Changing career in the law

Thinking about a career change?  

Istock 809477310 Super

You may be considering moving on from the legal profession – perhaps you feel that you are not suited to it or are finding it hard to manage the pressures.  LawCare’s aim is to support you through this process and consider your options.

  • Reviewing the situation

    Before you make the decision to change career, ask yourself some questions:

    • When did you last take time off? Do you need a good holiday?
    • Would you feel differently if you could find a way to reduce the stress?
    • Are you bored? Would a change in specialism or area of practice help?
    • Do you need additional training or support to help you do your job better?
    • If a particular person were to leave your workplace, would you feel differently?
    • Does your organisation know that you are unhappy? Might they be willing to make changes to keep you?
    • Do your skills align with your current career path, and where will that path lead?
    • What would a career change require? Could your education and expertise transfer to a new career?
  • The three levels of career change
    • Job Change: doing the same type of work in a different setting, such as a more flexible organisation or even just changing to a different department or specialism.
    • Career Alteration: utilising your legal skills in a different setting – teaching at a law school, or working as an employed barrister, for example.
    • Career Transition: moving to a new career significantly different from the practice of law. This could involve retraining.
  • Believe in yourself

    The grass isn’t always greener elsewhere, and starting somewhere new can be difficult. Remember that you are a well educated and highly trained professional, who is worth employing. If you choose to leave the law altogether, don’t feel that the time you spent training has been wasted: your skills will be valuable elsewhere, and they don’t obligate you to remain in a job you don’t enjoy. And don’t make any drastic career decisions if you are depressed or experiencing another mental health concern. Go and see the GP and ensure you feel better before making major decisions about the future.

  • Careers counselling

    Be your own careers counsellor: Give yourself a career “check-up". Put together a comprehensive and detailed personal history including your professional status, education, employment, professional affiliations, marital and family background and financial needs. Remember to include all of your experiences in practice, including administration, staff relations or finance. Talk this through with someone, or brainstorm on a blank sheet of paper. Your aim should be to evaluate your career goals, clarify your values and priorities, and develop a concrete and realistic plan for changing job or career. There are careers counsellors who can help you identify your skills and strengths.

  • Some things to consider
    • What are your major and secondary skills, interests and capabilities?
    • What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Do your own SWOT (Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats) analysis
    • What part of your work do you enjoy most? What do you dislike about your job?
    • What do you do for fun? Could any of these lead to a potential job or career choice?
    • Are you prepared to take a pay cut in favour of greater job satisfaction?
    • Are you prepared to re-qualify in another career, with all the necessary cost, study and training that will entail?
    • Has the time come to go it alone in that business venture you’ve always wanted to try?
    • Would you like to relocate and does that entail a different lifestyle?
  • Recruitment agencies

    You may prefer to seek expert professional help, from a recruitment agency or professional careers counsellor or coach to get your CV up-to-date and as attractive as possible. You could also explore temporary or contract employment opportunities as a transitional option to get you out of an unhappy situation and to buy you some thinking time.

  • Tips for retirement

    If you are approaching retirement it is worth taking the time to think about how you will spend your time once retired, and making a plan. Many high-achievers working hard find it difficult to make the transition.

    •           Allow yourself time to think and reassess. Set new objectives and personal goals

    •           Take steps to redefine who you are. "Ex Partner" or "ex Head of" shouldn't define you for the next few decades.

    •           Be ready for business contacts not to return your calls and emails so readily.

    •           Don't be surprised if some of the hobbies you were planning don’t materialise just because you've got more time.

    •           Address physical and mental niggles; they might become more than niggles if you leave them.

  • 50 alternatives to working in a firm or chambers


    1. Law Centre Worker
    2. Company Solicitor
    3. Armed Forces Lawyer
    4. Legal Aid Official
    5. Probate Official
    6. Magistrate’s Clerk
    7. Crown Prosecutor
    8. Charity Lawyer
    9. Legal Publication Editor
    10. Legal Consultant
    11. Court of Appeal Researcher
    12. Legal Recruitment Consultant
    13. Professional Body/Regulator Official
    14. CAB Official
    15. Patent Agent
    16. Legal Secretary
    17. Government Legal Services
    18. Litigation Support Consultant
    19. Registrar
    20. Official Receiver
    21. Locum
    22. Legislative Annotator
    23. Lobbyist
    24. Tribunal Chairman
    25. Recorder
    26. Local Government Official
    27. Legal Reporter
    28. Law Lecturer
    29. In-House Lawyer
    30. Law Firm Manager/Trainer
    31. Marketing/PR Manager for a Legal Practice
    32. Professional Support Lawyer
    33. Court Official
    34. Online Legal Adviser
    35. Mediator
    36. Trade Mark Attorney
    37. Litigation Insurance Lawyer
    38. Law School Careers Adviser
    39. Arbitrator
    40. Owner of Locum Agency
    41. Charity Worker
    42. Researcher for Law Firm
    43. Employed Barrister
    44. Paralegal Instructor
    45. Licensed Conveyancer
    46. Regional Professional Body Official
    47. Compliance Officer
    48. Estate Agent
    49. Legal Bookshop Worker
    50. Court Reporter

If you are thinking about your career options and need some support, we can help. 

"You have been absolutely brilliant. I now feel I have a future."

Your Stories 

Real stories of people in the legal community who have experienced stress, depression, anxiety and more.

  • Rm Photo

    How I coped with anxiety

    "I felt really unwell – heart rate rising, breathing out of control, nausea, and an overwhelming desire to get out of the car."

    Read more
  • Pexels Darius Krause 2253938

    How I coped with stress

    "I collapsed in the office mid-deal, suffering from exhaustion."

    Read more
  • Pexels Cottonbro 4045539

    How I sorted out my sleep

    "I would wake up four or five times a night, brain racing with thoughts and often would manage only 2 or 3 hours sleep. I was exhausted."

    Read more
  • Istock 640180442 Super (1)

    My journey to an ADHD and autism diagnosis

    "As a woman, I, like many other autistic and ADHD women, learnt to mask my traits and so I went undiagnosed for 32 years."

    Read more

Sign up to receive our newsletter.