Next step in your career

Many of my clients say they feel suffocated in their careers. For whatever reason, they do not like the profession they have chosen for themselves: they feel they’re poorly fit for their careers, and they dislike everything associated with their jobs, their companies, and their bosses. So, the question is, what to do next?

Recently, I had such a client, who is a successful and experienced litigation lawyer but completely fed up with the profession and feeling stuck. In his case, we explored and evaluated other options in related fields where a law degree and years of experience could be beneficial.

One of his options was to move into the field of negotiation and conflict resolution as a mediator. For such work, his legal knowledge could be helpful. Another option was the banking field, wherein estate planning and tax planning are helpful services offered for depositors. Some lawyers gravitate into academia by teaching law or doing research in the field of law. Many lawyers are good writers too, and so, writing or journalism might be a suitable field. For instance, writing books about the law made John Grisham famous. Other lawyers have morphed into politics by joining the government. For example, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama used to teach courses in constitutional law at the University of Chicago.

Some lawyers become entrepreneurs, an occupation in which negotiation skills and knowledge of the law are essential and at times even crucial. Public advocacy is an area in which one influences policy decisions, and lawyers could do well at that. A lawyer could also consider moving into the human resources field by assisting with recruiting and human resources policies. Large businesses always need legal help in their mergers and acquisitions departments. And there are endless other options. How about becoming a Foreign Service diplomat, a law school counselor, or a law school recruiter?

As you can see, in this case we explored fields related to the skills and background of an experienced legal litigator, but the same process could be applied to the skills and backgrounds of those in other fields and professions. The process is not simple; it requires due diligence and willingness to accept change. Horses wear blinders to avoid distractions and scares, but looking all around and seeing more than just what’s narrowly in front could be helpful—especially in the face of a desire to change careers.