If anyone out there is asking “What is Law Day?”, I’m here to assure you that you are not alone. Law Day is held very year on May 1st and, per the American Bar Association, the purpose is “to celebrate the role of law in our society and to cultivate a deeper understanding of the legal profession.” In light of that and the fact that many lawyers experience burnout in their legal careers, I thought I would focus this issue’s editor’s message on alternative careers in the law. The law degree you worked so hard for, and likely paid so much for, doesn’t mean you have to spend your career arguing in court (or, in recent time, you may spend your time arguing via Zoom) or slaving away billing by the hour at a law firm. There are many ways you can utilize your law degree to benefit yourself and society without litigating or tracking your .1s.
Here are some alternative legal careers that may not be on your radar and may appeal to you:
While a full-time position as a law professor is likely an option you’ve been aware of, there are also readily available part-time teaching positions at local colleges. Further, in the virtual world, you can likely secure a position anywhere in the state. I served as a part-time professor for St. Pete College teaching Legal Research & Writing and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It was a welcome change from the stress of litigating and the class was only once a week for three hours. I truly bonded with the students who rewarded my efforts with hugs, lovely cards, and a bottle of champagne at the end of the course. I’ve never received that type of affection from an opposing attorney or judge—ha! In addition to teaching at schools, teaching practicing attorneys is another career option. Teaching CLEs and selling them can be a lucrative business. A friend of mine also made a career switch to teaching attorney-training seminars in house for a large title company. Many find teaching to be a welcome change from the adversity of lawyering.
Take your skill set and go in-house with a company that regularly needs your type of legal service. There are roles as general counsel, in-house litigation teams, and executives. My friend, who was an employment law attorney, went to work for a large health care organization. In this scenerio, you could obtain a great salary, while still reducing their legal fees from having to pay your full hourly rate for 40 hours a week. You would no longer need to track those .1s! A friend of mine, who specialized in employment law, did just this and has never looked back.
Sheriff Bob Gualtieri served as Chief Deputy and General Counsel for the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office prior to being appointed Sheriff by Governor Rick Scott. Sheriff Gualtieri was then elected in 2012 and 2016 to continue serving as Sheriff.
My dear friend and stellar attorney Amanda Singleton learned as a young attorney the struggle caregivers face. After having her personal and professional life derailed by the burden of caregiving, she turned her struggles into a successful career of care and service by becoming a caregivers’ advocate. Through her law practice, she is able to serve a client base of expectant or present caregivers to address their legal needs. She also speaks and writes as a family caregiving expert for AARP and advocates for law and policy changes that affect caregivers like paid family leave. She also founded Caregivers in the Workplace, which trains employers on how to recruit and retain working caregivers and assist them in meeting their obligations at home and work.
Write a book. Host seminars. Become a coach to other lawyers. If inspiring and guiding others is your personal zone
of genius, why not focus that positive energy on helping others with their legal careers while building a legal career
for yourself? Start by mentoring, writing, and speaking, then start a career as a coach or go to work for a company that coaches attorneys or professionals. Companies like Atticus focus their business on coaching attorneys. The advisors and experts who work for Atticus teach seminars and write articles and books to guide attorneys through the highs and lows of their practice.
If you find yourself dreaming of an alternative legal career, there are many options. Google alternative legal careers and you’ll find dozens of alternatives. If the thought of a career change is as overwhelming as your billable hour requirement, start small. Teach a part time class, volunteer to help an organization you are passionate about, or volunteer to mentor to try your hand at coaching. Overall, know that your legal education is valuable to society and has many more uses than just working for a law firm.
Be proud of your profession and yourself. I’m proud to be a member of the St. Petersburg Bar Association and proud of
the amazing group of attorneys we have here in our special city.
Your friend and colleague in the honorable legal profession,