Angie Robertson graduated from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in 2010. She has experience with public interest law, family law, legal document review and sales. When she is not reading or writing about law, she enjoys live music, exploring Chicago, watching roller-derby, and spending time with her husband and her dog.
It’s Halloween season and almost one year after I was sworn into the Illinois Bar. While this is by far my favorite holiday, it can be a sad reminder of the fact that I have yet to find permanent, legal employment. Like most law graduates, I am goal-oriented, a planner, someone who likes a roadmap for where my career is going. Doing contract legal work while waiting for the economy to improve without really knowing where my career is going is a constant struggle. I often wonder about my career goals, “Do I Believe in Love after Love?” In other words, is there another dream career out there for me and am I ready to move on?
Underemployed recent grads who are looking for work are constantly told to keep a good attitude and not “give up.” But those of us who read employment statistics and can do basic math know that we won’t all find permanent, legal jobs, at least not in the near future. We can’t all make a living prosecuting and defending “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves.” To the extent that is true, doesn’t it make a lot of sense for many of us to cut to the chase, and explore other careers options?
We are frequently told in law school that many lawyers never practice law and find great careers in other industries. How each one of them found their way is usually a complex story of luck, hardship and perseverance. There is no cookie-cutter career path for lawyers not practicing law.
Making the decision to seek non-legal work can be emotional. Some will interpret the choice to look for a non-legal job as admitting defeat. For those working outside the law, it may become difficult to relate to friends who are practicing law in varying capacities. Non-practicing lawyers will constantly have to explain themselves to those who are surprised that someone so “smart” has “settled” on another career. In the past, you may have been the one appalled that another person went to law school and decided not to practice, after all that studying and all those loans. You never thought it would happen to you, and now the tables have turned. You may ask, “Am I Strong Enough to live without professionally practicing law?”
If I could “Turn Back Time,” I probably wouldn’t have given up my career for law school. But, alas, I can’t do that, and neither can any of us. I’m undecided about whether it is time to more aggressively seek an alternative career. I’ve been lucky with finding fairly stable temporary work. It has allowed me to take advantage of the ability to leave work at work and enjoy my weekends and evenings to the fullest extent possible. When I get frustrated with my career search, I often turn to my husband and say, “I’ve Got You, Babe.” If you haven’t guessed, I have a pretty good idea of what I will be for Halloween this year.