Should I quit being a lawyer to become a counselor?
August 21, 2012 7:50 PM Subscribe
I'm a lawyer who's thinking about going back to school to get my masters in counseling to become a counselor. Is this a bad idea? What's it really like to be a counselor? Would I like it?
I graduated in the top ten percent of my class from a top 25 law school about five years ago. After law school I spent several years clerking for federal judges. Since then I got married and moved to a new state, where I passed the bar but am having an incredibly difficult time finding work as a lawyer. (Stupid crap economy.) Right now I’m an adjunct professor at a local law school and do a little bit of part time legal work for a law firm in the city I’m from, but I can’t find anything around here that’s full time. The thing is, though, that even in the legal work I’ve done, I’m not really that excited about it. I really enjoy(ed) the intellectual pursuit of law school, but I find the day-to-day work of being a lawyer boring and uninspiring.
All that to say, I’ve started reevaluating my options, and I’m considering going back to school to become a counselor. It’s something I thought about doing when I was an undergrad, but I decided to go to law school because I thought there would be more job security (ah, the irony). I think it’s something I would enjoy because I really enjoy listening to and helping others. Several people have told me that they think I would be good at it. I briefly saw a counselor myself several years ago, so I sort of know what it’s like from the patient side of things, and from my experience I think I would like it, getting to work with people and help them gain new insights to experience a more fulfilling life.
But I’m reluctant to go back to grad school if I’m not sure I would really love what I would be doing. So I guess my questions are:
(1) Did you make (or do you know of anyone who made) a major career change like that of a lawyer to a counselor? How did it work out? Do employers find it strange?
(2) What is it actually like to be a counselor? What’s the day-to-day of the job like?
(3) If I do pursue this, how do I choose the school I go to? (We’re pretty much stuck in the LA area because of my husband’s job, but there are quite a few schools around.) Do I decide based on school rankings? Cost? The individual program? What’s important in a school?
(4) Is there a way to get a masters without getting into (much) debt? (I don’t have any debt from law school, thankfully, but my husband has some school debt and I’d prefer to avoid taking on much more if possible.)
Bonus question: My husband and I are planning to start a family in the next year or so, so I’d (hopefully) be pregnant and then have a very small child while completing the program. Is that incredibly stupid of me to even consider? Will having those outside commitments be prohibitive in pursuing a career like counseling?
Bonus bonus question: Are there any other similar careers that I could/should consider?
Thanks so much for any help/advice/wisdom you can provide! If you need any more information, I can contact the mods, or you can email me at email@example.com.