Alternative careers for lawyers (with duties and tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 9 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Lawyers are professionals who advocate on behalf of individuals in various court proceedings and assist their clients in situations where the law is under discussion. In this profession, both solicitors and barristers require highly advanced knowledge of domains such as real estate, civil, intellectual property, environment, securities, marital matters and professional liability. After your career as a lawyer, you may find it is time to transition to a job where you can utilise these skills in a new way. In this article, we discuss alternative careers for lawyers and highlight their tasks.

10 alternative careers for lawyers

There are many alternative careers for lawyers as there is a high demand and scope for these professionals, apart from assessing cases, documenting legal paperwork and other administrative tasks. You can consider pursuing non-law jobs associated with your legal speciality. Here are some career options you can consider:

1. Risk manager

National average salary: £51,352 per year

Primary duties: A risk manager assists companies in implementing measures and mitigating losses, both financial and physical assets. Lawyers are professionals who can combine their legal and business acumen to understand the array of laws surrounding risk decisions for their businesses. They can explore an alternative career in risk management to educate their clients about the regulatory, litigation and legislative environments that affect their business and meet the right balance of risk and reward.

2. Policy analyst

National average salary: £36,745 per year

Primary duties: Public policy involves a governing body's efforts to address an issue of widespread public interest. Lawyers can alternatively pursue policy careers where their duties include advocating, drafting, implementing or analysing laws and policies. They can apply their legal analysis skills, including skills and previous jobs and legal training, to draft bills with legislators, come up with regulations and advocate for political issues. Often lawyers with an interest in policy can work as research fellows, lobbyists for large corporations, legislative staffers and regulatory analysts.

3. Journalist

National average salary: £25,927 per year

Primary duties: Lawyers can consider journalism as an alternative career option without having a degree in journalism. Legal journalism combines the legal world and journalism, where these professionals comprehend the legal matter at hand and convey it to the general public through various modes and platforms. This can include blog posts, social media coverage and newspapers where legal journalists can educate the unversed with legal terms and issues related to constitutional law, human rights law, jurisprudence and criminal law to spread awareness.

Related: How to become a journalist

4. Chief legal officer

National average salary: £95,568 per year

Primary duties: Chief legal officers (CLOs) are legal executives who help companies follow regulatory and legal issues. There are lawyers with a Juris Doctor (JD) degree who mostly work for publicly traded companies. Their duties include overseeing the legal department and in-house attorneys, setting up training resources regarding legal matters for employees, consulting the company's board regarding regulations and legal advice and keeping the company founders informed about changing or new laws.

5. Financial analyst

National average salary: £36,729 per year

Primary duties: A common career trajectory for lawyers is becoming financial analysts, where they can provide their invaluable knowledge in financial planning and taxation. Both lawyers and financial analysts have common cognitive skills such as critical thinking, strategic awareness and corporate governance, which makes it possible for lawyers to switch from law to finance. As financial analysts, they're responsible for making well-informed commercial decisions to optimise business performance and strategy.

Related: How to become a financial advisor: the complete guide

6. Mediator

National average salary: £25,562 per year

Primary duties: Lawyers often train as mediators on what they can do well in mediation based on their specialised skills. As mediators, they help clients and provide practical and legal advice on matters raised. Lawyers who have experience as family law attorneys can become successful family law mediators to resolve disputes. The role of a mediator can differ according to the conflict and the mediation process, ranging from undertaking communications on behalf of the client to representing them during mediation.

7. Paralegal

National average salary: £23,908 per year

Primary duties: The transition from being a lawyer to a paralegal is easy because of their experience in the legal background and contributions to law firms. As paralegals, they can work in law and paralegal firms, federal and provincial courts, corporate legal departments, and financial institutions or work as self-employed paralegals. The duties involve drafting legal documents and correspondence, conducting investigations and documentary research, conducting client interviews, attend court or administrative hearings with attorneys.

Related: Paralegal job profile (with roles and responsibilities)

8. Tax consultant

National average salary: £41,452 per year

Primary duties: With the constant demand for tax law expertise, lawyers can transition to becoming tax consultants. Tax needs vary between individuals, small businesses and multinational corporations, and lawyers can take advantage of that. As tax consultants, they focus on audits and appeals, employee benefits, mergers and acquisitions, compliance, real estate or corporate tax. This can help them develop marketable skills, an understanding of customer service and more in-demand expertise.

Related: How to become a tax consultant: plus duties and skills

9. Investment banker

National average salary: £33,859 per year

Primary duties: It's common for lawyers to choose to become investment bankers. They can join technology banking firms or join merger and acquisition departments at banks for their professional advancement. As investment bankers, they're responsible for underwriting new debt and equity securities for companies, facilitating mergers and acquisitions and creating capital for other companies and institutions.

10. Compliance officer

National average salary: £34,705 per year

Primary duties: Compliance can be a good career option and alternative to traditional legal careers since it offers distinctive opportunities. Compliance professionals ensure a company or organisation adheres to federal and state regulations, abides by the laws and follows a code of ethics. Lawyers can identify a field such as credit intermediation and related activities, management of companies and enterprises, state government or local government to find a suitable compliance role. Compliance officers also work in finance, healthcare, corporate and government environments.

Tips for finding alternative careers as a lawyer

It may feel daunting to imagine beginning a new job after spending most of your career as a practising lawyer. Here are some tips you can take for a smooth career transition:

Get additional training

As a lawyer, you can transition into many advanced positions in several domains. Additional training can further prepare you and give you an advantage in the job market. Along with your existing skills, you can get certifications or industry experience in preferred areas such as finance, litigation, real estate, policing, intellectual property or compliance to gain more confidence and take the leap. Industry mentors can summarise employment and workplace cultures in different companies.

Build your network

Successful professionals have excellent networking abilities, as they help you in career growth. As a lawyer, it's necessary to maintain cordial and good professional relations with co-workers at your law firm. You can also attend formal networking events, reach out to your past clients and broaden your social media reach to build a strong network. In addition, you can volunteer at organisations, charitable causes and functions that provide invaluable experience and job leads. Tap on your business and personal network for referrals.

Related: 9 types of networking opportunities and their importance

Update your CV

Lawyers have many transferable skills, such as analytical, persuasive and capable of handling complex projects. You can update your CV by adding and re-framing relevant competencies to your legal experience and job application to fit the job you want. For instance, if you have worked as a litigator, you can point to the development of analytical skills.

Consider specialisation

As a lawyer, you're constantly exposed to a variety of work prospects. Choosing a specialisation that interests you can help in meeting the job demands and forge a deeper understanding of your new career option. There are different specialisations such as civil law, criminal law, tax law, international law, corporate law and patent law that you can choose to open up new career opportunities in growing sectors.

Related: 9 career options for finance law specialists (with salaries)

Take professional support

Considering alternative careers can be a big step in a lawyer's career. As a lawyer, you can seek professional support from your co-workers at your law firm or consider career transition coaching to get more clarity and find the right job. By soliciting regular feedback from a professional coach, you can assess how you can fit into the new role and get help in forming a plan of action.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries‌ ‌may‌ vary‌‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌hiring‌ ‌organisation‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌candidate's‌‌ experience,‌ ‌academic‌ background‌ ‌and‌ ‌location.‌

Explore more articles