Marc Luber is a career coach for lawyers and the founder of JD Careers Out There, a video-based website that helps lawyers explore a wide variety of career paths you can do with a law degree. As a lawyer who always pursued alternative careers he found fulfilling, it’s Marc’s mission to help other lawyers find careers that fit them. He believes it’s equally legitimate whether you choose to practice law or work in alternative careers. Marc is based in Los Angeles, California.
Q. Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself and your life at law school? What extra-curricular and co-curricular activities were you involved in?
It’s a pleasure to be communicating with you and your audience. I have never been to India but have been interested in visiting since childhood. As someone who grew up before the internet, it still amazes me how the internet makes the world smaller and brings us all together.
My reasons for going to law school are a little unusual. As a young person in 1985, I was glued to MTV for all 16 hours of the 1985 Live Aid concerts for famine relief in Ethiopia. You may have been exposed to this event from the Bohemian Rhapsody movie from a few years ago. There was a guy on stage for the American side of Live Aid who caught my attention. Something about him seemed important. He was holding a clipboard, appeared to be running things backstage, and introduced some of the artists. I saw him again one year later when he was clearly running the show and introducing most of the acts at the Amnesty International Concerts on MTV headlined by U2. I decided to research this person.
His name was Bill Graham. He fled Germany as a kid during the World War II genocide known as the holocaust. Most of his family was killed, but he made it to France and then to New York, where he learned English and was raised by a foster family. When he turned 30, he moved to San Francisco and helped create the live music concert industry that we know today. He played an important role in the careers of legends like Bob Dylan, Santana, the Rolling Stones, and many more.
I wrote Bill a letter and asked how I could be just like him when I grow up. He wrote me back and suggested I go to law school and do many internships. So that’s what I did! Unfortunately, Bill died in a plane crash years before I ever graduated, so I never got to meet him or work for him. When he died, I wrote a letter to his office to express my sympathy. They sent me a poster from his memorial concert that happened that week. You can see that poster in all of my videos. It is always behind me on my office wall.
I went to law school in my hometown of Chicago. I made some very good friends in law school but was not very involved in extra-curricular activities. I did participate in an after-school weekly seminar on sports and entertainment law and also did a moot court seminar. I also did an after-school internship one semester for a lawyer who represented music legend James Brown. But otherwise, I was definitely not Mr. Law School.
Q. You have had a variety of quite interesting experiences right after graduation that weren’t conventionally what a Law graduate would do. Did you ever envision that you would switch careers while at law school or even right after graduation?
It was originally my plan to be a music lawyer and work for Bill Graham. That changed when he died. My first summer in law school, I worked in New York in the legal department of a giant music company drafting and amending recording contracts. I realized then that law practice was not for me. It just felt like paperwork to me. That was a painful realization. I decided then that I would use my law degree in an alternative way. My next summer, I worked in Los Angeles for a music talent manager and felt that that kind of work was a better fit for me than law practice. I considered dropping out of law school, but I like to finish things that I start. I had already learned a lot and wanted to earn the degree. I met a young band I liked at a party in Los Angeles and started doing some work for them during my last year of school. They were based in San Francisco, but I thought maybe I would manage them after graduation.
After I graduated and passed the bar, I called Bill Graham’s office (which was running without him) to say I wanted to work there. They said they had no jobs available. I thought maybe if I show up at their door, something could change. Plus, they were in the same city as the band I wanted to manage. So, I drove across the US from Chicago to San Francisco (33-hour drive), showed up at the office, and got offered the opportunity to work there. I briefly had to start as an intern, but that led to a job with them working on a Rolling Stones tour of the U.S. It was incredibly exciting. I wasn’t using my law degree, but I was living a dream and knew I should be patient.
When the tour ended, I moved to Los Angeles to work in the marketing department of a big music company.
Q. Was the process of career change a difficult one? What factors did you suggest one must take into consideration before making ta career switch? Looking back, do you think you might have wanted to do the entire process differently?
Yes, making the career change was difficult. First, it was difficult emotionally. A part of me felt like a failure that I was doing something other than law practice. Second, it was very difficult to get someone to hire me because they either thought I was overqualified or couldn’t understand why I would want to do something other than law practice. It took a lot of work and practice to learn how to communicate about myself in a way that made sense to employers so they would give me a chance. I’m particularly talking about when I moved to Los Angeles, because my Bill Graham experience was unique thanks to my years of correspondence with them.
I eventually was getting hired because of my law degree. I took jobs where I was doing intellectual property licensing, helping to get music used in audio-visual productions like TV and film. When the music industry started shrinking, I made a career change. I heavily researched two paths and became a legal recruiter. It was again a challenge to make a change, especially since this time I was pursuing something other than my passion and had to figure out what to pursue. But I created a system for how to do it based on my previous experiences.
When making a career change, it is very important to align yourself with the career path. You want to be sure there is a fit. Your talents, skills, interests, goals, and values are all an important part of who you are. You want those things to fit the new path. So you want to do a lot of self-reflection and do a lot of career path research so you can fit those two puzzle pieces together. Self-reflection is hard to do alone. I worked with a career coach when I made my change and today I help lawyers with this process through my coaching programs.
The other important factor is meeting with many people who do the work that interests you. Having conversations with real people who do the work can help you determine the realities of that work and whether it actually fits you. Those same people can help you get access to opportunities. If you are not willing to put in the work to have many conversations with people you don’t yet know, then you are going to have a more difficult time getting opportunities that really fit you. Just sending resumes to online openings is usually a waste of time and can even lead you to accepting a job that does not even fit you.
Looking back, I would not change anything about the process. However, if I were not so obsessed with music, I would likely have pursued broadcast journalism. I sometimes wish that I did, because that is something that still interests me today.
Q. What were some of the challenges that you faced as a part of the process of making a career switch from the legal field as a Legal Recruiter to creating your current ventures “Careers Out There” & JD Careers Out There”? How did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge of going from legal recruiting to what I do now was a financial challenge. I was making good money as a legal recruiter. But so many lawyers I talked to every day were unhappy and wanted to change their careers. I understood how they felt and wanted to help them. That mission led me to start COT and JDCOT. But starting those ventures meant making no money and spending my recruiting money until I figured out how to make those ventures work. I overcame this by not buying the house I was considering buying! We have to make choices in life. Sometimes we have to sacrifice one thing to achieve another. I was aware of this and at peace with this.
The other challenge was that I was used to working in careers where there are rules. You do this and you get that. In creating COT and JDCOT, it was like having a blank canvas and having to come up with a painting. Not just a painting, but a painting that someone would want to buy. I knew the outcome I wanted to achieve for people and knew I wanted to make broadcast journalism be a part of it for me, but that was all I knew. So it has always been about putting one foot in front of the other.
Q. Could you tell us a little about your initiative JDCOT? What does a typical day in your life look like?
At the website JDCOT, people get to know me and see how I help lawyers explore careers that fit them. They can choose to work with me for career coaching and get help with the entire journey of finding the right career fit and getting a job. They can also subscribe to JDCOT, which provides access to my video interview library, which has interviews I’ve done with lawyers working in a wide variety of careers. They share what their careers are really like and how the law background has helped them.
My typical day is a mix of being on the phone or Zoom with clients for career coaching sessions and running a website. Running a website means creating content for the website and for email newsletters, fixing or getting help fixing technical problems with the website, responding to emails, interacting with any contractors who are doing work on my behalf, and doing things like this interview with you. It’s a mix of very interactive with other humans and very isolating just working with my computer. For me, the more interaction with humans, the better.
Q. Has your legal background helped you in anyway in your current professional journey of entrepreneurship? Are there any unexpected skills that you brought in from law school into your career today?
My legal background helped me get the exciting experiences I had in music licensing. It helped me get my legal recruiting experience. Those work experiences, combined with my life’s journey of finding multiple career fits, transitioning my skills and background, and communicating to employers about my background all help me in my current professional journey. Essentially, I am my clients. I went to law school, worked in a law job, (also worked a college summer in my uncle’s law firm), determined I wanted to do something beyond law practice, had to figure out what that was, who I was, work with a career counselor, determine how to develop relationships to get the opportunities I wanted….All of the things I help my clients with today. Without my legal background, it would have been harder to get my previous work experiences, and harder to understand the thinking of my clients and potential clients today. So my legal background definitely helps.
As for skills from law school, I think law school made me a better communicator. It helped me be more concise and clear in my writing, speaking, and teaching. It helped me be better at coming up with analogies to help people understand things. It helped me avoid ambiguity when communicating.
Q. Most of our readers are students of the law or are law graduates. What advice do you have for those who want to take up a career based on their passion but feel limited to the conventional career options in the legal field?
Ask yourself this: Has an employer in your area of passion told you that you are limited? Or do you just “feel” limited? If you just “feel” limited, then you are what is standing in the way. If an employer tells you that you are limited, then you want to find out how to overcome that limitation. Then you need to determine whether you can do what it takes to overcome it and whether you want to. If it means making a sacrifice (like less money, more years in school), are you willing to make that sacrifice?
Also, since we’re on the topic of passions, don’t assume that because you are passionate about a topic that you would be happy doing the day-to-day, hour-to-hour work that is done in that field. Learn the realities of the work. Then ask yourself whether those realities incorporate what you are good at doing and what you enjoy doing. Meet with many people who do the work. Ask them everything you want to know about the realities of the work. Tell them about yourself and get their advice. Ask them to help you.
But before all of this, do some essential self-reflection so you can get clarity on what you’re good at, what you really want in your day-to-day and what you have to offer employers. This is the foundation upon which you can build a good career search, career transition, and career fit.
Find out more about Marc Luber –
- LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/luber/
- Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/JDCOT/
- Website – https://jdcareersoutthere.com
Disclaimer – All views and opinions expressed in this interview are personal and belong solely to the interviewee(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the LAABh Foundation or the individuals and institutions associated with LAABh Foundation.