6 Nonlegal Jobs That Will Prove Your Legal Degree Was Not a Waste of Time

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Summary: To have knowledge and experience with law can be beneficial in other professions such as these six nonlegal careers.
6 Nonlegal Jobs That Will Prove Your Legal Degree Was Not a Waste of Time
  • So you realize practicing law may not be the perfect lifelong career you thought it would be.
  • Well, you’re not alone in your realization; many lawyers recognize at various points in their career that law might not be the be all and end all of their 9 to 5 life.
  • But they also realize their law degree has value.
  • With that said this article presents 6 nonlegal jobs individuals with law degrees can easily and successfully take on as an alternative to practicing law.
The practice of law can be quite fickle for some. Yes, prospective practitioners within the legal field will undoubtedly go through all the needed actions to prepare themselves for law school.

After three years, many will graduate with high honors and some will be brought in by top AmLaw firms where they will work on high profile cases for close to $200,000 a year.

It’s a dream come true for the correct type of personality. Yet for others who have been through the rigors of law school, internships and getting hired by prestigious law firms, the dream may not be so sweet at the day’s end.

Honestly, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Pursuing a traditional legal path isn’t for everyone.

But that doesn’t mean one’s law school education nor their experience practicing law should go to waste. Those who have prepared themselves to practice law yet do not continue onward to make law their long term career should not throw in the towel.

They still hold importance. They still have value.
Law simply isn’t the right fit for them.
So with that, what is the right fit?

Check out the following six nonlegal careers to help give insight into a job that your legal background can compliment.
In the article Have a Law Degree? 6 Social-Impact Jobs for You written by Samantha Frederickson for Idealist Careers.com, the author lists six potential careers in which a person from the legal world can apply their legal knowledge.

While two of the careers are education related, overall these six careers are quite dissimilar in and among themselves. This simply reveals the wide shadow law can cast over other professions that are anything but legal in mind.

1. High School Teacher


According to Frederickson, law school teaches lawyers a lot about how our government functions, making it excellent training for a career teaching at a variety of levels. Of course, you can always teach at a law school, or even undergrad, but you may also want to consider teaching at the high-school level.

Many high schools have government, criminal justice, or other law-related courses. Some schools also have extracurricular activities focused on civic engagement, such as the Center for Civic Education’s We the People program.

If you’re interested in becoming a teacher, many states won’t require you to go back and get an education degree. To be sure, you should check with your state’s board of education or your local school district.

2. Curriculum Specialist


If you have an interest in education but not necessarily from the point of view of a classroom, there are options to work behind the scenes creating lessons rooted in law. There are plenty of nonprofit organizations that offer curriculum around a variety of social-justice areas, such as civic engagement, immigration law, and civil rights.


3. Legislative Analyst


This is probably the most obvious choice for those with law degrees who no longer want to practice law. Being a legislative analyst is especially appealing if a lawyer’s desire for obtaining a law degree stems from an interest in public policy. Whatever a person’s passion—environmental justice, women’s rights, immigration—there are many organizations that advocate for change. Having a law degree will make a former attorney more competitive for these types of positions.

In short, there are plenty of jobs in the public sector in which a former lawyer can interact with elected officials and government agencies of all levels.

4. Nonprofit Executive Director


Running a nonprofit organization requires a fair amount of knowledge about the law. Former lawyers who become directors of nonprofits need to know about federal laws pertaining to nonprofit status and tax exemptions as well as labor and employment laws. Directors also require an understanding of the legal fiduciary responsibility of a Board of Directors.

Former lawyers, who enjoy learning about regulations in law school and have an interest in the nonprofit sector, may find being a nonprofit executive director to be a very satisfying nonlegal profession.

5. Therapist


Whomever said lawyers aren’t good listeners must not know many lawyers.

Lawyers are excellent listeners who also happen to have an unending amount of patience and empathy.

Of course, former lawyers who pursue the path of therapy will more than likely need to obtain additional education and perhaps a certification to become therapists.

Nonetheless the skills learned in law school will likely help an ex-attorney succeed in therapy. This is because while in law school, attorneys are taught to be analytical and to listen to their clients, and if motivated to do so, lawyers can help people by providing therapy.

Another bonus is that there’s actually an emerging field of therapists who specialize in working with stressed-out attorneys. What better training is there for helping someone who’s unhappy with their work than an experienced former lawyer?

6. Foreign Service Officer


Interested in international relations? Consider pursuing a career as a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. State Department. There’s no specific degree requirement to pursue this career, but having a law degree and knowledge about international law can certainly boost your chances.

As a Foreign Service Officer, you’ll likely utilize some of the same skills as a lawyer. You’ll research and write reports and negotiate with government officials.

In conclusion

If anything, this article should reassure those who practiced law only to later bow out of the profession that their law degrees aren’t wasted. Law has incredible reach and influence which can spill over into many other professions.

With that said, keep in mind that your legal background is not a hopeless anchor. The time and money you spent to get a law degree nor the experience you received during your practice will not be squandered should you move onto a different type of work.

You should instead consider your time as a lawyer as a stepping stone.

Sure, you may not have stuck with law and gone down its pathway. However, with the six careers listed in this article, you may find yourself on another path that suits you better as to what you desire in a profession. And to know that law helped with that transition should make you appreciate the legal world that much more.

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