Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Lawyers In Transition Part 19- Staying Engaged in the Law

Stepping away from private practice – either full-time or part-time – doesn’t mean you have to disengage from the law.

To the contrary, it can open new possibilities for growth in your law life.

One option is to share your wisdom by teaching. There’s a good chance that a nearby law school, university or community college could use someone with your experience and expertise. Volunteer as a guest lecturer or apply for a faculty position. Make it work for you.

Or you can flip the script and become a student again. Take a specialized course in the law, or sign up for an unrelated subject you’ve always been interested in. Distance learning makes your choices practically unlimited.

NC Bar Pro Bono Legal Services

If you retire or choose to become an inactive member of the NC State Bar, you can put your legal skills to use in a supervised setting while avoiding the headaches of private practice. Do this by petitioning for emeritus pro bono status. This allows you to serve as pro bono counsel for indigent clients of nonprofit organizations.

Here is a  Petition for Emeritus Pro Bono Status. Here is a Statement Regarding Pro Bono Supervision.

For additional information about emeritus pro bono status or to find a pro bono supervisor or project, visit the NC Equal Access to Justice Commission website.

Another healthy alternative is volunteering in a non-legal context. A study conducted at Carnegie Mellon University found that older adults who volunteer at least 200 hours a year have lower blood pressure, less anxiety and higher psychological well-being.

“Volunteering may increase feelings of purpose and meaning in life,” writes one of the principal scientists on the Carnegie Mellon Study. “[T]hese have the potential of improving cardiovascular health.”

Check Out LM’s Resource Center

Want to learn other ways to use your legal skills? Here are some titles from Lawyers Mutual’s free lending library.

  1. Built to Sell: Creating a Business that Can Thrive Without You by John Warrillow
  2. Lawyers at Midlife by Michael Long, John Clyde, Pat Funk
  3. Life After Law: What Will You Do With the Next 6,000 Days? by Edward Poll
  4. Partner Departures and Lateral Moves: A Legal and Ethical Guide by Geri S. Krauss
  5. Passing the Torch without getting burned by Peter A. Giuliani
  6. The Lawyer’s Guide to Retirement: Strategies for Attorneys and Their Clients by David A. Bridewell, Charles Nauts, Editors
  7. The Lawyer’s Retirement Planning Guide by Susan A. Berson
  8. Turning Out the Lights: Planning for Closing Your Law Practice by Mark Scruggs & Bill Raubil, editors
  9. Younger Next Year by Chris Cowley & Henry S. Lodge, MD


Click here to check out any of the above publications.


Five Tips For Staying Engaged in the Law

  1. Share your knowledge. Become a law mentor. Contact the Dean of Students at the nearest law school to sign up.
  2. Stay active, stay sharp. Studies show that a vibrant social life combined with mental stimulation may help lower the risk or dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
  3. Tutor the next generation. Volunteer to help a middle school student learn English as a second language. Become an assistant swim coach at the YMCA. Teach kids chess.
  4. Join community organizations. Your legal experience will prove valuable as a board member at your church or neighborhood association. Your leadership skills are needed at the local Chamber of Commerce.
  5. Build your professional legacy. The years you spent in active practice don’t have to be your endnote. Continue writing the story of your law life even after you’ve turned out the office lights.

About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

Read More by Jay >

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