Lawyer to Nurse

  1. I am considering a career change from law to nursing. I am a practicing attorney and am very unhappy in my current career. I am actually one of the lucky ones who did very well in law school and, as a result, have a very "good" law job, with an excellent salary. However, I dread coming to work every day and count the minutes until I get to go home, only to do it over and over again.

    The law is an isolating profession. Many days I interact with no one all day except my secretary. Everything is done online over e-mail. I also want my time away from my family to be worth something - to make a positive impact on someone else.

    Has anyone else made this career change? Am I crazy?
  2. Visit layne228 profile page

    About layne228

    Joined: Mar '10; Posts: 6; Likes: 4


  3. by   howardrgreenberg
    I am a public defender in Maryland, also disenchanted with my career as an attorney. I am in the process of applying to nursing school. So you are not alone. Two other lawyers are in the nursing program I am applying to.
  4. by   ♪♫ in my ♥
    The isolation of my engineering career was one of many reasons that I decided to switch to nursing.

    You should realize that your "excellent salary" as an attorney is not likely to be attainable through nursing (though some nurses are paid very, very well).
  5. by   layne228
    Thanks for the replies. It's nice to know I am not alone. All of the searches I have conducted on this site have nurses going back to law school, not the other way around.

    And, I fully realize the salary will be lower in nursing, and am prepared for that. I want a career that I enjoy, and that I feel makes a difference.
  6. by   ♪♫ in my ♥
    Personally, I think attorneys and nurses are polar opposites in terms of value and benefit to society.

    I say, come on over to the bright side. :-)
  7. by   howardrgreenberg
    I realize your comment regarding lawyers being on the dark side is said in jest. Nevertheless, it's a sensitive subject for me. Spend some time in the criminal justice system and see how people with substance abuse problems or mental health problems are treated; you would be shocked to tears. I defend these folks. Lawyering is not necessarily the polar opposite of nursing. Defending people is the last hope for a free society.

    Still, after fifteen years I've become extremely burnt out. And I am frustrated by the difficulty in relocating to another state - lawyers cannot practice without first re-barring in the new state. Coming from Maryland, that requires re-taking the bar exam. And then, employment is difficult to obtain..... Nursing offers the promise of being in a caring profession which requires intelligence and skill and the opportunity to relocate with less difficulty. Hence my decision to change careers....
  8. by   RunningRNBSN
    I worked in the legal system for 3 years (not as an attorney but rather as a small claims court mediator), and I met an attorney that was a nurse prior to pursuing law school. She said she adjusted well to the legal atmosphere because both atmospheres were very similar in how they were structured and the types of people and attitudes you encounter. I found that very interesting...

    On another side note, I hope you are prepared to lose a lot of autonomy in nursing. As a lawyer, I would assume that you are very autonomous and have a lot of decision making power in your practice. As a nurse, it is exactly the opposite. There is very little autonomy and you are always answering to someone else. This is probably the biggest frustration I see among nurses.
  9. by   career#2
    I would think long and hard about it. I was in a similar position several years ago and decided to go the nursing route. I had taken some time off from my prior career after having my children and was working in a family business that offered more flexibility related to child care. Once my children were both in school, it was back to my former career or give nursing a try. After 3 years of school (including pre-reqs), 9 months post graduation, hundreds of applications later and I still don't have a job. Is it the economy? Maybe. My age? In my early 40's, I'd hate to think that but I have heard that from some. Is it my lack of prior healthcare experience? That could be, too. Just some things to consider.

    At this point, if I had to do it all over again, I probably wouldn't. At the very least, I would have been more proactive about finding a healthcare related position while in school. (Although I know a CNA and someone that worked in a physicians office while in school, they've just been able to find jobs in the past 2 months and one of those is not an ideal situation.) Of course, if I were to land a job tomorrow, I'd probably feel differently. One of the things that struck me about your post is that you want your time away from your family to be worth something. Nursing school was much more difficult than obtaining my first degree and I gave up a lot of family activities and outings to do well and succeed. So far those sacrifices have not paid off.

    I'm currently pursuing positions in both nursing and my prior career. I've come to the conclusion that neither is perfect; they both have their pros and cons. I love nursing. Even as a student I found it very rewarding. If I could find my dream job, I'd probably be quite happy. Nights/weekends/holidays don't thrill me to death, but it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make for a job that I enjoy. 3 12 hours shifts in a hospital setting is attractive. 5 8 hour shifts working 3-11 or 11-7 in LTC not so much (though I've applied to those, too). My old career isn't looking so bad these days. I've discovered that the position I hold doesn't define me, it's what enables me to enjoy those things that are important to me - namely my family and children. I'm fine with the salary reduction, but tuition, books, unemployment (although I continued working while in nursing school, I have since been laid off) is starting to take its toll. While our hearts may be in the right place, the reality of it has been quite different.

    I don't want to dissuade you from pursuing nursing, if you feel it will truly make you happy. Just trying to point out some of the things I wish I had considered in more depth before giving up so much.
  10. by   ProgressiveThinking
    WOW. I was actually considering trying to eventually get into a law school. After doing some research, it seems like unless you went to a really good tier 1 school(correct me if I'm wrong), it's hard to land a decent paying job.

    Nursing and law are obviously two completely different professions. As a nurse you will lack the autonomy you once had. You're basically going to start out following orders. Here in southern CA, the pay is decent (avg = 70k not including overtime). BUT...I've seen a few people drop out of nursing school because they decided it wasn't for them.

    My advice to you is to do some research on nursing specialties
    (ER, ICU, etc.), and shadow a RN in your preferred specialty before you make such a drastic life change. If you decide that nursing if for you, then do it!
  11. by   RunningRNBSN
    Career#2 -- it is very interesting how we always think it is greener on the other side. I dislike my position as a bedside nurse. I find reward in caring for patients but very much dislike being a bedside nurse. I am nearly done with my masters degree and cannot wait to be done so I can hopefully find a position outside of bedside nursing.

    To the OP, have you considered changing practices or doing something different with your law degree?
  12. by   career#2
    And hindsight is 20/20! One of the funny things though is that had I not done this, I would have always wondered. And the unhappiness/wanting something more probably would have continued to grow. I think that it's because of this experience that I can look back and see the positives of career#1 and the things that I miss. What a situation to be in. Burning both ends of the candle pretty fiercely at the moment, something's got to give soon. And I think I can honestly say that I'll be equally happy with either and just a little bit saddened by what I may have missed out on.
  13. by   Flare
    If you think that getting into nursing would be right for you, then go for it. There are ways to take is slowly so you would'nt have to stop working as an attorney altogether. Also - you may want to look into using your skills as a lewyer and getting into legal nursing. Either way it's a pay cut from what you are making, but i know that money isn't as important as going into a job you truly enjoy.
  14. by   EnRsmom
    I recently completed the career change from lawyer to newly licensed RN! I have been a lawyer for over 15 years, and worked in corporate litigation. I must admit that it was the best decision that I ever made regarding a career change. While getting through nursing school was not easy, since I was juggling work (in a hospital), two young children, and a husband, it has definately paid off. Now I work 3 days a week instead of 6 or 7, and I am happy to go to work, see my coworkers and help the patients. Not all days are easy or perfect, and I still have a lot to learn, but I am enjoying myself. For whatever it is worth, it is doable.... I am in my early 40's, just graduated with honors in December and passed the NCLEX.

    If you are interested in nursing, look into it and give it a try! We need nurses and it may be the perfect career change for you!

    Good Luck!