Updated on July 8, 2015
How to find your dream job when you have a law degree but don’t want to practice law
So you have attained (or are working toward attaining) your Juris Doctor but have decided not to practice law. If you already have your dream job, then you are set. But not knowing what your dream job is does not have to be a nightmare. You just need to take a step back and do some groundwork.
First, try to remember why you initially decided to go to law school. Many times, the past provides a key to your future. Then consider bringing your other degrees into the mix. If you truly enjoyed your area of study in undergraduate or graduate school, you might be able to have the best of both worlds by finding a career in which you can use all of your degrees.
Second, reflect on previous jobs – paid or volunteer positions – that you have enjoyed. What did you like about these opportunities? Was it the job, the people or even the location? Next, consider those jobs you did not enjoy. Again, try to determine why it was not a good fit for you. If you need help with these reflections, there are various assessment tests you can take. As mentioned in an earlier blog, your school’s Office of Career Services may offer them at reduced rates or you may use the services of a life coach. Knowing the qualities and characteristics that provide a good working environment for you will help you to narrow down potential employment fields.
Third, talk to folks. Maybe you know what you would like to do but you’re not sure how to get there. Do your research, find out who the key players are and then conduct informational interviews with them. Most of the time, people are happy to talk with interested individuals about their careers, and they may have some ideas about how you should proceed. You may meet even more people once you join a professional association affiliated with the type of job you want. Many times the association has a job board, and the membership list can be a great networking tool.
Fourth, become an advocate for yourself. There may be some careers in which it is not obvious how a J.D. would be beneficial, so be prepared to tell the employer about the transferrable skills, education and experience you bring to the table. Having a J.D. may make your application stand out for nonlegal jobs, but make sure to stand out because you have done your research on the employer and can provide them with the qualities they seek.
Finding a job where you do not practice law does involve work, but taking these steps can help you find your dream job where you and your degrees will be valued. Good luck!
Karen Hester, Director of Career Services and Director of Diversity and Inclusion