Mid-career switch … advisable or not?

Monday, December 1st, 2008 - Career

Career Change


Roy asks: What advice would you give for someone in his thirties, with 7-8 years of experience in marcomm and HR, and a first degree in Economics, thinking of doing a law degree and trying to switch to a legal career? I’m actually trying to decide if I should give up on my ongoing MBA course to do a LLB, and I’m solely looking at in-house counsel or corporate lawyer positions only, not planning to take the Bar examinations and become a practising solicitor or barrister. Could someone give some advise? Go for it, or not?

In answer:
You can generally successfully make any such career changes or leaps into the unknown, as long as you are fully qualified by the age of 45. At that point you still have 20 years of career left until retirement to be able to reach a good standard, and pay back the inevitable loans you will have taken out to pay for that change of career path.

After that point it becomes a risk, as the payback period even for you – let alone an employer who may train you – becomes too short. There are also clear physical careers that you could not enter after the age of 35 – the forces, deep sea commercial diving, and even commercial airline pilot would be difficult.

I would hence conclude if advising anyone in taking such a leap to:

  • (a) really asses that this is what you want to do, may be looking at taking some aptitude tests
  • (b) speak to someone who has undertaken such a leap, for their advice
  • (c) solidify any existing experiences or qualifications to the point of conclusion. Hence in your case I would suggest you complete the MBA
  • (d) put a plan in place which includes realistic finances. Assume you won’t be doing much more than burger flipping two nights a week at max!
  • (e) get your friends and family to sign-in
  • (f) have a fall back plan. You might not get there, and your health issues and risks will rise with age

If this is what you really want to do, then you can do it. But figure out a plan, get sign-in from those you care about, and have a fall back position.

Good Luck!

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