A legal career can offer intellectual satisfaction and an opportunity to help others, solve problems, and earn well, but there may come a point when you feel ready for a new challenge.
Jobs for life are no longer necessarily the dream; a recent survey has found that 75% of millennials believe in changing jobs regularly in order to fulfill their own ambitions and find the work/life balance they crave. Of course, ambitions and circumstances also change over time, so the factors that drew you to a legal career in the first place may no longer still spark the same enthusiasm. Whether you’ve always dreamed of running your own restaurant or teaching art to kids in inner city schools, the advantage of having built a career in law is that you will have developed many transferable skills and experiences to take with you. You should consider first, however, what is motivating this desire for change, and whether it’s the right path for you at this moment.
Do you need a change or a rest?
A 2019 Gallup study of nearly 7,500 employees found that 67% reported feeling burnt out at work sometimes or very often. Modern life is busy, and a legal career can demand a lot in terms of mental energy and hours spent at work. One of the most important things to establish when considering a career change is whether you simply need a break, a change of role, or a completely fresh start. Some law firms offer sabbaticals or secondments, which might be the change you need.
What’s the dream?
A poll from recruitment agency Monster found that 64% of respondents dreamt about having a different job “every second of every day.” For many people, law is a career that offers stability and financial reward, as well as exciting challenges and problem solving, but there may come a point in later life when you feel ready to pursue a different passion. Ensure that you have a good support network in place and are financially secure – it is estimated that 50% of 36-44 year olds carry a debt of $2,500 on credit cards alone – before committing to re-training, investing in a start up, or taking a potential pay cut.
What skills can you take with you?
One huge advantage of changing career from law later in life is that you can command a great deal of respect. Qualifying as a lawyer takes commitment, intelligence and hard work, all of which are highly prized in other fields, too. By transferring later in life, you can also bring experience, industry knowledge, and a calm head to your new career. If possible, try to arrange work experience or networking opportunities with people in your chosen new profession so that not only can you be confident in your move, but you can also assure potential employers of your commitment and enthusiasm for their field.
Changing career in later life is increasingly common, and can have many positives for both you and your employer. A legal career can offer intellectual satisfaction and an opportunity to help others, solve problems, and earn well, but there may come a point when you feel ready for a new challenge. Allow yourself some time to reflect on your true motivations, ensure that you are financially secure enough to take a leap, and be assured that your legal background can provide a fantastic springboard into other areas of life.