9 Jobs You Can Do With a Legal Degree—Besides Practice Law

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Maybe you've just finished your first summer job after 1L and the idea of becoming your boss in ten years doesn't sit well. Or, maybe you've been pounding the pavement as a corporate lawyer for two decades and you're totally burnt out. Changing occupations may seem daunting, but luckily, the skills you obtain during law school and as a lawyer are transferrable to a number of other fields. If life as a lawyer isn't making you happy, consider using your legal background in one of these jobs:

Job 1: Arbitrator

Arbitrators act as a third party to help two parties settle disputes out of court. Every state has different rules for becoming an arbitrator, but as a lawyer-adjacent career, you should be able to become an arbitrator with relative ease.

Advantages include a more manageable work schedule than a corporate lawyer, and the ability to help people resolve problems fairly. Plus, as courts are backlogged, more and more people are turning to arbitrators, meaning there's plenty of work. Must possess excellent communication skills and discretion. Per the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average annual salary is: $73,020.

Job 2: Journalist

If legal writing is one of your strengths, put your writing skills to use as a reporter on a legal beat. Your understanding of the complicated legal system, access to expert legal sources, and work ethic could make you a very successful reporter—and an attractive hire. Must possess determination and an ability to meet deadlines. Per the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average annual salary of a journalist is: $51,550.

Job 3: Entrepreneur

Have a great business idea? Your experience navigating complicated contracts and understanding of labor laws and taxes will make setting up your business much easier than it is for most. Plus, the work ethic you've honed as lawyer will certainly come in handy for all the challenges that await any entrepreneur. Advantages include being your own boss and a schedule that's entirely dictated by you. Must possess a resilient, can-do attitude and long-term vision. It's hard to predict salaries for entrepreneurs, as they vary greatly by business and location, but keep in mind that it may take years to turn a profit.

Job 4: Law Enforcement

If you are passionate about the law, why not get on the front lines and be the one to enforce it fairly, or to change it from within? We need police officers, detectives, captains, and commissioners who understand the legal system. They are tasked with enforcing the law, and a former lawyer brings that vital knowledge to the table. Plus, a law enforcement career gives lawyers who might be antsy from being cooped up indoors the opportunity to make sure that the law is practiced fairly in the field. Must possess excellent verbal communication skills, ethical behavior, and an enthusiasm for teamwork. Per Payscale, a police captain's average yearly salary is: $76,178.

Job 5: Entertainment Agent

From representing actors and directors, to writers and entire production companies, agents in the entertainment agency make deals and work tirelessly on the behalf of their clients to set up projects that ensure fair and maximum compensation. Experience with contracts and negotiation are paramount for success as an agent, two things that lawyers are known for. Must posses the power of persuasion. Standard compensation is 10% of what clients make, so income can vary greatly. Per the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, an agent's average annual salary is: $90,870.

Job 6: Politician

Many politicians on both sides of the aisle cut their teeth as lawyers. Notable presidents, senators, and mayors have transitioned from life as lawyers to life as elected officials, and a legal background can help anyone get into local politics.

A lawyer's ability to deliver an impassioned argument will help in debates and speeches on the campaign trail, while an understanding of the law and the way government is structured, as well as skills like negotiation and analytic ability, will help lawyers succeed once elected. Must possess excellent problem solving skills and the ability to compromise. This map from Zippia gives you an idea of what Governors and state representatives make in every state. State reps in California, one of the most lucrative states for politicians, average $97,197 per year, while New Mexico state reps make just $7,425 per year.

Job 7: Activist

Activists can't make a difference with passion alone. They need people on their team with organizational skills and legal prowess in order to enact change. If there's a cause that especially fires you up, you can be the one to take a topic from a hashtag to a living, breathing movement. Whether it's gun control, women's rights, or the environment, your knowledge of the law and how to change it will be an invaluable asset to any activist group or organization. Must possess excellent logistic and communication skills. Per PayScale, the average salary for social activist jobs is: $64,149.

Job 8: Law Professor

If life outside of law school isn't doing it for you, maybe you belong back in the classroom—at the podium. Teaching is a rewarding profession that provides a considerable amount of free time for writing and the security of tenure down the line. Use your legal mind to educate the next generation of lawyers, passing down the skills and wisdom you have to help them succeed. Must possess excellent oration and listening skills. Per PayScale, average annual salary is: $125,000.

Job 9: Legal Recruiter

You know what it takes to be a lawyer; you just don't want to be one anymore. In this case, life as a legal recruiter may be a perfect fit—especially if you're a people person.

Use your knowledge and experience to help businesses find the right lawyers and individuals find the best law firms. You'll enjoy more flexibility and a better work-life balance than many associates. Keep in mind that most recruiters are paid on commission, with a low base salary coupled with a percentage of the starting salary of the candidates you place. This risk-based compensation structure is not for everyone, but if you do a good job and work in a city like NYC or DC, your commissions could earn you a very comfortable lifestyle. Must possess a positive attitude and personable demeanor. The national average salary, according to Simply Hired, is $51,000, however, those in the top 10% of this field make over $98,000/year.

There are a few more options out there, but these are the initial ones that stand out. Even if you have a law degree and don't want to continue practicing, you can get creative in your pursuits and still use your degree as leverage.

Updated on Aug 9, 2018