Actually, most of us aren't in court rooms and nearly half of us don't even practice. I did for a short time, and I was in a court room nearly every day. While that was exhilarating and I liked the mental exercise of litigation, it was creatively stifling and felt like the wrong fit for me.
After my short stint as a practicing attorney, I went back to the non-profit sector, where I had come from, and stayed there for six years. It was great, but demanding on time at the executive level, being heavy on evening and weekend events, which became hard to manage after having children. My husband was in the non-profit sector for those same six years, so the evening and weekend duties were doubled...
After some research, I discovered the secret world of freelance commercial writing and I've been on a satisfying thrill-ride, ever since! However, there is always the question of why an attorney is not practicing and a raised eyebrow directed at one claiming to want to do something else. Well, the fact is, lawyers are good at a lot of things because of our general, yet advanced, training - similar to an MBA - and we're damn great at research and writing.
When we (lawyers) successfully navigate law school we are changed forever! We no longer see the world in three dimensions – becoming an attorney is a life altering experience and it leaves us with a view to the fourth dimension. We learn another language - many English words take on a dual meaning, and of course, we pick-up a good amount of Latin…hence, legalese… We are extremely efficient with our time (ever heard of a time thief?). We are detail oriented and catch things that others miss.
As attorneys, we have been rewired (similar to having joined the military) to be research & writing machines. It does not matter if we are experts on a topic or have never heard of it before, because we have the IQ to figure it out. Through research we are able to become experts and then communicate the essence of the topic, problem, product, service, etc., simply and persuasively (= effective!).
Lawyer-writers are perfect for White Papers as they are very similar to legal briefs, and for Medical/Healthcare company projects – think personal injury law. Have a high-tech product you are selling to another company? Think lawyer-writer. We have to be good at taking complexities and simplifying them for our clients and other attorneys and we can convey the same high-impact, yet simplified message business-to-business.
To successfully navigate law school and then the bar exam we must be able to meet strict deadlines while juggling multiple projects and know that there is likely one chance to get it right.
Many of the lawyers I know, including myself, are extremely creative and play as hard as we work (that’s playing with my kids, now…). So, if you come across a lawyer who wants to write copy for your next content marketing piece - you might have just struck gold.
And I'll leave you with one fun fact: If someone has J.D. after their name they graduated law school - Juris Doctor, and if they have Esq., they have passed one or more state bar exams and they are licensed to practice law.
Have you hired a lawyer for a non-lawyer job? Tell me about it in the comments section.