Post # 1
To summarize, for those like me who don’t always read long-ish posts:
1) What kind of job do you have, if you have one that doesn’t require a specific degree?
2) How did you find a job if you switched careers?
3) Any brilliant ideas on what I should do with my life? lol
So, I’m 27 and already I think I want to change careers. I have a BA with double major in sociology and criminology. I worked (serving) through college, so no internships/relevant experience. Then I went to law school. Did well throughout school.
I’ve spent the last 4 years as a litigator. And I just kind of hate it. I don’t think I want to be a lawyer AT ALL anymore. To complicate matters, I’ve just done general civil litigation which means I haven’t really specialized in any industry, just done a case here and there with different stuff. I wouldn’t mind doing something legal or legal/related I guess… but I don’t want to be a legit “lawyer” in terms of litigating working for a firm.
But literally all I’m qualified to do is serve burgers and try cases.
I desperately want to make a change but I have no idea how or to what. I have no idea what i want to do. I feel like I’d be happier just working a “normal office job” but I don’t have any concept of what is out there or how to do that. And I don’t feel like I’m qualified for anything. I have spent some time browsing monster.com but everything wants relevant experience, none of which I have.
And, I don’t hate my job ENOUGH to quit in favor of some job making 30k/year at the very bottom. I guess I feel like even though I don’t have experience in any industry, I do have tons of experience negotiating and working under pressure, and I feel like I could be valuable. And I don’t want to take a more-than-50% paycut.
So…. any advice? Anyone who totally changed career directions? How did you do it? How did you figure out what to do, and convince someone to give you a chance when you’re totally changing industries?
Post # 3
This is a great thread! Can’t wait to see the responses!
So, what would be a comfortable salary range for you in an alternative career field- as I know money can sometimes dictate things as far as sector/speciality etc.
Post # 4
This doesn’t really answer your question but I wanted to say that I have been where you are and sometimes, unexpectedly, it can get better. I am a corporate attorney, specializing in securities. I have been practicing since 1997 and hated it for most of that time. I was sure that I was supposed to be doing something more creative. I switched from a big law firm and went in-house about 8 years ago and things definitely improved. As an in-house lawyer, you have more of a collaborative feel with your clients. The hours are also somewhat better. That said, I still thought I should be doing something else. in 2008, the financial institution I worked for went under and I got another in-house job at a new company. I have been there 3 years now and absolutely love my job. I love my boss. I love the company. I love what I am doing. It is extremely stressful so I know I will still probably retire early and am saving up as much as I can, but I know I will be happy doing this until then. So, the point is, sometimes you just have to find the right fit for you.
Post # 5
@CorgiTales: I want to weigh in because I’m in your shoes, however I went back to school in pursuit of my career change, so I can’t offer help in the non-degreed portion of your question.
But, along the lines of your field of work, would it be possible to work as an arbitrator? Not exactly putting in the work litigating, but still using your noodle in your trained area. It might be a welcome change from the day-in-day-out circumstances of being a lawyer.
OR, maybe you could head over into the insurance industry as a team leader / supervisor? I used to work in the industry (which I left to pursue a museum curatorial career) and lawyers often went to insurance companies when they grew weary of the court room.
Is there something you’re particularly interested in? You can always volunteer on weekends to get your “foot in the door” with your desired area of pursuit, build experience and business contacts that way, and eventually find an in with the new industry.
Post # 6
Is there anything you are passionate about that could lead to starting your own business? Or anything legal that you could be a consultant for?
I’m trying to think of things that require a degree but don’t care what it is in: sales? Enterprise Rent-a-car? haha
I’m not a lot of help, personally, since i’m a scientist. Crazy specific degrees up in here.
Post # 7
OMG, I could literally write your questions, OP. I am, and have been, a prosecutor for 6 years, and feel like I have no transferrable skills. I do NOT want to be a lawyer anymore, and feel completely lost as to how to move forward. Part of it is that I cannot fulfill the creative side of me at my current job. And part of is that, while I am doing ‘good’ for the community, it is very very difficult to keep going with the amount of stress I have on a daily basis.
Anyway, good luck, and I look forward to people’s responses to your post.
Post # 8
I have a pretty specific career (academic researcher in a physiology lab) but I can definitely commisserate on the needing a career change thought.
I got out of school at the bottom of the economy drop. Funding for research had been cut so much that every single company I contacted regarding scientific research positions was on a hiring freeze. Needing to make a salary to support myself, I went a different route and took a job in regulatory affairs with a medical device company. So still using my Biomedical Engineering degree but in a totally different way than what I wanted.
I realized pretty quickly that a job where I spent all day in a cubicle in an office in front of a computer wasn’t for me. Unfortuantely, it took me 2.5 years to make the career change and get back into a lab/research setting. It took some work to convince someone to give me a chance to get back into lab work. Even though I had plenty of experience from internships and undergraduate research in school, it had been 2.5 years since I’d set foot in a lab. I also took an almost 50% paycut to make the change but I am so much happier and more fulfilled now.
I hope you’re able to find a solution that makes you happier with your job and career. You spend so much of your life working that it is so stressful to not enjoy what you do day-in-and-day-out.
Post # 9
@Steinberg: That’s how I felt being a claims handler. Even though you were doing your best for claimants, they did not understand the laws under which you were doing your job, and blamed you for cases in which they did not prevail.
I also felt like I was neglecting my creative mind, and it was “soul crushing” to say the least. It seemed so thankless! I can understand how prosecution might feel the same, given the circumstances under which you work.
But don’t for a second think you don’t have transferrable skills! Your experience does count for something to someone. It’s just a matter of marketing yourself to the right industry / company. I’m sure it’ll happen!
Post # 10
@Eva Peron: Duh… should’ve shared that I guess! lol. I make about 65 now. I’d love to stay in the same range, but I’d probably be willing to go down to about 50 if I thought I’d really like the job and it had growth potential.
@namarie: Sigh. This is the kind of story that makes me think I should try another legal job. I know I’ve only had one, and I do frequently question whether I hate ALL law or just my (super strange, to be honest) work situation. But I was sitting in court today and I just wanted to screaaaam I was so freaking bored and I just got this overwhelming OMFG I CANNOT DO THIS ONE MORE YEAR feeling and felt like maybe I’d just be treading water moving to a different firm? Especially because my work/life balance is amazing right now and the only great part about my job. I mostly work from home and have a suuuper flexible schedule. So that is incredible and is the thing that has kept me hanging on this long. Its just, I hate the actual work sooo much. So I guess I worry about moving to another legal job because what if I hate the work just as much but now I have to do it in a suit 5 days/week… eek?
@StuporDuck: People didn’t have insurance experience before moving into that? I guess I don’t even know what that kind of job entails? My husband actually works for a huge insurance company (in corporate accounting) so I guess I feel moderately comfortable with the idea of working for an insurance company, I just didn’t think it was anything anyone would talk to me about since I’ve never done anything with insurance (save sueing insurance companies… lol).
@crayfish: lol not sure rental car agent would be a step up… 🙂 To be honest, I guess the only thing I’m particularly passionate about is photography. And I’ve been working for about 2 years building a side business doing that, second shooting weddings and doing portrait sessions. It is starting to go better, but considering my “comfort zone” of income, I just don’t feel like I can wait as long as it might take to build up enough business for photography (assuming I could make it at all, which is not guaranteed). I see that more as a long term plan, and I’d love to figure out something I could do for the next 5-7 years.
Post # 11
@Steinberg: oh man, that is a ROUGH job. Maybe you and I could team up and tour the country giving speeches about why you SHOULD NOT go to law school for 40k a pop eh?
Post # 12
Some words you may want to plug into a job search site just to get you an idea of career describptions, salaries and degree requirements: Consulting, analyst, mediation, professor, researcher , fund raising, grant writing, criminology, accounting, buyer, campaigner, public affairs/public relations ( also lobbying), international business, editor, FBI/CIA ( I also suggest looking into fed, state, and local gov jobs-law degree is usually very beneficial),
Your skills would certainly make you marketable and help you market a resume in a new field ( below are just a few):
Communication, both written and verbal
Analysing and problem solving
Using information from different sources
Attention to detail
I guess what I would also want to know is what do you love doing?! Do you like being behind the scenes or talking to people? Working with numbers, or being creative? Animals, medicine, writing? any types of special interests or secret career desires? lol
Post # 13
@CorgiTales: Well, there are different aspects of insurance you could potentially get yourself into, these are the most common:
- Workers Compensation (Injuries, examining liability / negligence for employers)
- Home Owners claims (anything from natural disasters, to contractor negligence)
- Auto claims /accidents / personal injury protection coverage
- Business / Casualty claims
Then you have different, more interesting sides to the coin:
- Fraud claims / litigation
- Municipality / General liability (I supported a county government once, was so much fun!)
- Errors & Ommissions
When you say you’ve worked on civil litigation, what does that mean exactly? Do you do tort claims? Financial issues? Injuries? These are definitely transferrable to insurance companies, and if you’ve had experience suing a carrier, I bet you know more than you think you do regarding how a claim is run. Maybe you wouldn’t be hired right away as a supervisor until you understood your company’s ideosynchracies, but claims adjusters make bank, depending on the types of claims they handle and their “level” of experience. I can’t imagine they’d have you doing “med-only” type claims with a law degree.
Arbitration might be fun too. You hear two insurance adjusters bickering about their side of a case, and you decide based on their evidence which party prevails. Maybe that would be boring since you hear that in court all the time, but I think it would be neat, just because your cases have a higher turn over rate, and you aren’t the one preparing all of the documents and correspondences to ever originate from that claim, so it’s a surprise to you every day. 🙂
Post # 14
@Eva Peron: wow you have a ton of great ideas! Thank you so much for thinking that through. I think I’m almost too emotional right now to think through this all rationally haha.
As to your question… um… I don’t know! haha. I mean all I’ve really done is be a lawyer. I do know I would want to do something less adversarial. One major complaint I have about my job is that it is 100% anger based, by definition. Everyone is angry, all the time. I’m sick of the fighting and strategy and dishonesty. I do like working with people, client meetings are generally a highlight of my day (well… not for *every* client but ya know.. heh). I really really like creating visual stuff or organizing things or planning things. I think I missed my calling as a graphic designer because I get super excited every time I have to make a pamphlet or power point or something. But, I do think I crave a job that has some amount of routine. My current job is so crazy, literally EVERY day is different and it is soul-crushing that after 4 years I don’t feel like I’ve mastered anything. I know a little about a ton. But not a ton about anything. I would love to work in an area specific enough I could become an expert and actually know wtf I was doing ever.
Post # 15
@CorgiTales: OMG… You are echoing me when I had to get the heck out of dodge! Insurance is nothing but angry people as well, depending on where you’re at. Maybe it’s not the best idea to get into claims if you feel this way lawyering… It’s a tough call. I spent 10 years doing some form of it, and got my hand in a LOT of different aspects, but never mastered one area either. But it was draining because you hardly got any appreciation for the work you were putting in to keep dollars paid out to a minimum.
That’s why I am pursuing a museum career: All art, all the time! And in my case, history / the stories of the past told through a museum setting / exhibit layout. Gah! It feels great to get the heck out of such a black and white industry.
Why don’t you try volunteering at places that seem interesting to you, so you get a feel for what it might be like to pursue them professionally? At the least, it’ll be a nice way to have a creative outlet. If you decide you can’t see yourself committing professionally, well at least you’ve expended a lot of pent up energy exploring it, gaining skills, knowing for certain how it fits into your life, or how to tweak it so you’re better suited, AND maybe make some new friends in the process? There’s nothing to lose by going that route. In my area, there are archeological digs going on all the time, museums need docents to lead tour groups, or heck, maybe take up a painting class at the local art center just for fun?
Post # 16
@StuporDuck: We do general civil litigation, which means we will take kind of any case (that we have time for) that doesn’t fall into the category of criminal, domestic, probate, real estate. So for example, right now the cases I’m working on include: Admiralty turned contract/corporate governance drama, foreclosure issues, personal injury (car accident), legal malpractice, contract/fraud/destruction of business, etc.
I actually think arbitration might be fun. I have a certificate in dispute resolution from law school (basically an extra course program i went through to specialize in negotiation/mediation/arbitration) so I definitely have some experience/interest in the field. I just never really see job postings for it. But I’ll keep my eyes peeled!