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At a crossroads: choosing an alternative career

At a crossroads: choosing an alternative career

By Kim Koelmeyeris

Workplace Young Lawyers 

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In 2020, I decided to enter a career path outside of the law, opting for a communications graduate role with the Victorian government. This was not a decision I made lightly. In the echo chamber of law school, it is often forgotten that law graduates have a wide array of career options available to them.

If you find yourself at a similar crossroads, here are a few questions that guided my decision making and opened my mind to deviating from a more traditional legal career.

  • What are your goals?

You may find your goals are not tied to practising as a lawyer. I am a purpose-driven person, who studied law to tell stories and help make the world a better place. Throughout my degree, I was fortunate enough to have many opportunities (legal and non-legal) to bring this mantra to life. When my current role presented itself as a new and different opportunity, I realised it ticked all my career boxes and much more.

When making career decisions, try to detach yourself from a position or title and focus on your mission, purpose and values.

  • Where do you spend your free time?

A key factor in making my decision was where I dedicated my time. During university, I held a number of positions where I would write, interview and deliver online content about the law. I soon realised these were the skills I enjoyed the most and would stay up at night thinking about.

I certainly felt a pressure to pursue legal practice, because it’s what made sense as the natural progression from law school. However, I couldn’t deny that, first and foremost, I am a writer.

Listen to yourself – you and your career are better off following your passions, as this will hopefully feel more rewarding overall.

  • Have I wasted my law degree?

This question was the main thought that made me pause before jumping into my current role. Had I just spent six years in a double degree to have it count for nothing? Absolutely not.

A legal education provided me with the analytical skills and drive that got me to where I am and will continue to help me as I navigate my career. Communications is essentially risk management, which demands the calculated mindset fostered in law school.

I also have not left the law. My volunteer roles and passion projects allow me to take learnings from my job and use them to increase the efficacy and diversity of the legal system. The law continues to fascinate me and now I get to experience it from an alternate lens.

  • Where to start?

If you have an inkling to explore an alternate path, you owe it to yourself to consider it.

Find volunteer positions that develop skills you’re interested in, such as with your Law Students’ Society, a Law Institute of Victoria committee or elsewhere. Even if you can’t find opportunities that quite fit what you’re aiming for, you can always try to create your own.

Seek out people with a similar path and ask for their advice. Chances are they went through a similar dilemma you are in now. I spoke to lawyers, communications professionals and everyone in between, and it was incredibly valuable to see whose opinions and journeys I resonated with.

Ultimately, whatever you decide to do, make sure it’s in service of your purpose and values, rather than any expectations of what you should be doing.

Kim Koelmeyeris a Journalism/Law graduate working in communications with the Level Crossing Removal Project. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Law in Colour.

 


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