Professionals in the legal industry today have more career options open to them than ever before. The legal market has modernised and broadened, offering lawyers a variety of options beyond private practice.
Alongside its partner Lawyer Monthly, Simply Law Jobs hears from Jared Glazier, Head of Recruitment at Augusta Ventures, a top legal funding firm, on five alternative legal career options to consider.
For business savvy lawyers seeking a commercial role, balancing technical legal elements with business thinking and solution-based projects within an exciting growth industry. A move into Third-Party Funding, otherwise known as Litigation Funding, offers lawyers the chance to make the in-house legal move but retain front-of-house negotiation and drafting skills while developing both financial and commercial acumen.
The Portfolio Career
The portfolio career has become both acceptable and accessible within the legal industry in recent years. This is mainly due to changing market perceptions, with players like Axiom and LOD, and law firms own services such as Agile, Peerpoint and Vario to name a few, becoming prominent interim solutions for significant firms and in-house legal teams. The change in how legal services are offered has meant that lawyers can work flexibly and take on multiple projects, while in some circumstances balancing homelife.
An alternative career option for lawyers not seeking partnership within private practice. It’s commonly an off-track position that involves providing technical legal expertise in a particular specialism, as a support function to client-facing fee-earners. In recent years though, knowledge lawyer positions have become increasingly client-facing, with law firms using knowledge management as a tool to differentiate through intelligence on changes in the law, or detailed analytics surrounding case or deal outcomes.
CxO / Corporate Executive
A positive senior move for lawyers with an interest in business management and leadership. Moving into a corporate executive role other than General Counsel is an increasingly common path for lawyers seeking to apply operational skills. Management and lawyers historically have not gone hand in hand due to the structure of law firms, however, for the most entrepreneurial of lawyers, moving into a COO or CEO leadership position can be rewarding for both the employer and employee. The benefits of having a lawyer in a CxO position are that they have a strong understanding of the required regulatory structure, an understanding of business contracts, and typically have fully developed negotiation skills.
The traditional move mainly due to the promise of a better work-life balance, enhanced corporate benefits, and modern HR policies. An in-house move is common for experienced lawyers with the desire to take on the track towards a Head of Legal or General Counsel position. The perception of the entry-level Legal Counsel position is that it is equivalent to a business operational 9-5 role; however, the working hours and the pressure often differ between companies due to size, sector and expertise, and ultimately the size of the legal spend available. The exit options from an in-house legal team back into private practice has improved in recent years, with a return to private practice becoming accepted and welcomed by firms, especially in highly technical areas such as regulatory and niche structured finance areas.
Private practice lawyers often work in stressful environments filled with both partner and client-facing pressures adding to billable hour demands. Lawyers out there in the legal market are increasingly pushing changes to this traditional sector and are using the variety of openings across the market to find flexible, agile and fulfilling positions across the full range of different legal services businesses.
Legal disrupters pushing smart contracts, alternative practising methods, and artificial intelligence will no doubt make this list within a short space of time.