We hear the questions "What can you do with a law degree?" or "What can you do with a law degree besides be a lawyer?" very regularly. These questions occasionally come from students considering going to law school and want to know their future job prospects. More times than not, we hear these questions from current lawyers who are unhappy in the profession, and would like to explore their career options out of the law and want to know what other types of "alternative" jobs and careers they can do with a law degree.
The truth is that the old maxim "you can do anything with a law degree" actually carries more weight than you may realize. Having coached thousands of attorneys through our blog, how they can land their dream career out of the law, this article lays out a two-step process, you can begin using to determine your ideal job.
Too many lawyers: The current state of the legal industry (and why right now might be a good time to leave it, or not go to law school)
If you're a college student considering going to law school and want to know "what can I do with a law degree," or have just graduated law school and are exploring working in the legal profession, we would first suggest you become familiar with what it means to be a lawyer day in and day out.
This advice would seem obvious and not surprising. While some people prepare and perform their due diligence before making an important life decision, ironically, many law students and budding lawyers enter the profession with only a bare-bones understanding of what an attorney indeed does. Most pursue the degree and trade because of familial or societal pressure to find a "secure" job or based on what they gather from lawyer movies and television shows. Unfortunately, these reasons paint an inaccurate reality of what a lawyer does, leading to much misery and further in a lawyer's professional life. For more information on the current state of the legal profession, you may want to check out Adam's book "Raising the Bar," which can be purchased on Amazon.
And if you're a current lawyer who is unhappy practicing the law, and open to considering a move to an "alternative" career and asking yourself What can you do with a law degree besides be a lawyer?", many fundamental industry statistics remain grim indeed:
- Lawyers are over 3.5x more likely to be depressed as people with other jobs.
- More than 25% of all lawyers suffer from depression.
- 19% of the attorneys suffer from anxiety
- 21% qualified as problem drinkers
- 28% struggled with depression.
- The legal services sector lost 64,000 jobs in April 2020
- Some BigLaw firms are making questionable "stealth" layoffs
- And even with these cuts, there are still too many lawyers in the United States. In 2018, there was one lawyer for every 244 Americans (as a comparison, in the US, the ratio of doctors to patients is one doctor for every 400 patients.)
What can you do with a law degree?
To discover what you can do with a law degree, we suggest a two-prong approach to decide which jobs you should pursue. This approach involves (1) uncovering what you're "meant" to do in your life, what we call your "Life Purpose", and (2) identifying what your skills and strengths are, what we call your "Unique Genius."
While many attorneys may be skeptical of doing this "woo-woo," type inner work, we ask you to heed the advice of Steve Jobs: "Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it."
Life Purpose: In Adam's book, "Raising the Bar", he devotes an entire chapter to what your Life Purpose is and how you can figure it out, grab it here. Adam also goes into greater detail around how to determine your Life Purpose in the below video, click the player to start.
Unique Genius: As you find out what you're meant to do on this planet, you will also want to explore what value your skills and strengths you can leverage and use in a job outside of the law. In the Leave Law Behind career coaching course, we call this your "Unique Genius." Knowing what you're good at allows you to determine what value you can provide to other people, companies, and organizations.
Most lawyers have never fully explored what their actual skills, strengths and interests are, and do not know how their strongest traits are transferable to other fields and industries. Believe it or not, you do actually possess a long list of unique talents and strengths upon which you can build a successful "non-law" career.
We are here to help! When you join us in the Leave Law Behind career coaching course will guide you through a structured discovery and experimentation process to find your most prominent skills and map them to new careers and roles.
What can you do with a law degree besides be a lawyer?
We have to tell you a sad (and kind of funny) story: We welcomed a new client to the Leave Law Behind Members Community and Course, who recalled for us how frustrated she had been with previous job coaching services she had used. She had undergone a "strength finders/ideal job" type of service, answered a slew of seemingly mechanical questions, and received a long, 40+ page pdf report. When she turned to the last page, the suggested new "alternative" jobs for her to pursue were (drumroll please) a "Forest Ranger" and "a Judge."
She screamed, "I don't like to camp out … and I want to leave the law, not stay in it!"
In all seriousness, we have seen how many career coaching and "ideal job finder" systems do not specifically help lawyers and attorneys transition out of the law. At Leave Law Behind, we ONLY focus on assisting attorneys in leaving the practice of law and pursuing a different career path.
One of the reasons we created the Leave Law Behind coaching program was to help you answer the fundamental question, "What can you do with a law degree besides be a lawyer?" We have curated an exclusive list of over 112 "non-law, alternative" careers & jobs for you to pursue.
Learn how to escape from this "prison cell" you call the legal industry - enter your name and email below to gain immediate access to our Leave Law Behind Resource Library.
We also have written other articles and resources that can help you on your path out of the law. Five of our most popular and helpful are: