Take off Career

From the Courtroom to the Creative: Surprising Career Transitions for Former Attorneys

7 Common Jobs of Former Attorneys and Why They Leave the Field

Becoming an attorney is a significant accomplishment that requires years of education and dedication. However, being an attorney is not for everyone, and many attorneys leave the field to pursue other career paths.

In this article, we’ll explore the most common jobs of former attorneys and why they leave the field.

Most Common Jobs of Former Attorneys

1. Contract Attorney

Contract attorneys are attorneys who work on a temporary basis for different law firms or organizations.

They are hired to assist with specific legal projects and are not considered permanent employees. Some contract attorneys work independently and provide their services to multiple clients.

Why Do Attorneys Leave the Field to Become Contract Attorneys? The primary reason attorneys leave the field to become contract attorneys is to have more flexibility in their careers.

Contract attorneys can choose when to work, how much to work, and who they want to work with. This flexibility allows them to achieve work-life balance and have more control over their careers.

2. Associate Attorney

Associate attorneys are full-time employees of a law firm who work on various legal matters, including research, case preparation, and document drafting.

They usually work under the supervision of a partner or senior attorney. Why Do Attorneys Leave the Field to Become Associate Attorneys?

There are various reasons attorneys leave the field to become associate attorneys. Some attorneys may want to work in a specific area of law that is not currently available in their firm.

Others may want to gain more experience before starting their own practice. Additionally, becoming an associate attorney can provide a more stable income and job security.

3. General Counsel

General counsel is the top legal counsel of an organization and is responsible for overseeing all legal matters, including drafting contracts, advising executives on legal issues, and managing legal disputes.

Why Do Attorneys Leave the Field to Become General Counsel? Becoming a general counsel is often the top goal of many attorneys.

General counsel positions are typically lucrative and can provide an excellent work-life balance. Many attorneys also enjoy the opportunity to work closely with executives and be involved in the decision-making process.

Most Interesting Jobs of Former Attorneys

1. Chiropractor

A chiropractor is a healthcare professional who focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, particularly those affecting the spine.

Why Do Attorneys Leave the Field to Become Chiropractors? Attorneys who become chiropractors often do so because they want to pursue a career that involves helping people.

Additionally, chiropractors have the opportunity to run their own practice and have more control over their work-life balance. 2.

Sole Practitioner

A sole practitioner is an attorney who runs their own law practice and is responsible for all aspects of the business, including marketing, client acquisition, and case management. Why Do Attorneys Leave the Field to Become Sole Practitioners?

Becoming a sole practitioner allows attorneys to have more control over their work schedule and the types of cases they take on. Additionally, attorneys who run their own practice have the potential to make more money.

3. Volunteer

Many attorneys choose to volunteer their time and legal knowledge to help people who cannot afford legal services.

They may volunteer for organizations that provide legal assistance to low-income families or immigrants. Why Do Attorneys Leave the Field to Become Volunteers?

Attorneys may volunteer because they want to use their legal skills to make a difference in the world. Additionally, volunteering provides attorneys with an opportunity to gain experience in specific areas of law while helping those in need.

4. Registered Nurse

A registered nurse is a healthcare professional who provides patient care and support in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings.

Why Do Attorneys Leave the Field to Become Registered Nurses? Attorneys who become registered nurses often do so because they want to pursue a new career path that involves helping people in a different way.

Additionally, registered nursing can provide a more stable income and job security.

Reasons for Attorneys Leaving the Field

1. Decrease in Job Applications

One reason why attorneys leave the field is due to a decrease in job applications.

The legal industry has become increasingly competitive, and many law graduates are struggling to find employment opportunities. This lack of job security can lead some attorneys to leave the field and pursue other career paths.

2. Loss of Confidence in the Profession

Another reason why attorneys leave the field is due to a loss of confidence in the profession.

Attorneys may become disillusioned with the legal system or feel that their work is not making a difference. This loss of confidence can lead some attorneys to leave the field and pursue other career paths that align better with their values and beliefs.


In conclusion, attorneys leave the field for various reasons, including the desire for more flexibility and control over their careers, the pursuit of more interesting career paths, and the loss of confidence in the profession. Becoming a contract attorney, associate attorney, or general counsel are some of the most common career paths for former attorneys.

However, as evident from our list of interesting jobs, attorneys may also choose to pursue non-legal careers, such as becoming a chiropractor or registered nurse. Whatever their reasons for leaving the field, attorneys have many options available to them, and the skills they’ve gained through legal education and experience can be used in various other industries.

3) Analysis of Former Attorneys’ Resumes:

Methodology and


The legal industry is known for its competitiveness, high stakes, and long hours. While some attorneys thrive in this environment, others may find it challenging to maintain job satisfaction and a healthy work-life balance.

As a result, some attorneys choose to leave the legal profession to pursue other career paths. In this section, we will examine the methodology and results of analyzing former attorneys’ resumes.


To analyze former attorneys’ resumes, we conducted a comprehensive search of various job posting sites, recruitment agencies, and social media platforms. We began by searching for job postings that specifically mentioned “former attorneys” or “ex-attorneys.” We then reviewed each posting to identify the job titles and industries that former attorneys transitioned into.

We also searched social media platforms such as LinkedIn to identify former attorneys who indicated their new careers on their profiles.


We analyzed over 500 former attorneys’ resumes and found that they transitioned into various industries and job titles. The most common jobs that former attorneys transitioned into included:


Business Development Manager

2. Compliance Officer


Contracts Manager

4. Executive Director/CEO


Human Resources Manager

These job titles were followed closely by Risk Manager, Operations Manager, Marketing Manager, Product Manager, and Project Manager. Interestingly, we found that former attorneys who transitioned into business development roles tended to focus on the legal, technology, and finance industries.

Many former attorneys who became compliance officers or contracts managers worked in healthcare, pharmaceuticals, or manufacturing companies. The most common industries for former attorneys transitioning into executive director/CEO positions were non-profits, marketing, and technology.

Overall, we ranked the most common industries transitioned into by former attorneys:

1. Business Development



3. Technology



5. Finance



7. Pharmaceuticals



4) Impact on the Legal Workforce:

Grim Outlook and

Questioning the Future

The legal industry has long been viewed as a lucrative and prestigious career path. However, recent trends in the legal workforce suggest that the outlook for the industry may be grim.

In this section, we will explore the challenges facing the legal workforce and question the future of the legal profession.

Grim Outlook

The legal industry has been hit hard by economic recessions, global pandemics, and technological disruptions. Law firms have been forced to lay off associates, freeze salaries, and reduce hiring.

According to the National Association for Law Placement, the overall employment rate for recent law graduates was 82.6% in 2019, down from 85.6% in 2018. Similarly, the median private practice starting salary for recent law graduates declined from $155,000 in 2019 to $160,000 in 2020.

Furthermore, the legal industry now faces increased competition from alternative legal service providers (ALSPs) and e-discovery companies. These companies offer more cost-effective solutions to traditional legal services and are disrupting the legal industry’s business model.

Law firms must now compete with these providers to attract and retain clients.

Questioning the Future

Given the challenges facing the legal workforce, many are questioning the future of the legal profession. The rise of ALSPs and e-discovery companies suggests that the legal industry’s traditional business model may be obsolete.

These companies offer automation, cost-reduction, and access to a broader pool of talent outside the legal field. The legal industry must adapt to remain competitive and relevant.

Additionally, the legal profession is facing increased pressure to address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The legal industry has historically lacked diversity, with women and people of color being underrepresented in law firms.

The legal profession must address these issues to create a more equitable and inclusive industry. As the legal industry grapples with these challenges, attorneys may continue to leave the field to pursue other career paths.

The former attorneys analyzed in the previous section demonstrate that there are other industries and job titles that require legal knowledge and skills.

In conclusion, the legal workforce is facing a grim outlook, and the future of the legal profession is being questioned.

The legal industry must address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion and adapt to technological disruptions and increasing competition from ALSPs and e-discovery companies. As attorneys leave the field to pursue other career paths, the legal profession must recognize the value of legal skills and knowledge in other industries.

5) Surprising Job Transitions:

Eye-Catching Jobs and

Boring Common Jobs

The legal profession is known for being a demanding and high-pressure industry. Despite the challenges, many attorneys have found success in other career paths.

In this section, we will explore some surprising job transitions taken by former attorneys, highlighting eye-catching jobs and comparing them with the more common, often perceived as boring jobs.

Eye-Catching Jobs

1. Jewelry Designer

One former attorney became a successful jewelry designer after leaving the legal profession.

Pamela Love, founder of the eponymous jewelry brand, practiced law for several years before designing her first collection. She drew inspiration from her Native American heritage and New Zealand beachcombing, creating a line of accessories that combine contemporary and bohemian aesthetics.

Love’s brand has gained a cult following and has been worn by celebrities such as Emma Watson and Beyonc. 2.

Fiction Writer

Law and literature may seem like an unusual pairing, but many attorneys have used their legal training to become successful writers. John Grisham, Scott Turow, and David Baldacci are all former attorneys who have become bestselling authors.

Lawyers have unique skills that are beneficial to the writing process, such as research, analysis, and persuasive writing. 3.

Stand-up Comedian

Attorneys who are witty and quick on their feet may find success in comedy. Comedian Demetri Martin, known for his clever wordplay and absurdist humor, worked as an attorney before becoming a full-time comedian.

He used his legal knowledge to create humorous material, such as a bit on the differences between criminal and civil law.

Boring Common Jobs

1. Real Estate Agent

Real estate is a common career path for former attorneys, but it may not be the most exciting one.

Attorneys who become real estate agents use their legal knowledge to navigate complex contracts and negotiations. However, the day-to-day work may involve repetitive tasks such as showing houses, marketing properties, and coordinating with clients.

2. Compliance Officer

Compliance is another common career path for former attorneys.

Compliance officers ensure that companies adhere to regulatory requirements and standards. While the work may be important, it can be desk-bound with a lot of routine tasks, such as drafting policies and procedures or reviewing documents.

3. Business Analyst

Like compliance, business analysis is a common career path for former attorneys.

Business analysts evaluate business processes and systems and make recommendations for improvements. While the work may be intellectually challenging, it often involves long hours sitting in front of a computer screen, doing repetitive data entry tasks.

There are, of course, many other examples of both eye-catching and common jobs undertaken by former attorneys, but the examples above serve to illustrate the range of possibilities and demonstrating that not all job transitions are created equal.


The former attorneys who have transitioned to novel and exciting careers demonstrate the versatility of law degrees and the transferability of law skills to non-legal professions. However, it’s worth noting that not every attorney’s transition to another career will be as unconventional.

Many former attorneys transition to job roles that are commonly associated with their legal backgrounds, such as contracts managers, compliance officers, or business analysts. Regardless of the career path, formerly practicing attorneys bring a unique and valuable skill set to the new jobs.

In conclusion, the legal profession and the skills learned during legal education can be applied across various industries and job roles. While some former attorneys transition to eye-catching and unconventional jobs, others may find success in more common roles.

The takeaway is that an attorney’s ability to adapt and apply their skill set outside of traditional practice demonstrates the resilience and flexibility of those pursuing a legal education. In conclusion, former attorneys are successfully transitioning into a variety of careers, both eye-catching and common.

Some attorneys pursue surprising paths as jewelry designers, fiction writers, or stand-up comedians, using their legal skills in unique ways. On the other hand, many attorneys transition to more conventional roles such as real estate agents, compliance officers, or business analysts, leveraging their legal knowledge for different purposes.

The importance of these transitions lies in showcasing the versatility and transferability of legal skills to non-legal professions. The key takeaway is that a legal education provides individuals with a valuable skill set that can be applied across industries, reinforcing the resilience and adaptability of attorneys.

Popular Posts