Second careers for lawyers

Man on type rope above city stress

We help many different professionals and executives to change career, and especially we work with a lot of lawyers. Can you imagine a job where you have to account for every minute of your time? Stressful!

In her book. ‘The Shift – the future of work is already here’, Lynda Gratton writes that is important to have deep mastery of a sector and we have written 2 books and over 18 articles in the legal profession.

Lawyers are bright, challenging, independent critical thinkers and keep us on our toes! Their profession is going through huge challenge and change – it is becoming a market.

Lawyers’ training and job mean that they can find career change hard and are risk averse by nature, so change is especially daunting.

Here is a list of 19 reasons why lawyers can find career change hard:

1. Conformist by nature;
2. Trained to follow precedent, not go the opposite way;
3. Risk averse in character;
4. Parental pride in offspring being a lawyer;
5. Fear of people thinking failed in second career;
6. Avoidance of showing weakness;
7. Difficulty of letting go of perceived status ‘”Oh, you are a lawyer!”;
8. Linear thinking does not help to identify new career options/jobs;
9. Picking holes/reductive thinking & identifying counter arguments is likely to magnify the possible barriers to change out of proportion; and
10. Leaving clear career milestones of legal profession for no milestones can feel like stepping off into a void;
11. Anxiety – worry that you will make a mistake/make the wrong decision;
12. Deep specialism of law makes it feel like you have more to lose by giving it up;
13. High cost of training to be a lawyer feels like wasted investment/money down the drain;
14. Black and white thinking – ‘no going back’ if new career doesn’t work and with so many lawyers seeking work, will never get a job again;
15. Lawyers pride themselves on knowledge and being an expert, so leaving this for no knowledge and starting at the bottom of the ladder feels very risky;
16. Trained to look for downsides, so a career change can feel dangerous;
17. Dislike of marketing yourself/negative associations with self-promotion;
18. Having to convince others of your expertise in a new area with little/no experience can make you feel like a ‘fraudster’; and
19. Lawyers learn by experience, and so embarking on a new career can make you feel very uncomfortable, inauthentic and exposed.

What points would you add?

Second careers for lawyers are important. There are less partner places to go around, they are used to a career with clear milestones, it is an ‘up or out’ career model, inflexible for working mothers and it is a profession where success is very much public, published tables in Chambers and Legal 500.

As a career expert and someone with in-depth knowledge of the legal profession, we are in a great position to help lawyers find a second career that suits them. We were the career coach to the managing partner of Clifford Chance, now on their second career after law. Another client is now lecturing, another is a company secretary.

Next week – 14 reasons why lawyers are well equipped to make a career change a success.

Our web site for the legal profession is

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About Energise - The Talent Liberation Company

Talent liberator - career change, executive coaching and employee engagement. PS Love writing too and write many articles. Background in marketing and brand strategy and communication and unusual analytical and lateral brain - great for new career directions and ideas!
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