A reader writes:
I am a disgruntled attorney and have been practicing a little over 5 years. I recently attended a CLE that was attended by a healthy mix of lawyers and HR managers and was kind of fascinated by HR. Granted, this was a very delicious HR topic - Workplace Investigations - but I talked to a few HR folks who really enjoyed what they did. I found that a lot of the things that they enjoyed about their jobs sounded similar to those limited things that I enjoy about mine. The things that I hate about mine are billing hours, marketing services to potential clients, and having meaningful interaction with people are not really qualities directly associated with HR. I do know that I love people - the good, bad and the ugly. As a lawyer, I feel so cut off from human contact that I can't breathe.
I don't even know if it's possible for me to make this type of transition. I am not an employment attorney. I have looked at the job openings for HR and see that I am completely over and under qualified. I just have no idea how to get my foot in the door in this profession. Should I get more education? Most of the programs in my area are not part-time, and financially it would be tough for me to do anything other than that.
Any ideas would be greatly appreciated! If you know any lawyers that have made this type of transition, unlikely I know, even better. If you know of anyone else who might be willing to have an email or phone informational interview with me, I'd be grateful. Thanks for any information.
For me this is an easy one. You are an attorney, you have critical thinking and problem solving skills and an understanding of the law and the legal system. Organizations have employee and labor relations departments where the law abounds. This would not be a difficult transition for you. In my world, the way into the organization would be through an HR Internship and you would be a strong candidate.
Let me ask you a question though. Are you looking for a way into HR or a way out of the situation you are in. We HR types are pretty darn cool and I can see why you'd be drawn to us (!) but stop and take a look at where you are now and what you do not like. Is it the pressure of the Top-10 firm you are in; the cases you are working on; or the clients you are working with? Have you considered practicing in a different venue, in support of an organization or set of clients with different values?
You clearly are not happy where you are and HR may be the area for you. It definitely is worth taking a look at. I hired an HR Intern a few years ago who was a lawyer, newly graduated and looking for HR. I asked him the top question on my mind, "why HR?" His answer, he went to law skill for the skills and experiences and fully intended to use them outside of a law practice. He was very successful in the federal career intern program.
Readers, what advice can you offer? If you are interested in speaking, e-mailing, or contacting Ms. Attorney or know of anyone else who made a similar transition that may be interested in speaking with her, comment away, e-mail or DM me on Twitter.