Contemplating an Encore Career? Ex-Lawyer Has Some Advice

Corporate lawyer Marci Alboher knew it was time for a career change when she was vacationing in Rio de Janeiro and received a call from her boss. There was a crisis that needed Alboher’s attention, the boss said. Could Alboher could cut her vacation short to handle the problem? Alboher refused.

Two years later, Alboher says in a column for the New York Times, “I weaned myself from the law and re-emerged as a journalist.” Now she is fascinated by the subject of second careers and works for a nonprofit called that offers information to those who want to make the transition to jobs with social impact. (The group recently awarded a $100,000 “purpose prize” to a lawyer from Maine who helped uncover the robo-signing mortgage scandal.)

Alboher warns those contemplating a midlife career change to be prepared to weather a period without a paycheck, and to receive less pay when they do find a job. Some organizations that can help are ReServe (matching people over 55 in part-time paid positions at nonprofits), Encore Fellowships (paid fellowships matching professionals with social-purpose organizations), and Teach for America (looking for midlife recruits as well as recent graduates).

“Transitions are harder when you feel old enough to be a parent to everyone else at the office,” Alboher writes. “Age discrimination is real, but those who reinvent over 50 don’t let it get in the way. If they interview with organizations that don’t value experience, they move on. When they network, they recognize the importance of intergenerational relationships; they even tap their children’s LinkedIn contacts.”

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