Shauna C. Bryce, Esq. talking about career options outside BigLaw as a panelist at University of Pennsylvania School of Law’s “Carpe JDiem: Leveraging Legal Skills in Alternative Careers,” moderated by Vivia Chen of ALM’s The Careerist. Photo courtesy of PennLaw APALSA.

Leaving the law is a big decision.

It’s a notion that many practicing lawyers flirt with at some point during their careers, but it’s not a decision to be made rashly or while depressed. Leaving the practice of law should be more than an “I hate my job” decision.

Ideally, you could simply walk out the door and start a new dream career. More realistically, however, leaving the law involves a well-considered mid-range (or long-range!) plan to find and land more fulfilling work, while protecting your career options and meeting your financial needs…

  • A mid-level associate in BigLaw is miserable working 80-hour weeks performing due diligence for corporate transactions. She dreams of opening a classic American diner. But she has $175,000 in student debt and she knows restaurants have a high failure rate. How can she explore long-term ways of making her dream a reality?
  • An experienced lawyer has practiced for 15 years and recently taken family leave. He’s never felt personal satisfaction with the law; it’s always been “just a job.” But the practice of law is all he’s ever known and he’s the sole breadwinner for his spouse and three children. Is now a good time to make a permanent break? What  could he do instead? How do his lawyering skills apply to other roles?
  • A lawyer cries on a street corner. He hates his job so much that he is ready to walk back in and quit. But is that a smart decision, financially or career-wise? How can he build an escape plan that gives him hope and increases his likelihood of a successful break from law?*

*Samples are composites designed to protect the identities of individual attorneys.

Unlike some other professions, it’s not necessarily easy to return to law should you change your mind or discover that following your dream to be a lawyer wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. There are many factors to consider before leaving:

  • Would moving to a different workplace environment help?
  • Would changing practice areas, geography, or making some other change help?
  • Can you afford the likely pay cut you’d take by leaving the practice of law?
  • Can you easily return to the practice of law if you change your mind?
  • What will you do instead? Do you have the skills and connections to be successful at that alternative career?

Here on Bryce Legal, you’ll find a lot of practical information about what’s happening in the legal sector — including trends in hiring, law firm management, legal technology, alternative service providers, and the delivery of legal services — that may help you decide whether it’s the right time for you to leave the law. But you may want more assistance.

Resume Writing and Career Coaching for Lawyers Leaving the Law

If you’re considering leaving the law, then it helps to have a professional coach who works with recovering lawyers to help you think through the process so that you can be sure leaving is right for you, and decide on different career paths that might be a better fit.

Together, you can build a transitional bridge to increase the likelihood of a successful move from the law to an alternative career.

You’ll also need a new resume that supports your new career goal, rather than keeping you locked on the same old trajectory. Employers need to see that you have potential and skills that transfer outside the field of law.

Although Shauna C. Bryce continues to present to groups on options outside the law, she works one-on-one with lawyers who want to continue in the practice law (or in law-related positions). For lawyers looking to leave the law, she has developed a network of professional resume writers and career coaches to help lawyers think through the implications of leaving the practice of law, and then making the leap.

These referral partners are experienced resume writers and career coaches — often escaped lawyers themselves — who can help bring out your transferrable skills in your new resume and other career portfolio documents.

DIY Resume and Career Resources for Lawyers Leaving the Law



What are your transferrable skills? How do they apply to roles outside the law?

Jared Redick’s do-it-yourself Job Description Analysis helps people from all walks of life evaluate and set realistic next steps in their careers — mapping the intersection between where they’ve been and where they want to go.