What are the best law jobs? Is it in immigration, or real estate? Is it in corporate law?
If you ask lawyers about their jobs, you will find that the most fulfilled lawyers are “lawyers + [something else].” These are lawyers that do not mind reviewing and drafting legal work, but also enjoy other things like interacting with people (or blogging and managing a podcast). With the rapid pace of technological developments and clients increasingly expecting more from outside counsel, lawyers are expected to rise to unique challenges outside of the traditional scope of legal practice.
For those of you thinking about stepping outside the box, I offer the following suggestions:
Reach out to your network
Your contacts and community of attorneys are the best people to help you get to where you are trying to go. While this is no problem for a handful of social butterflies at the law firm (yeah…the one that “lawyers + [volunteers to organize the happy hours]”), most attorneys dread having to mix and mingle with strangers.
Take a breath. Most lawyers feel the same—and have the same desire to talk. Remember that you do not have to do it over a cocktail, and that there are other (more comfortable ways) to mingle. Offer to write guest blog posts, or volunteer at a few local bar association events to get started. Invite individuals out to lunch, and slowly, you’ll feel more comfortable reaching out to a community of friends.
Solicit feedback—but do not let it cage you from opportunities.
As you meet other attorneys or professionals and start to build a support structure, you will inevitably ask for their advice or input (they might even give it to you, unsolicited). Remember—advice is just advice (an insightful recommendation based on a set of facts). Just because someone shares their advice with you does not make it law. Filter what you want to follow and what you will store away for later, and use that feedback to carve out what you want to pursue.
Pursue your interests and strengths.
We are more willing to work hard and sacrifice for things that we genuinely enjoy pursuing—and we tend to enjoy pursuing things we are good at and have an interest in. Learn about different industries and learn how to speak a language other than “lawyer.” Your ability to navigate both legal circles and other professional circles will not only make you more interesting, it will also make you a better lawyer and more likely to land something truly unique.
As you pursue your interests, be flexible in your journey. Flexibility can open all sorts of doors you might not have known existed. Think about yourself as a “lawyer + [something else]” and be open to that “something else” being something unexpected.