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How Do I Pivot From a Law Career to a Corporate Role?

A lawyer wants advice on switching to a corporate position. After putting years into a specific career path, it's understandable if you feel stuck in that role.

© Courtesy “I’m a lawyer, but I want to have input on a company’s path. How do I jump into the corporate world?” —Megan Lopp Mathias, Chicago

By Lisa Freedman, Working Mother

A lawyer wants advice on switching to a corporate position.

After putting years into a specific career path, it's understandable if you feel stuck in that role. That's what happened to lawyer and working mom of three Megan Lopp Mathias. Megan founded her own firm, but now wants to transition to a corporate role, like being a C-suite executive. To help answer her questions on switching tracks, we consulted a career expert who gave her some sage advice.

THE DILEMMA: “I started my own law firm; most of my clients are women-owned businesses or female executives, and I help them grow. What I really want, though, is to be an officer, board member, SVP or in a C-suite, to have input on the path of a company. But the jump into the corporate world isn’t easy. Some people assume I have no operational experience and want to slate me into the legal department, not on an officer track. Do I have to go back to school? I have three kids (ages 3, 4 and 14), so that seems like a lot to manage.”

THE ADVICE: While it might be tempting to apply to every job that pops up online, that’s not the best strategy, according to Katherine Kirkinis, head of career assessment at Wanderlust Careers in New York City. “If her resume doesn’t have corporate experience, they will probably pass her over for someone who does.” Instead, Kirkinis says Megan should work her contacts or get more—maybe through a women’s networking group such as the Women’s Law Network or the Women Empower Expo. “Employers will consider her more seriously if a trusted employee or advisor recommends her and can speak to the quality of her work.”

Of course, there are things Megan can do to her resume to play up her most applicable experience—without going back to school. Kirkinis says it’s crucial to align each resume she sends out with the job listing. “Just don’t obviously lift their language, because that can read as disingenuous,” she says. “Paraphrasing or using similar language, mixed in with some key words, is best.”

One last suggestion from Kirkinis: “Megan could conduct an informational interview with an SVP to ask for their thoughts on the matter; someone in the field is always the best source of information.” Just send an email—with the word “Inquiry” in the subject line—to someone at a midsize company you admire and ask to meet for coffee so you can learn more about her experience. (Many people are down to chat!) Short on time? Ask for a 15-minute phone or video call. 

© Courtesy ADVISOR: Katherine Kirkinis, head of career assessment at Wanderlust Careers in New York City

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Career Magazine: How Do I Pivot From a Law Career to a Corporate Role?
How Do I Pivot From a Law Career to a Corporate Role?
A lawyer wants advice on switching to a corporate position. After putting years into a specific career path, it's understandable if you feel stuck in that role.
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