The different opportunities for lawyers: here’s what you’re not seeing

There is a popular belief in Australia that there aren’t enough jobs in the legal profession. And from one point of view, this is true. The reality is that there are more graduates coming through the law university system than there are new roles being created. However, the situation isn’t at all doom and gloom. There are plenty of opportunities for lawyers who are willing to look slightly further afield. In this article, we’re going to be talking about exactly what we mean by that.

Career opportunities for lawyers, outside of law

One of the biggest problems with law graduates today is that they have tunnel vision. They believe that the only viable option open to them is a career as a lawyer. To them, there is one end goal and to pursue anything else would mean failure. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, there is a world of opportunities after law school.

Your law degree doesn’t provide you with tailored skills for the legal industry alone. What you learn during your degree is a set of transferable qualities that are invaluable for employers in a host of different industries. Sure, you learn a ton of technical stuff, but you also learn how to learn. You learn how to approach a problem and how to come to a solution. This alone makes you desirable in other industries and professions.

From a commercial perspective, what you learn in law school is a valuable skill-set that most other graduates aren’t privy to. Your understanding of the law and the legal process is a quality that’s applicable across roles in practically every industry. And while these skill-sets are super useful, they become particularly powerful when supplemented by other qualities and experience too.

Diversify Your Experience

It’s important to think about what else you could add to your skill set that would make you as employable as possible. Gaining skills in the technology and business sectors can be particularly beneficial. These industries are ripe with opportunities for law graduates, so supplementary skills are a big bonus. There are plenty of cross-over opportunities too, for example, in the legal tech or legal start-up space.

Also, don’t just think in terms of skills and qualifications outside of the law. Think about experience too. How can you leverage a part-time job to gain insight into a different industry while you are studying? This can be a great way of gaining an understanding of non-legal industries and work out what you're interested in before you've even started your career.

Shifting Your Way of Thinking

This involves showing law graduates the diversity of opportunities for lawyers that exist. The problem is that many graduates aren’t aware of this diversity, to begin with. And while you could say that this is the responsibility of universities, ultimately the onus is on you to be aware of all the options open to you.

It’s also something businesses should become more aware of. From an employer’s point of view, law students are a rich source of value for the reasons we’ve already mentioned above.

At Beyond Billables, part of our mission is to help emerging talents with legal qualifications tap into different resources and networks in order to expand their opportunities. This comes down to helping people realise that they have options and what those options are. It’s about encouraging people to figure out what they love doing and helping them to find something that fits with those values.

The Key to Happiness

We recently wrote an article about the dangers of ignoring your happiness in your legal career and not chasing avenues that align with your core values. And understanding the diverse opportunities in your working life as a law graduate can be helpful when finding fulfilment in your job.

If you look at the happiest people working in and around the legal industry, they’re often those who have flexibility in their options and an eclectic background in their experience. The reasoning behind this is pretty straightforward: The more opportunities and options you explore, the more likely you are to know what really makes you tick and, ultimately, pursue those goals.

Next Steps

In truth, you’re not going to know if a career path is for you until you’ve experienced it first-hand. But this doesn’t mean that you’re stuck in a job that you only realised isn’t fulfilling for you once you’ve started it. Remember, you have many transferable skill-sets as a law graduate. It’s never too early or too late to switch paths. All it takes is to have the self-awareness to recognise when you’re unhappy in your work.

Try to gain as much diverse experience as you possibly can. Don’t simply look to the job in the legal profession; search beyond that. Experience isn’t just about your work, it’s also about the circles you’re in and the networks you build. Having an eclectic group of friends and associates means that you’re never too far away from a surprise opportunity that could take you down your dream career path.

Also, don’t neglect your passions and interests. Just because they might not seem like they’re having a direct influence on your future career options, doesn’t mean that you’re not learning new skill sets and improving upon existing ones. And you never know when that type of knowledge might come in handy when looking to make a career leap or change.

The most important thing is to be aware of the opportunities available to you. Opportunities in and around the legal industry, and also totally separate from it! This doesn’t necessarily mean that you can jump into any job you want immediately. Finding the perfect fit for your values and experience can take time, so you need to be patient. However, by being aware of what your values are, keeping your mind open to the possibility of change, and involving yourself in as much variety as possible will stand you in good stead when it comes to making the right decisions in your working life.

Feeling a little bit stuck?

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