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Six High-Value Non-Legal Careers Available To Law Students

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It is amazing that once law graduates and practicing lawyers make the tough albeit right decision of shifting allegiance from the conventional and traditional legal jobs, they suddenly develop cold feet and settle for the first one that they come across. Most graduates set their sights too low. All they want is a job. They'll worry about their career later. Well, later has a way of getting here pretty quickly and they still do not have a career. All they have is a job they do not like or one that does not pay enough. And for most of them, it is a job that is both of those things. It is such a shame to see bright people with degrees from good schools in this situation.

Law School training is one of a kind and its strict rigors and discipline open up a world of careers that you are well-equipped to better than most. Have faith in yourself and explore and identify these high value careers before wrongly assuming that your legal qualifications make you ill-equipped for these high-value careers.



Identifying High-Value Careers:

To pull the slingshot back still more before releasing, high-profile careers need to be identified. A high-value career is a job function that adds to the employer's bottom line; either by creating new products or processes or by solving problems. It is a front line job rather than a back office administrative one. Recall that back office administrative jobs are bearing the brunt of downsizing going on in this country. A high-value career is the type of career you want. These careers will intellectually challenge you and reward you financially. The legally trained adapt easily to the following high-profile careers:
  1. Business Development Professional
  2. Project Finance Professional
  3. Account Executive/Marketing Professional
  4. Public Relations
  5. Manager Of A Business Unit Or Product Line
  6. Human Resources
Examine these high-value careers and make sure you know which ones suit your interests and skills. These are not merely jobs, they are much more than jobs. These are career paths. The more business experience you have, the farther down the path you can enter. No matter where you may start on the path, the most important thing is to get on it in the first place.

1) Business Development Professionals:

Business development professionals put together projects in which their company can invest. These projects are investments that yield an attractive return on the invested capital. These returns show up in future earnings of the company. Business development is the engine of commerce because new projects and products replenish a firm's earnings. Earnings determine, in large part, the value of the company. In this manner, business development professionals perform extremely important functions. Coincidentally, the company pays them handsomely when they perform well.

In a nutshell, as a business development executive, you do deals. You see moneymaking opportunities for your company or client where others do not. Alternatively, you follow through on a recognized opportunity before your competitors do. This career requires high energy and persistence combined with communication and people skills. This is not your career if you want to sit behind a desk from eight to five shuffling papers. You interface with company personnel, as well as potential business partners, customers, and members of the financial community to get the deal done you are the catalyst that makes all the elements positively react with one another.

As a business developer, you create the projects that may not generate income for a few years. However, these projects are what makes the company an ongoing entity. The investment community shows particular interest in new projects and rewards those companies that are always bringing in new ones. The projects you work on could be anything and anywhere. You might be building a power plant outside of Paris or working on a liquefied natural gas terminal in Saudi Arabia. This means you work with many different types of people. Your job is never boring. However, it is often stressful. This is often the case when a project that you have been trying to put together for months looks like it is not going to happen. You feel like you wasted that time. However, you didn't. Even though this project did not come together, you gained some experience in a certain area. In addition, and probably more importantly, you made some contacts. These contacts not only give you a chance to put together a future project, but also to further your career.

Business development careers usually require a lot of traveling. As I noted earlier, the next project could be anywhere in the world. The business development professional is a true entrepreneur. You rely on your own instincts, and headquarters management relies on you, to bring in the projects. The personal rewards for bringing in a large project are lucrative. Bonuses in multiples of your salary are not out of the realm of possibility. The entrepreneur approaches this job somewhat differently. He or she brings projects to the attention of the appropriate companies. The entrepreneur's reward is usually a percentage of the project's revenues. This percentage could amount to millions of dollars over the lifetime of the project.

2) Project Finance Professionals

The expanding global economy will intensify the demand for capital. It will be up to the project finance professional to attract capital and utilize it optimally so that your company or project can go forward. It will be lack of capital that will throttle the rapid global growth. Companies unable to attract capital will see their growth throttled. This capital competition will make those of you who can amass it very valuable. Opportunities abound throughout the entire range of capital investing, from the venture capital company to the local savings and loan association.

This career is more than mere number crunching^ armies of overworked analysts do that. This is not to say that you should not be comfortable with computers and financial calculations, but it is not the main part of your job. You are a facilitator, communicator, and a salesperson. You will succeed in this field if you can interact easily with people. Investors need to be at ease and confident. You work closely with the business development people, providing the capital to their assets and expertise.

As with the business development professional, you travel a lot while you are putting the project together. The exploding foreign sector demands international travel. This can mean a lot of time away from home, as you travel the world meeting with key parties in the project. Your communications skills serve you well as you interface with professionals from all different business sectors. You meet with members of the financial community to present the project to them if your company needs them to partially fund the project. As with the business development professional, the project finance professional can earn huge bonuses depending upon the size of the project.

3) Account Executives/Marketing Professionals:

Rising domestic and international competition increases the importance of marketing research and strategy and of an effective sales program for your products and services. Marketing and selling are art forms. You paint a picture or tell a story about how your product or service benefits a potential buyer. Depending upon the size of the company, the same person may be both an account executive and a marketing professional. The smaller the company, the more likely it is one person takes on both the sales and marketing responsibilities. Larger companies usually separate the two functions.

The work of the marketers is iterative. They identify customers for new products from their existing customer base, as well as from any new markets. Identifying customers/markets requires researching the markets. Legal training, with its emphasis on research, obviously is a benefit here. Marketers also monitor their existing product accounts themselves, or through the account executives, to insure they are focusing on what the customers want from their product or service.

The first step is defining and identifying the customers/markets. Once the team has completed this task, marketing professionals formulate how to focus the markets' attention on the company's goods and services. To effectively do this, they have to know what it is customers want and how to show the product in that light. The marketing strategy must take into account the combined capacities of sales, advertising, and public relations departments. A sound marketing strategy is important not only for new goods and services but also for established lines. Sales generate the cash that keeps the company going and provide the company with the capital to grow.

Account and marketing executives are near the top of the managerial hierarchy. As a group, sales and marketing people are some of the most highly paid people in this country. For a top, experienced marketing professional or account executive, your earning potential is unlimited. Bonuses may be multiples of your base salary.

The more you make for your company, the more you make for yourself. You can move into these areas as either an account executive to some of the smaller accounts or, if the marketing side interests you, as a marketing assistant. Obviously, at these lower levels, the salary is not as lucrative as the account executive handling the larger accounts. However, opportunities for advancement to larger accounts and more responsibility abound if you prove yourself. Skill, energy, and enthusiasm get you into this career. Hard work and interpersonal skills make the business pay off.

4) Public Relations:

Public relations specialists gather information about their clients and present it to the public or customers truthfully, but also in the best light possible. They persuade without appearing to do so. Their work, in part, includes preparing statements on a client's accomplishments and activities. They may prepare statements for an officer of the company to read to the media or they may present it themselves. Many times, the work is very stressful because they are explaining an unpleasant occurrence, such as an environmental mishap or a factory accident. You have to be ready at any time to speak about life-threatening situations. Composure while communicating is the key. Most of the time, however, the news is not so serious, but still requires a bit of finesse. Financial reporting, especially whenever the news is not good, falls to the public relations spokesperson. He or she focuses the audience on the future while explaining lower than expected earnings.

Creativity, initiative, and interpersonal skills are important in this field. Many times, the hardest people to please are your clients. The press release you wrote says too much, or, maybe not enough. Everyone is critical, but, of course, no one else will write the release. You deal with chief executive officers, chief financial officers, senior management, and boards of directors. If you want exposure to people that can make a difference in the corporation, this is the career for you. You are their image and they will pay well for a good one.

Research skills serve you well. Background research helps you appear informed. Most press conferences will be full of questions. Some of the questions you will have expected; others will surprise you. The more background information and understanding you possess, the better you represent your client. Research skills honed in legal training apply to this career. Combine these research skills with your communications skills and experience and you offer a valuable package to prospective employers.

5) Manager of a Business Unit or Product Line:

The business unit or product line managers are the consummate specialists/generalists, much like attorneys. Business unit managers are responsible for the operations of a particular division within the company. Divisions define themselves either geographically or by the product or products they produce. The product line manager is responsible for the results attributable to a line of products sold by the company. Whether you manage a business unit or a line of products, you are responsible for everything that happens in your particular area or product line, both good and bad. You choose the advertising, personnel, inventory; anything that is strategic to your area of responsibility.

You oversee all aspects of the business. You must effectively manage people. Successful managers, although taking responsibility for everything, do not do everything by themselves. They develop reliable teams. You may spend your day meeting with customers or suppliers or strategizing with your sales staff. You distill information and communicate it to the key members of your marketing, production, and sales teams. They help you successfully run the enterprise.

The successful manager is always moving around. He or she needs to be out directing and helping the teams, not sitting behind a desk shuffling papers. A good manager spends time discussing, meeting, and presenting strategies. Getting out into the field to talk with salespeople and customers is extremely important. Legal training and experience provide invaluable communication skills.

Time management skills get honed in law school. The law student who cannot control his or her time will not last long either. The key skills for this position are leadership, communicating, and decision making. Successful attorneys need these very same skills.

6) Human Resources Specialists:

Successful companies realize that people make them successful. These companies need human resources professionals to bring in the best candidates and develop programs that motivate the work force to perform at a level necessary to compete in a worldwide economy. The effective human relations specialist is a strategic partner with the businesspeople. Being a strategic partner means understanding the business direction of the company. You know the goods and services your company produces. You know their capabilities and limitations. You are right in there with the front line people as opposed to playing the secondary administrative role of the old style personnel people.

Human resources specialists perform a variety of important tasks, including: playing a lead role in recruiting and selecting employees, investigating employee complaints about the practices of the company or other employees, communicating with employees on various company policies, procedures, and benefits assisting in designing compensation packages and promoting the corporate image within and outside of the company.


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