Nontraditional Career Paths at Law Firms

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01/18/2013 by loyolalawcso

By Hillary Mantis, via the National Law Journal

Did you know there are positions in large, prestigious law firms for lawyers seeking career alternatives — with no brief writing, contract reviews, or billable hours required?

There are several career paths for lawyers seeking non legal positions in law firms these days. Here are a few of the more popular options:

Legal Recruiting:
This position may be all too familiar to you — these are the staffers in law firms who coordinate the firm’s on campus recruitment program, summer associate program, and often manage the firm’s lateral hiring needs. If you were jealous of the people running the summer associate program at your firm, rather than practicing law, this may be a good future option for you. Skills needed: excellent people skills, management skills, attention to detail, and problem solving skills. This is not a career for someone who would like to be left alone in the office.

Marketing/Business Development:
As competition to attract clients and develop business has grown significantly, law firms have continued to develop marketing departments. Often staffed by lawyers, the marketing team assists lawyers with finding client development, speaking and writing opportunities, as well as preparing for client pitches. Skills needed: business and marketing skills and background, excellent writing skills, knowledge of the legal market.

Professional Development:
The professional development department at large law firms provides in house CLE (continuing legal education) and training opportunities for their lawyers. They also plan orientation programs, mentoring programs, retreats, and sometimes work on the lawyer review process, and other HR matters. Skills needed: program planning skills, knowledge of CLE requirements, attention to detail. Like recruitment, this career path has a high degree of people interaction, and requires very strong interpersonal skills.

Pro Bono Program Director:
Many large law firms help connect their firm’s lawyers with organizations that need pro bono legal assistance. The Pro Bono program director manages this for the firm. Skills needed: knowledge of the nonprofit world, litigation skills, management skills, and attention to detail.

If any of these positions interest you, start your research by checking for associations for each career path profiled; associations often have job listings, membership directories, and conferences. You can also join related LinkedIn groups, which also often have job listings. You can start to network, and adjust your legal resume to look more appropriate for the field. Fortunately, I have found that lawyers who have made this type of transition are generally happy to share their stories.

If you’re interested in alternative legal careers, be sure to save the date for the Alternatives to Practice Career Panel, February 19th @ 6:00 p.m.

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