Lawyers moving into business roles – a high failure rate?

At a conference in late 2003, the General Counsel of Manulife, a Canadian financial services company then with 125 lawyers, estimated that one or two of his lawyers transfer each year to a non-lawyer role on the business side.

His offer to them was to hold their position for three months, while they decided whether the switch made sense to them and to their new group.  Candidly, he admitted that the law department might lose some of its best and brightest.  Despite the level of the departing, he estimated that “the failure rate is probably one-third to one-half of the émigré lawyers.  I took that to mean that a good portion of the lawyers either did not like their choice or did not succeed in the new position.

Even if that is a typical, poor track record, I support good lawyers exploring career options outside the law department.

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