What do you think of when you think of a career in law? Long hours? No social life? Mandatory suit and tie for the next 30 years? That assumption that a career in law is tedious, stuffy and difficult has led to a decline in the appeal of legal careers recently.
But a career in law doesn’t necessarily mean being a criminal lawyer. If you have a law degree, you have many different specialty paths available to you, and each can be fulfilling and lucrative.
Here are some ways that modern law graduates are using their skills in ways lawyers a few decades ago would never have thought of:
1. Sports Agent
If you’re passionate about a particular sport, why not leverage that into a career? While there isn’t any particular certification required to become a sports agent, most sports agents actually have law degrees. Being an agent requires negotiating contracts, arranging financial matters, legal consulting and public relations—all areas where having a law degree would come in handy.
To become a successful agent, you’ll need a working knowledge of contract and sports law, and possibly the willingness to shout “Show me the money!” into your phone.
2. Entertainment Lawyer
A career in entertainment law might not be the typical Hollywood dream, but entertainment lawyers get to work with actors, musicians and creative types on a daily basis. In this role, your responsibilities would include contract negotiations, defending against breaches of contract, protecting a client’s public image, protecting the client against financial difficulties and possibly even defending against the occasional drug conviction, trashed motel room or class action lawsuit from angry fans.
Many lawyers get into law out of a desire to help others. Moving out of law into advocacy could be a great way to use the client relations skills one picks up in the legal profession.
Advocates work on behalf of someone else, often those who need their rights protected in some way. While advocacy tends to have a more modest pay than a traditional legal career, the personal satisfaction ratio may end up being quite a bit higher.
4. Entrepreneurship and Recruiting
The skills you learn in law school can easily translate into starting and managing a successful business. Skills in contract negotiation, client relations and financial negotiation can all prove invaluable assets when striking out on your own.
Another option for those full of entrepreneurial spirit is legal recruiting or headhunting. A good legal recruiter needs to be driven, likable, patient and persuasive and have a firm understanding of how legal firms operate on a daily basis.
5. Politics and Journalism
A law degree is widely considered a prerequisite to going into state or national politics—knowing the law, after all, is a necessary foundation for making or changing the law. Next to military service, law school is the most common path to getting elected to public office. Law school graduates have a number of political career paths open to them.
Television or print journalism is another common career path for law school graduates. Many highly visible media figures have law degrees. All major television networks have several correspondents who comment on legal matters. Star Jones, Geraldo Rivera and Cynthia McFadden all acquired their law degrees before moving into their television careers.
Going into education doesn’t have to mean a stuffy professorial job in a classroom somewhere. Having a law degree can be a great marketing boost to a traditional teaching profession, but there are also more informal teaching options like coaching, consulting and public speaking.
If you’ve already established a successful legal career and are looking to move on, now might also be a good time to break into legal consulting, or showing other law firms how to become more profitable and efficient.
In the 21st century, a career in law has expanded beyond the courtroom and the law office. If you have the skills and desire to make your own career path, you can break the stereotype and find a career you find both satisfying and profitable.
Noble McIntyre is a founding partner of McIntyre Law in Oklahoma City and an experienced Oklahoma personal injury lawyer.