Alternative Law Careers: What to Do if You Don’t Want to be a Lawyer

Alternative Law Careers: What to do with your Law Degree if you don’t want to be a Lawyer.

For more information and other great articles visit

You took the LSAT and after getting accepted to law school,  worked hard over three years reading, studying, writing and researching.  You spent night after night doing the tremendous preparation necessary study for and pass the bar exam.  After, Juris Doctor in hand, you tried your hand a career as a lawyer.  You worked for the city, the state or you started off at a firm.  Hours after hours of grueling research and late nights writing reports and motions.  Or perhaps you went into private practice.  You advertised, hung your sign, waded into the brutal courtroom litigation process.  You gave it your best shot, but when all is said and done, you just don’t think being a lawyer is for you.  So what do you do?  You have a JD but you don’t want to be a lawyer!  Don’t despair.  You’re not alone.  A law degree can be a valuable tool to help you enter into a number of other fields for those that working as an attorney just isn’t the right fit.

Tangential Legal Careers

There are many lawyers who while enjoying the theoretical aspects of law simply do not enjoy the mundane aspects such as the paperwork and research involved.  They require different kinds of stimulation and incentive in their career.  One popular career path is in the variety of legal sales oriented jobs.  A tremendous industry exists in support of the legal profession providing data, software and other information and related services to lawyers and law firms.  These companies have a strong need for law-savvy sales associates who can communicate with lawyer clients on their level.

Advantages to working in sales include a bonus and commission structure that can offer substantial financial rewards and all without the tremendous paperwork and research and isolation that typical legal work engenders.  Those who enjoy working with many different people and developing relationships as well as enjoy flexibility in scheduling and often travel also find this career field rewarding.  Some companies even offer the option to work part-time or full-time from home with many sales calls taking place over computer with teleconferencing.  While definitely for the more ‘self-starter’ of personalities, a legal sales career can be a very rewarding alternative legal degree track.  For even more ideas of Alternative Legal Careers make sure you visit

Entrepreneurial and Business Pursuits

Many ex-lawyers complain about the stifling atmosphere they encountered at law firms or working in private practice.  While envisioning the fast-paced exciting legal world in such television shows as LA Law or Law and Order while in Law School, when out in the real world they find that reality is far different.  Often, associates spend entire weeks and months without leaving research libraries and the paperwork involved in even the simplest of cases…and the restrictions and legal gymnastics required to settle a case can take all the excitement and gratification that the young lawyer thought was going to be part of their career.  It is no surprise then that many lawyers decide to pursue more entrepreneurial pursuits when leaving their practices.

Luckily, many of the skills and talents you honed as a lawyer can be put to good use in the entrepreneurial world.  Many lawyers start their own businesses, often in fields far askew from the legal profession.  The time management, attention to detail and project management and completion abilities you honed in law can make for great success in the free market.  Pick any interest, hobby or passion and there is guaranteed to be a Juris Doctor holder that has made a successful business of it. 

One innovative soul opened a coffee shop where he offered legal advice free on certain days.  Others have opened restaurants, developed online businesses or created innovative ‘green’ companies taking advantage of their knowledge of environmental law.  Still others have started non-profit ventures or nature and conservancy companies that were able to use their particular specialties in their prior legal fields.   It is not uncommon for law degree holders to move into investment banking or use their real estate legal skills to work in real estate finance or development.  The added legitimacy of a Juris Doctor degree will help gain credibility in any venture you pursue and can often help convince lending institutions of your reliability when considering new business loans.  The sky really is the limit.

Creative Fields

A third popular alternative law career path popular amongst those with a creative edge are the many novel paths taking advantage of the strong writing and organization skills that were honed in a legal career.  Many television writers and journalists are known to hold JD’s.  As well, radio and television journalists with law degrees are prized for a variety of roles from legal commentary to specialty topics such as civil rights, criminal and entertainment law.  Still others use their legal background to work as legal consultants or become writers  on important legal issues.

Another potential path are those professions that harness the networking and deal making aspects of legal work.  Many Hollywood talent agents and managers have law degrees which helps them in their contract work and negotiations.  High end job recruiters and political advisors are often required to hold a legal or comparable degree as part of their credentials to reach the heights of their profession.  Finally, a small but dedicated subset of law degree holders become artists in their own right becoming filmmakers, poets and painters and often drawing from their legal experience to create works that comment or discuss important issues.  Several famous novelists got their start as lawyers, from the famous trial attorney Vincent Bugliosi to the now famous…but unknown as a lawyer, John Grisham.

Obtaining your Juris Doctor is a great accomplishment in itself.  Just because one finds working as an attorney unfulfilling does not mean the work put into obtaining your status as a lawyer is a waste.  This essay merely hints at the possibilities that are available to the law degree holder out in the work place.  I wish you well on your journey and make sure you stop by for more great articles on the legal profession both in and out of the courtroom.

Robert Levin

Post Author: mark

Leave a Reply