Legal Skills You Can Use in Any Job
While I definitely don’t subscribe to the “Law is a flexible degree!” theory, it is true that legal skills can come in handy in any job. If you’re considering a career switch, and you’re concerned that your background as a lawyer has made you too specialized, think more broadly. You’ve developed many skills that can be put to non-legal use.
The biggest advantage of a legal education for non-legal work is that it taught you to think more clearly.
Yes, all those hours suffering through the Socratic method were good for something! It’s easy to forget when you spend time with other attorneys, but most people haven’t been trained to focus intently on the facts of a situation, research options, and make specific, reasonable arguments about what to do. Disciplined, clear thinking is valuable across the board, from business situations to government deliberations and more.
Although you wouldn’t believe it from some legal briefs, lawyers are typically fairly clear writers. This is a skill that can be used in many contexts, including traditional marketing, content marketing, technical documentation, PR, and many other career paths.
Attention to Detail
Lawyers can be a bit pedantic, but that attention to detail is valuable! Rather than glossing over things, lawyers are trained to focus on the details (and, hopefully, identify the most salient details from a sea of information).
If you’re tired of focusing on legal details, consider other areas where this skill set might come in handy. A few ideas: QA testing, product management, copy editing, and so on.
Dealing with difficult people and situations.
One reason many lawyers burn out is that they’re constantly dealing with conflict.
Even if you want to leave all of this behind, the reality is that you’ve probably developed some useful coping skills and techniques. You’ll be the calm one in a corporate meeting when everyone else is stressing out over a minor personality conflict between coworkers.
A Great Work Ethic
Lawyers (and law students) work longer hours in more stressful conditions than many other jobs. If you survived law school, passed the bar exam, and practiced as a lawyer, you’ve probably got (or developed) a very good work ethic. This will serve you well in any career you ultimately choose!
Identifying and Solving Problems
From the earliest days of a 1L year, when you started “issue spotting,” your legal education has trained you to spot potential problems. In certain contexts, this trait can be annoying, but it’s also useful! Any new undertaking is bound to face bumps in the road. As long as you can focus on productively pointing out potential problems and offering solutions, your legal risk-radar can be put to good use in a variety of contexts.
Lawyers are very good at tracking down answers — it’s what you get paid to do as an attorney. Excellent research abilities come in handy in almost all jobs these days, whether you need to track down the ingredients for a fancy cupcake recipe or figure out if the name of your company’s new product is offensive in a foreign language.
Queries that might stump the average person are nothing to an attorney! You’ve been looking for obscure precedents for years…transitioning these skills to a non-legal context should be a piece of cake.
Part of being a practicing attorney is speaking in front of people, so it is definitely something that you learn in law school and likely already had in your skill set before you decided to go to law school. In any position where you are managing other people, there will be instances of public speaking, even if the crowd is relatively small. Knowing how to be confident and collected while delivering information to a group of people is a skill that many struggle with, and definitely something that belongs on a resume.
The logical reasoning that was stressed so much on the LSAT and in law school will come in handy in the future, whether you end up in a legal role or not Being able to figure out how to take something from an idea to an actual product or service is crucial, and not everyone is blessed with understanding how to get from point A to point B.
The logical reasoning that you likely fought with and learned will help you see the possibilities, and you’ll be the one laying out concrete solutions.
Working With Others
More than anything, law school taught you how to work with others. Whether it was in study groups, on the law review, in moot court, or in an internship or externship, you likely had to continuously work alongside others. This skill is crucial in the realm of any job, and likely something that is listed on most of the job postings you’ll come across. All of those hours that you spent working closely with others will definitely pay off down the line.
If you’re feeling trapped in your legal career and you’re not sure how to make a change, inventory the legal skills you’ve developed that can be applied in other contexts. You’ll likely find you have a plethora of useful skills, which employers would be happy to have you employ on their behalf!