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(BPT) - It's never too late to feed your passion and discover a new career. Take, for example, Julia Child, who left OSS, the forerunner of the CIA, to become a chef; Sara Blakely, a door-to-door sales woman who went on to create Spanx; and Andrea Bocelli, a former attorney who left the courtroom for the stage to become a world-renowned singer.
While most of us might not go from spy to famed chef, there are endless opportunities to switch gears and find success. Focusing on one career in a lifetime is a concept of the past. According to several reports, Gen Xers and millennials tend to change jobs and careers more often than prior generations. Additionally, 2015 and 2016 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that 6.2 million workers changed occupation groups.
New technology and flexible educational options make a career shift easier than ever, even in the legal field. Online law schools can help facilitate one’s desire to change careers, especially while working. Two attorneys who earned Juris Doctor (JD) degrees from Concord Law School at Purdue University Global, the nation’s first fully online law school, share their stories, their decisions to go back to school and what inspired them to make a career change.*
Entrepreneur With A License To Practice
Jeanilou Grace Maschhoff, a 2009 graduate, owned a talent management and entertainment consulting firm before making the switch to law. To fuel her company’s growth, she wanted to gain more business and legal knowledge; however, as a full-time working mom with few geographically accessible brick-and-mortar law schools, she had to get creative with her legal education.
“If a legal career calls to you or seems like something you want to follow, think outside the traditional path,” said Maschhoff. “I initially thought I had to do things the conventional way, but with technology and flexibility, there’s a whole new frontier to pursue law.”
Maschhoff’s creative thinking led her to an online law school. After completing her Juris Doctor degree online at Concord Law School, Maschhoff leveraged her knowledge in entertainment and worked with mentors through Concord’s incubator program to launch her own virtual law firm.
Today, her practice focuses on the beauty, fashion and fitness industries, helping those in her hometown of Southern California while living an ocean away. She’s dedicated to helping small-business owners and “mompreneurs” like her make their business ideas a reality. Using her expertise to help what she calls “CEOs of companies and households,” she counsels on an array of business and family matters.
“We’re seeing many law school graduates, like Jeanilou, move toward virtual law firms, blending their work experience with distance learning and technology to serve clients in innovative ways,” said Martin Pritikin, dean of Concord Law School at Purdue University Global. “Concord’s incubator program is designed to help people like Jeanilou break barriers and open new doors.”
Making the decision to pursue a new career later in life is the first step; but once complete, opening a business or law firm is another challenge that can seem daunting at first.“Don’t think that you have to have everything done and in place to get started,” said Maschhoff. “It’s OK to start simple. People used to spend so much time and capital getting a physical space, but today there are so many options. Just do one small thing to bring your passion to life, and it will happen.”
Process Engineer Turned Legal Consumer Guardian
In Michigan, attorney Keith Altman (JD ‘08) is recognized for taking on social media giants Twitter, Facebook and YouTube on behalf of people killed in terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, Dallas, Orlando, Barcelona, Paris, Istanbul and Nice. His expertise in complex litigation started with a degree in astrophysics and a job as a process engineer, where he honed his ability to manage and assess enormous amounts of data and documents.
Altman’s legal path started when he managed document libraries and databases for tobacco and pharmaceutical litigation specialists. His extensive knowledge and experience shifted his career path to become a testifying expert in pharmaceutical safety issues. With an overwhelming passion to protect consumers, Altman knew he wanted to take the next step and become a lawyer. However, his job kept him on the road 120 days each year.
“Concord Law School’s top-notch professors, reasonable cost and flexibility to take time off made it the only option for me,” said Altman. “I continued working while at law school, allowing me to closely link my expertise with the law — a powerful combination and differentiator for new lawyers.”
Altman encourages newly minted lawyers to find their niche and leverage it to fast-track their success. He explained, “Take advantage of your business experience and maturity, and use that in conjunction with a law degree to bring something unique and valuable that will jumpstart the next chapter of your career.”
Taking The Leap
Like many students at Concord Law School, Altman and Maschhoff have unique backgrounds, a wealth of knowledge and a distinct outlook for their future. The online school’s non-traditional path provided the flexibility, thought-provoking curriculum, and career support they needed to take the leap and shift their careers. They both see endless possibilities ahead and encourage others to follow their paths to find fulfilling new professions.
For those considering a new career in the legal industry, please head to www.concordlawschool.edu for more information on their online law degree programs.
For comprehensive consumer information, visit www.ConcordLawSchool.edu/About-Concord-Law-School/Accreditation. Concord Law School cannot guarantee employment or career advancement. These testimonials were obtained by Concord Law School. The views and opinions expressed are those of the individual; student experiences may vary.
* Note that JD program graduates do not qualify to take the bar exam or to be admitted to practice law in jurisdictions outside of California without additional experience, education, or petition.