Career Change: Extreme Makeover Edition
January 27, 2013 6:55 PM   Subscribe

I used to be a lawyer, but I hated it, so I quit and became a barista. Now I'm about to get my own café, and once again I hate my job. I need to change careers again. What next?

I did corporate law for 10 years. I was miserable for all 10 of them - I was one of those people who loved law school and excelled at it, got a job after graduation at one of the largest firms in Boston, and then hated actually practicing law. In retrospect, I should have gone into some other kind of law, but it's too late for that now. About 3 years ago, I quit and got a job as a barista at a chain coffee place. I have always loved coffee. I spent a lot of money and some of the happiest times in my life at cafes, so I thought it made sense.

Aside from the paycut, I was really happy at first - I enjoyed the social aspect, the physicality of it, being around coffee, and making people happy. And soon I was promoted to shift supervisor, then to assistant store manager. Now I'm set to get my own store in April. But somewhere along the way, things have soured for me. I still love coffee, but I hate the hours, and my health is suffering (repetitive stress injuries, herniated disk in my neck, chronic pain, poor sleep from rotating shift work, etc.).

So it's time for me to change careers again. Once I actually get the promotion, I want to start preparing for my next move. I believe I will be a more attractive candidate for any job having had some management experience. Ideally, I'd like to get involved in the green economy somehow, being passionate about the environment and seeing it as a growth sector. Alternatively, if I could do it all over again, I'd become a therapist. But I don't want and can't afford to go back to school.

My main criteria:
  • I can't do a desk job. I can't spend my whole day at a computer/in a cubicle/office.
  • On the other hand, I can't do a really physical job, like installing solar panels or building things.
  • I'd prefer something for which I can get on the job training. I'd be willing to take a class or two, but I can't go back to school full-time.
  • I'd prefer something with regular, M-F, 9-5 hours and no overnight travel (I have a 6-year-old).
  • I'm in the greater Boston area and can't relocate.
My main skills:
  • Training and coaching/managing people
  • Customer service
  • Leadership (I'm very competitive and can inspire/lead teams effectively)
  • Sales & product knowledge
  • Listening/empathy
So, Metafilter, what should I do next?
posted by acridrabbit to Work & Money (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
(Asking for a friend. I can get answers to any follow-up questions you may have.)
posted by acridrabbit at 6:55 PM on January 27, 2013


If you think you'd like another kind of law, that's not out of the question. I know you said no desk job, but maybe something social service-y? Maybe something in job retaining (or like goodwill?)?
posted by dpx.mfx at 7:19 PM on January 27, 2013


You mention that you have a six year old... maybe you like kids? You could do legal work for a child advocacy organization, maybe, that would get you out of the office on site visits, stuff like that.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:33 PM on January 27, 2013


I would look at the field of planned giving, which is an area of fundraising for non-profits. I have three friends who were lawyers who left practice, and eventually moved into this field. Because there is a lot of estate planning stuff, having a law degree is extremely helpful. And depending on the size of the institution, you can spend a good deal of time out of the office, visiting donors or prospective donors. There would still be a degree of "desk work" but working for an NGO would give you the steady hours you want, and often pretty decent benefits.
posted by kimdog at 7:36 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


In retrospect, I should have gone into some other kind of law, but it's too late for that now.

Why? Did you tear up your license to practice law and renounce the bar association in some unforgettable ritual that guarantees you'll never be a lawyer again? Assuming not, why not check out environmental law, or even social services, as mentioned above. Legal aid clinic, get on the list to be the court-appointed attorney for children in the social services system. You can't be a therapist without going back to school, but in the right lawyer job you can still help people in need just as much.
posted by trivia genius at 8:05 PM on January 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Housing court helping tenants deal with landlords is my suggestion. It seems like simple enough work that requires being at the courts answering Notices of Petition, but also visiting people who can't leave home due to age or infirmity who might be in a world of trouble if they get evicted. Even a tenants non-organization or other non-profit will pay much better than a coffee shop type wages, even for a manager.
posted by Skygazer at 9:04 PM on January 27, 2013


I can't do a desk job. I can't spend my whole day at a computer/in a cubicle/office.
On the other hand, I can't do a really physical job, like installing solar panels or building things.


There are other types of jobs? As I'd put things like retail in both of those categories, I can't see that there are other options out there.

In retrospect, I should have gone into some other kind of law, but it's too late for that now.

No, it isn't. Small firm and solo practice is worlds different from corporate law. You get out of the office a lot more, and you're dealing with dozens of clients about relatively small matters rather than one or two clients about huge matters. And as long as you've got a license, you can hang a shingle. Reactivating a lapsed license takes some doing, but it can be done. There are so many different kinds of practice out there that concluding that you don't like the law after only working in one of them is just a bad move.
posted by valkyryn at 3:26 AM on January 28, 2013


What about selling artisan coffee beans? There's a guy in my neighbourhood who went out and purchased a coffee bean roaster and is now selling some extremely fine coffee out of his house. It's a sideline to his job as a fireman but he's been getting a lot of business in the last few months.
posted by smcniven at 7:05 AM on January 28, 2013


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