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Want to Leave the Law? Ex-Lawyer Explains the Upside

Posted Feb 2, 2010 7:58 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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If you are an unhappy lawyer considering another career, Cari Sommer has some advice for you.

Sommer practiced law for seven years before she co-founded Urban Interns, a website that connects small-business owners with job hunters seeking part-time work, the Wall Street Journal reports in a Careers column.

Don’t think that your legal training will be wasted in a job outside the law, Sommer tells the Wall Street Journal.

"In the broadest terms, practicing law is about analyzing facts, solving problems, advocating a position, and communicating with clients and adversaries," she says. "I use these skills every day in my work as an entrepreneur."

The article has other advice. Be cautious, and don’t make a long-term job change based on a temporary situation, such as a difficult partner or case. Maybe you need to change employers, rather than careers. If you can accept the lower paycheck, a government legal career might be a better fit for you, or an in-house job at a small business. A solo practice may also be an option.

If you don't like law practice, you may want to consider these related careers: arbitrator, lobbyist, law librarian, legal writer and political staffer.

If you do decide to change careers, keep your job while you explore other options, the article says. Test the waters through volunteer work and conduct informational interviews.

These books can provide more information: What Can You Do with a Law Degree by Deborah Arron, and The Unhappy Lawyer: A Roadmap to Finding Meaningful Work Outside the Law by Monica Parker. A licensed career counselor may also be helpful.

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