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August is Alternative Careers Month

Road less travelled

It won’t come as any surprise to you that not all law students end up as lawyers. What might surprise you is what they do instead. This month we’re looking at the (equally) fabulous law students and lawyers who became artists, foodies, writers, scuba instructors and more.

Young lawyers leaving the legal profession and law graduates skipping legal careers to work in other sectors have received a lot attention in recent years. In May The Age reported that 64% of law graduates were not working in the law four months after graduation. While some may have been undertaking practical legal training when the survey was taken, the report seems to support the oft-cited statistic that around half of all law grads do not become lawyers.

Sure, part of this phenomenon may be due to the fact that law enrollments in Australia continued to grow in recent years while the market for law grads has struggled to keep pace. But for a large number of law graduates the decision not to practice has nothing to do with a competitive graduate market and really comes down a desire to do something else with their career.

Law-grads choosing not to practice is not a new phenomenon. Charles Perrault ditched his legal career after only a few years to work as a bureaucrat. It was the 1600s and Perrault went on to write such classics as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood and Puss in Boots.

These days many see law less vocationally and view it as more of a generalist degree. And it’s no wonder. Studying law gives you skills in problem solving, critical analysis and communication – all of which are easily transferrable to different careers.

People choose to study law for different reasons, so it’s not surprising that they have differing ideas about what they want to do post-degree. If you’re keen to become a lawyer, you have plenty of choices: top-tier, mid-tier, boutique, suburban, solo and in-house practice are all options. And there are more avenues for specialisation than there are law electives at your uni. Maybe you’ll even go to the bar or end up sitting on the bench one day.

But if you’re the one in two law students who won’t end up practicing, the next few weeks are for you. Survive Law has dubbed this August ‘Alternative Careers Month’ and we’re going to spend it looking at law grads who took the road less travelled. Your brilliant career may be just around the corner…

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