Changing Course: 3 Transferable Skills You Learn From Law

Few like to admit it, but sometimes law school doesn’t lead to a career in law – at least not in the typical sense. Rather, even for those who begin their careers at a law firm, sexism, long hours, and associate-level grunt work can lead to reconsideration.

In fact, people leave the legal field in such high numbers that there’s a whole auxiliary field committed to helping lawyers change jobs. Luckily, as a lawyer, or at least as someone with a law degree, you have a lot of “transferable skills.”

Using What You Know

Transferable skills are exactly what they sound like; skills you mastered doing one job that you can also apply to roles in other fields. For lawyers, this might include deep knowledge and skill at interpreting regulations, a variety of technical office skills, and strong written and verbal communication skills.

There are plenty of employers in lower-stress fields that would love to hire people with these skill sets, so if you’re interested in switching jobs, you’re in luck. Consider applying to one (or more) of these alternative careers and use those transferable skills to stand out from the pack.

Get Personal

Interpersonal skills are a must in the law field, whether you’re interacting with other lawyers, talking to clients, or interviewing others involved in a case, but they’re also in high-demand in countless other fields, including social services, hospitality, administration, and education.

Many of the careers that rely heavily on interpersonal skills are also considered “pink collar,” or feminized fields. This may not guarantee decreased sexism compared to that seen in your average law firm, but considering rampant age discrimination and stereotypes about women in law, these fields can be a lot more welcoming and female-led.

Secure The Net

Why would a lawyer work in cybersecurity? It may seem strange, but there are significant overlaps between the attention to detail required in law and that called for by cybersecurity. And no, you don’t need to know how to code. Your training equips you to supervise, troubleshoot, and develop protocols for security firms.

Individuals trained in law typically have a very clear sense of what matters when it comes to cybersecurity because we rely on these types of tools when communicating with other lawyers and with clients. We look for standardized encryption, flexibility, and a single-program solution. On the administrative or development side, then, we have a sense of both what clients want and where gaps exist.

Women trained in law have one additional advantage when it comes to working in cybersecurity: the ability to navigate a male-dominated field. Only 10% of cybersecurity professionals are women, but organizations like Women in Security Excelling (WISE) are working to organize and support women in the field.

Outsourcing The Issues

Finally, the shifting landscape of the legal field is also influencing associated employment opportunities for those interested in moving beyond traditional practice. One way to stay close to your legal roots, then, without actively taking on cases is to work in legal process outsourcing (LPO).

LPO is a way for businesses to call on legal assistance, say in drawing up contracts, preparing transcripts, writing patent applications, and performing other time-consuming tasks but at a lower cost. As a trained legal professional, however, you would qualify to do the most complex task or manage the work of other LPO contractors.

Like other ancillary legal positions and consultant work, your role in LPO would likely involve research, drafting key documents, and holding meetings with relevant parties – in essence, it’s a lot of the background work of a law firm. What it doesn’t involve, though, are back-breaking hours or constant litigation. In that regard, LPO work is much more relaxed and exists at a remove from traditional legal careers.

Law teaches countless transferable skills, and that’s great news in a field known for high levels of burnout. If you’re thinking of transferring away from mainstream law work, consider what you know – and what parts of your current role you’re passionate about. Let passion drive you and direct what comes next.

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