Finals are almost over, and you are one semester closer to graduation! Definitely take some time to relax and enjoy yourself after all of the hard work that you put into this past semester. You deserve it! But also make the most of your downtime by dedicating some time to career planning. The holidays are a great time for networking. Use your time away from the classroom to get out and meet people in the legal community or in the industry where you plan to pursue an alternative career. Florida Coastal alumni association events are a great way to meet people with whom you already have something in common. The Florida Coastal alumni association chapters in Washington DC, Pensacola, South Carolina, and Atlanta are all hosting holiday events over the break. If you are interested in working in any of those markets, don’t miss out on the opportunity to establish connections with Coastal alumni who could be valuable resources for you throughout your career. Click here for a listing of alumni association chapters and links to their Facebook group pages. If your city does not have an alumni association event over the break, look for events through the local bar association or other professional associations. In addition to holiday networking events, you can use your time in your target market to reach out to professionals for informational meetings. An informational meeting is an opportunity to get information and advice about a specific practice area or an alternative career. It is also a way to build a relationship with someone who is working in an area that interests you, and you never know where it might lead. Check out the Career Handbook for a step-by-step guide to informational meetings. If you don’t have a copy, stop by the CSD and pick one up before you leave for the break. Stay tuned for part two of making the most of your winter break, where I’ll discuss ways to incorporate social networking into your job search.
Save the date! On Tuesday, October 2nd, the Career Services Department is hosting an Alternative Careers Panel from 12pm to 1:15pm in Room 550. If you are interested in learning about alternative legal careers, you don’t want to miss this opportunity to explore alternative career options and learn how to position yourself for an alternative career. Our esteemed panel of professionals all hold JD degrees and have pursued careers outside the traditional practice of law.
The panel will include:
- Kiel Gross – Shands Jacksonville, Business Manager, Clinical & Ancillary Services
- Tiffany Holbrook – BB&T Wealth Management, VP, Personal Trust Specialist
- Millie Kanyar – Watson Realty, Florida Real Estate Broker
- C.J. Pipins – Florida Coastal School of Law, Law Librarian
- Tara J. Showalter, CFP, CRPC – Waddell & Reed, Inc., Managing Principal
- Thomas C. Wigand – JEA, Labor Relations Coordinator
Lunch will be provided. R.S.V.P. today on Symplicity.
Welcome back students! Now that your first week of classes is behind you and you are settling into the Fall semester, it’s never too early to start thinking about your career options. Everyone will follow a unique career path, and if you are one of the many law students who are curious about alternatives to the traditional practice of law, the Document Library in Symplicity is a great place to start. You will find a comprehensive listing of resources to get you started as well as videos of past Alternative Careers panel presentations at Florida Coastal. And if you find yourself overwhelmed by the possibilities (because they really are endless), make an appointment with a CSD counselor to develop customized goals and strategies for your career development. There are lawyers working in almost every industry imaginable. Just think, both of the current Presidential candidates are lawyers, so if you are considering an alternative career, you’re certainly in good company!
Continue to follow the Alternative Careers Blog to stay up to date on the latest information and events. I will spotlight alternative careers for JDs, profile Coastal alumni who are pursuing alternative careers, and keep you posted on upcoming educational and networking events relating to alternative careers. I will leave you today with the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
Are you interested in pursuing an alternative legal career, but not sure where to start? Trying to navigate through all of the available resources can leave you more confused than you were when you started. There are a number of valuable resources available to assist lawyers and law students who are looking for an alternative to the traditional practice of law, but before you dive into the online abyss, consider starting with a self-assessment, which will provide you with a better understanding of your individual aptitudes and interests. Then schedule an appointment with a career services counselor who can assist you with creating a strategic job search plan based on the results of your self-assessment. Check out the Riley Guide for a listing of career self-assessment tools, and send me feedback on your experience using the various self-assessments offered online. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, the CSD is open all summer, and we look forward to working with you!
A Contact Specialist for the government develops and awards a full range of contacts for goods and services used by the government. Duties of a contract specialist may include:
- Plan solicitations for supplies and services and analyze contract proposals.
- Negotiate and evaluate contact terms.
- Award contracts and perform detailed administrative functions.
- Ensure compliance with contract terms and conditions during term of contract.
- Terminate contracts when necessary and perform contract closeouts.
- Formulate contracting strategies and advise on contracting actions.
- Meet with employees at all levels on all types of procurement issues and concerns.
- Maintain up-to-date knowledge of clients’ procurement requirements and serve as subject matter expert on the clients’ professional fields.
Policy analysts research, evaluate, and shape policy. Policy analysts can be involved in developing new policy or in analyzing existing policy, and their role will usually be determined by the type of organization for which they work. Policy analysts can work in a variety of settings including government offices, nonprofit organizations, think tanks, and corporations.
Key skills that a policy analyst should possess include an analytical mind, an ability to think creatively, attention to detail, excellent oral and written communication skills, and an ability to understand and analyze statistical information.
Most policy analysts have a graduate degree such as a masters degree, J.D. or Ph.D. Policy analysts will usually start out by specializing in a particular field to develop an expertise in that area. Because most employers seek policy analysts with particular specializations, it is very important to gain experience in this field prior to graduation. Experience can be gained while in school through internships, working with professors, and joining public policy clinics.
Check out these resources for additional information on a career as a policy analyst:
- Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management: www.appam.org
- Public policy jobs and internships: publicservicecareers.org; opajobs.com (obtain login information from Career Services); usajobs.gov; makingthedifference.org.
- List of Policy Organizations: http://www.c-span.org/Resources/Policy-Organizations/
Many people look for an alternative legal career because they are trying to raise children, deal with an illness, take care of elderly parents, or just to pursue other interests. If this sounds like you, check out Staying at Home, Staying in the Law by Julie Tower-Pierce. This book discusses part-time and alternative careers that you can do from home, including freelance writing, telework, and compressed workweek options. Come by the CSD library and check this book out!
A mediator is a neutral individual who facilitates the resolution of a legal issue between parties. A mediator is not a judge or an arbitrator and does not decide which party is “right.” Rather, a mediator assists parties in arriving at a compromise to find a win-win resolution to their disagreement.
Mediators can work in a variety of settings including community mediation centers, court-appointed programs, government programs, or a private office. Mediators can specialize in a practice area (such a family law or mortgage foreclosures), or mediators can have a more general practice (such as commercial litigation).
If you are interested in a career in mediation, these are some helpful websites to visit: National Association for Community Mediators (www.nafcm.org); National Center for State Courts (www.ncsoline.org); Florida State Courts Alternative Dispute Resolution (http://www.flcourts.org/gen_public/adr/index.shtml).
The Occupational Outlook Handbook (“OOH”) is a fabulous resource for exploring career options. Along with presenting detailed information on employment projections for hundreds of careers, the OOH provides summaries of the career field, work environment, training and qualifications, average salaries, related occupations, and professional organizations. Ever thought about writing or editing? Go to the OOH first to find out the latest trends in fields employing writers. Just starting your career search and wondering what areas have the best prospects for job growth? Go to the OOH Overview to discover that the number of compliance officer jobs is expected to increase and the employment services industry is expected to have large growth, but that you should stay away from jobs in textile production. To check it out click here.
Deciding what kind of alternative legal career is right for you depends on a lot factors. One of the biggest factors is your background – your undergraduate degree, any other graduate level degrees, and prior work experience. It also depends on your interests, your goals, and your network of connections.
Further, what you can do with your JD can be thought of as a continuum – on one end, those jobs that are very closely related to being an attorney (think paralegal) and on the other end, those jobs where having a law degree helps develop your skills but is not required (think real estate developer).
So what are some job examples along that continuum?
Closely related careers
- Contract administrator
- Law school librarian
- Insurance claims examiner
- Compliance officer
- Dispute resolution professional
- Clerk of court
- Undergraduate legal studies instructor
- Grant writer
- ADA coordinator
- Director of law firm marketing
- Law enforcement officer
- Market research analyst
- Financial planner
- Real estate agent
Indirectly related careers
These are just a very few examples of what you can do! Since everyone is unique, it is a good idea to meet with a career counselor to find a field or area of alternative legal careers that is right for you.