold in a federal agency, or a state agency for that matter. If you specialize in international law, you can work in international relations. There are many, many federal positions that could work for you.
- Writer—trade magazines are always looking for good content. You can write for law-related publications, write a law column in the newspaper, or even embark on a novel. Your training in the law will help your writing feel more authentic.
- FOIA Analyst—work at a federal agency in the disclosure office, working with Freedom of Information Act requests.
- Consultant—set your own hours, work when you want, and help other people. You can offer yourself as a consultant in a variety of areas. Find something that interests you and that you have a strong grasp of and be a consultant.
- Politician—change the world, work for the people. You can run for city council, mayor, legislature, senate, or many other offices.
- Private Investigator—do background checks, searches, and other investigative duties as a private investigator.
- Personal Coach—help others help themselves. Offer yourself as a personal coach. Help people make career changes, find a career, or make other positive changes in their lives.
- Teacher—if you enjoyed school, then think about teaching. You can teach high school, college, even law school. It is a very rewarding, honorable career choice.
These are just a few of the career choices that are great alternative uses for a law degree. However, if these careers don't appeal to you, you can search for other opportunities and find something that is right for you.
The first step in any job search is assessing your skills, abilities, interests, and experience. Take inventory of what you can do, what you have done, what you like to do, and what you are really good at doing. This can begin to provide a picture of the direction you should take your career. Sitting down with a career counselor or taking a career assessment are very good ways to begin to establish how you should proceed. You may see opportunities that you had never before considered.
There are many books written on the subject as well. Read books on changing your career and career options. You should also read books that walk you through a self-assessment, helping you to set goals for yourself, take a self-inventory of skills and experiences that you have and how to proceed with changing your career. Pick up a few books on career alternatives and what you can do with a law degree. Moving away from the traditional career role of lawyer and into a different career can be overwhelming, but if you research your options and honestly assess your needs as well as what you have to offer, you can certainly transition into a career that is a better fit for you.
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