Alternative Legal Careers

Last updated by Michael Umberger
February 2014

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Books and Guides

Arron, Deborah L., Running From the Law: Why Good Lawyers are Getting out of the Legal Profession, Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 2004.
Collection of interviews with respected ex-practicing attorneys who gave up promising legal careers. The appendices contain career planning tips, finding support and recommended resources. See the footnotes section for a good bibliography. Recommended for those considering non-traditional legal careers.
Career Services KF297 .A87

Arron, Deborah L., What Can You Do With a Law Degree? A Lawyer's Guide to Career Alternatives Inside, Outside, and Around the Law, 5th ed., Seattle: Niche Press, 2004.
Contains information on career evaluation and planning as well as job search strategies. The extensive resource sections, particularity those for the chapter "job options for lawyers," are extremely valuable.
Career Services KF297 .Z9A772

DeBroff, Stacy. Serving the Public: A Job Search Guide - Harvard Law School's Handbook and Director for Law Students and Lawyers Seeking Public Service Work, Cambridge, MA: Harvard Law School, 2003 - .

Furi-Perry, Ursula. Fifty Unique Legal Paths, Chicago: American Bar Association, 2008. 

 Morrison, Alan B. and Diane T. Chin. Beyond the Big Firm: Profiles of Lawyers Who Want Something More, New York: Aspen, 2007.

 Munneke, Gary A. and William D. Henslee. Nonlegal Careers for Lawyers, 5th ed. Chicago: American Bar Association, 2006.
Discusses the considerations involved in pursuing a non-legal career. Details numerous career possibilities as well as associations and organizations which hire individuals with legal education. Contains a good list of resources.

Parker, Monica. Unhappy Lawyer: A Roadmap to Finding Meaningful Work Outside of the Law, Naperville, Ill: Sourcebooks, 2008.

Schneider, Deborah, and Gary Belsky. Should You Really Be a Lawyer: The Guide to Smart Career Choices Before, During, and After Law School, Seattle: DecisionBooks, 2010.


Selected Periodical Articles

Alternative Careers, 25 Probate and Practice 8 (Mar. 2011). 

Bridget Bosworth, Alternative Careers in Legal Publishing, 33 Student Lawyer 24 (Dec. 2004).

Tracy Carbasho, Seminar Presents Information About Alternative, Non-Traditional Career Options for Attorneys, 12 Lawyers Journal 3 (May 2010) (available in WestlawNext). 

Carla J. DeVelder, Alternative Careers for JDs: How to Get There from Here, 38 Student Lawyer 5 (Nov. 2009). 

Gerson, Donna, A Non-Legal Career With a Law Degree Takes Imagination But Can Make Sense, 31 Student Lawyer, (Dec. 2002).

Gerson, Donna. Wondering About Nonlegal Careers? Use the Resources Available to You, 33 Student Lawyer 5 (April 2005).

Hindi Greenberg. So What Else Can You Do With Your Law Degree?, 22 GP Solo 42 (July-Aug. 2005).

Hillary Mantis, Hot Alternative Legal Careers for 2014, The National Jurist (April 15, 2014). 

Steven A. Meyerowitz, , Alternative Careers: Ten Ways to Make A Good Living with A Law Degree That You Might Not Have Thought About, 27 Pennsylvania Lawyer 14, (Jan./Feb. 2005).

Gary A. Munneke, What You Can Do with a Law Degree (Besides Practice Law), 40 Student Lawyer 24 (Jan. 2012). 

Joan Indiana Rigdon.Leaving the Law: Stories of Lawyers Who Decided to Embark on New Careers, 20 Washington Lawyer 20 (Sept. 2005).

Hope Viner Samborn, Left-Click, Left Law: Online Advice for Career-Changers Abounds if you Know Where To Find It, How to Use It, 92 ABA Journal 58 (July 2006).

Sara Shik, Oh, the Places Your Juris Doctor Will Go, 74 Journal of the Kansas Bar Association 9, (Feb. 2005) (available in WestlawNext).

Rebecca Stonawksi, In Addition to the Law Degree, 21 Education and Law Journal 267 (Oct. 2012) (available in Westlaw).

Various, Alternative Career Paths, 83 Michigan Bar Journal (Mar. 2004). 


American Bar Association
321 North Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60654
Tel: (312) 988-5000 or Toll Free: (800) 285-2221
ABA Career Resource Center

National Association For Law Placement
1025 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 1110
Washington, DC 20036-5413
Tel: (202) 835-1001
Fax: (202) 835-1112

Virginia Bar Association
701 E. Franklin St., Suite 1120
Richmond, VA 23219
Tel: (804) 644-0041
Fax: (804) 644-0052

Virginia State Bar
Eighth & Main Bldg.
707 E. Main St., Ste. 1500
Richmond, VA 23219-2800
Tel: (804) 775-0500
Fax: (804) 775-0501

Many state bar associations have special interest sections and young lawyer sections, and some have a student membership category. Most have web sites, so check the Internet for your state bar's web address.

Additional associations providing career opportunities and/or information are listed under the appropriate subject heading in the "Career Sources by Topic" section below.

Career Sources by Topic

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Barrett, Jerome, A History of Alternative Dispute Resolution: The Story of a Political, Cultural, and Social Movement, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2004.
STACKS KF9084 .B37

American Arbitration Association
1633 Broadway, 10th Floor
New York, NY 10019
Tel: (212) 716-5800
Fax: (212) 716-5905

American Bar Association
Section of Dispute Resolution

740 15th St., NW
Washington, DC 20005
Tel: (202) 662-1680
Fax: (202) 662-1683


El Kouri, Zahie, Vault Guide to Corporate Law Careers, New York: Vault, Inc., 2003.

Nayler, Peter,Business Law in the Global Marketplace, Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2005.
HD2755.5 N39 2005

200 Graves Street
Charlottesville, VA 22902
Tel: (800) 315-9777
Fax: (434) 985-2331
Lists "current jobs in environmental policy, communications & advocacy, conservation, engineering, research & education in non-profits, corporations, and the government."

Higher Education

Breaking Into the Academy: The 2000-2002 Michigan Journal of Race & Law Guide for Aspiring Law Professors, Chin, Gabriel J. & Denise C. Morgan, eds. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Law School, 2000.
This guide, which offers advice for “Law Professor Wannabes,” to quote one of the articles, is thorough and well-prepared, featuring articles that walk the aspiring academic through the application process, step-by-step, including advice on writing and publishing scholarship before entering academia. The guide features extensive lists of universities featuring Law Teaching Fellowship Programs, Graduate Degree Programs, and Legal Methods Teaching Programs. This guide is updated biannually.
Career Services KF272 .B74 2000

Goldberg, Stephanie, It's Academic: What Does It Take to Become a Law Professor? The Competition is Intense, but Most Say the Effort is Well Worth It, 31 Student Lawyer 16  (April 2003).

Association of American Law Schools
1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Ste. 800
Washington, DC 20036-2717
Tel: (202) 296-8851
Fax: (202) 296-8869

Judiciary/Court Administration

Federal Judicial Center
Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building
One Columbus Circle, N.E.
Washington, DC 20002-8003
Tel: (202) 502-4000
Fax: (202) 502-4099

National Center for State Courts
300 Newport Avenue
Williamsburg, VA 23185-4147
Tel: (800) 616-6164

Law Librarianship

“alt.lawlibrarian”: New Career Paths for Law Librarians, 93 Law Library Journal 375 (2001).

Care and Maintenance of the Successful Career: How Experienced Law Librarians Make Their Work Rewarding, 93 Law Library Journal 540 (2001).

Greenfield, Elizabeth, Looking for Law in All the Right Places: Lawyers who Become Librarians are Happy to Make the Transition, 9 AALL Spectrum 8 (Dec. 2004).

Whisner, Mary, Update to Choosing Law Librarianship: Thoughts for People Contemplating a Career Move, April 4, 2008.

Why We Do What We Do; Perspectives in Law Librarianship: From Shifting Careers to Serving Law Firm Constituencies, 7 AALL Spectrum 12 (Nov. 2002).

American Association of Law Libraries
105 W. Adams St., Suite 3300
Chicago, IL 60603-6225
Phone: (312) 939-4764
Fax:(312) 431-1097


The Ethics of Lobbying: Organized Interests, Political Power, and the Common Good, Washington: Georgetown University Press, 2002.
STACKS JK1118 .E85

Guide to Interest Groups and Lobbying in the United States, Washington: CQ Press, 2012.

Other organizations may be found using:
Encyclopedia of Associations.  Detroit, MI: Gale Research Co., 1961-
Covers more than 100,000 nonprofit membership associations worldwide. 
Available on Lexis Advance.

Photo Credit: duncan, under CC BY-NC