Career Alternatives

There’s a really funny post up on Constitutional Daily, in which the protagonist — who holds a J.D. from NYU Law and was laid off from Biglaw during the recession — recounts his inability to secure a job at Target. It got me thinking of that other great lie that law schools tell incoming law students: “Yada yada, you can do anything with a law degree… also, I’d like to interest you in partial ownership of the Brooklyn Bridge.”

But many J.D. holders have found out the hard way that holding a law degree only opens doors to “law” jobs. They aren’t degrees of general utility.

If anything, they close more doors than they open….

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If you look back at the great law firm departure memos of years past, you’ll see that almost all of them were written by associates. When partners leave Biglaw, they tend to do so in rather staid fashion, presumably because they have less to complain about (although query whether that’s always the case; see, e.g., A Partner’s Lament).

Every now and then, you’ll come across a colorful farewell message penned by a partner. One such email, sent out last Friday by a longtime partner leaving a major law firm, is now making the rounds. Here’s a teaser: “I have realized that I cannot simultaneously meet the demands of career and family. Without criticizing those who have chosen lucre over progeny, let me just say that I am leaving the practice of law.”

Wow. So who’s the partner in question, which firm did he just leave with such flair, and what’s he planning to do next?

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My worst day as an artist is better than my best day as a lawyer.

Nathan Sawaya, former Winston & Strawn attorney turned LEGO artist, commenting on his decision to leave his lucrative Biglaw career to play with toys. His latest exibition, The Art of the Brick, will be on display from December 2, 2011 – February 20, 2012 at the Morris Museum in New Jersey.


It’s a question that seems to be on everyone’s mind lately. With the economy in shambles and people out protesting in the streets, many law students and young lawyers have started to question their decision to attend law school.

Given all of the other opportunities that you may have had, was going to law school the best choice you could have made? If you knew then what you now know, would you still have signed on the dotted line and accepted your seat in the class?

What would you have done instead of going to law school?

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Brian Smith no longer has to wear a suit to work.

A few weeks ago, I was drinking an Old Cuban with my roommate at my favorite bar, Grand Tavern. We were sitting on the back patio, when a group of men across from us started talking loudly about Above the Law. My ears perked up, and I began wondering if I might overhear something like this or this.

Fortunately for the gentlemen across the bar, I didn’t hear anything scandalous. Fortunately for me, I did hear them mention Brian Smith, a former associate at Nixon Peabody, who opened the doors to his new business, Huckleberry Bicycles, last Friday in San Francisco.

I met up with Smith last week, and we spoke about how he became a part of our growing club of lawyers not practicing law….

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Here at Above the Law, we sometimes write about career alternatives for attorneys. But what about attorneys who are living double lives in seemingly conflicting professions — attorneys like Alisha Smith, district attorney-cum-dominatrix extraordinaire?

Today, we bring you a story about an attorney coming straight outta Compton Knoxville.

Enter Lawyer Mike, a man who claims to be the “only rapping lawyer on the planet.” Lawyer Mike rolls hard. Can’t you tell from the picture?

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Taylor Swift

* Snowtober was a treat for some, but a trick for many more. Let us know how your firm is handling this Halloween horror. Email us or send a text to (646) 820-TIPS. [Reuters]

* Will the legal profession continue to be a slave to ethical rules of the past? Only if lawyers can’t profit from it. And if they can, then say hello to an ABA resolution in 2012. [New York Times]

* Pot trafficker: add this one to the list of career alternatives for attorneys that aren’t working out so well. But if you don’t mind giving up your Benz and getting disbarred, then go for it. [Times Union]

* Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you, I’mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best topless trademark lawsuits of all time. One of the best topless trademark lawsuits of all time! [Daily Mail]

* Urine trouble, lady. Here’s some proof that next time things aren’t going your way in court, you should try peeing all over yourself. [New York Post]

In need of legal representation.

* People seriously need to stop complaining about alternative careers for attorneys. Having a JD can lead to a fulfilling career outside of the law, assuming you can make partner at Cravath first. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Due to a decline in filing fees on the killing of the American dream, the Florida court system had to take out a $45.6M loan. It’s kind of like they have their own unpayable mortgage now. Gotta love karma. [Miami Herald]

* The ABA Journal really wants to know how hard it is for recent law school graduates to find a job. Maybe if we flood them with responses, the ABA will give a sh*t. Ugh, I’m way too optimistic. [ABA Journal]

* If you’re willing to move to Iowa, here’s a niche practice alert for you: stripper law. Who thought that you could find work in limiting boob exposure? And why would you want to? [Des Moines Register]

* We all know Michael Jackson was bad, but was he bad enough to drink his propofol straight up? Conrad Murray’s defense team may have changed its tune. [CNN]

* Did a judge seriously think he could arraign someone with close ties to the Wu? He’s lucky True Master didn’t let the killa bees out on his ass. [DNAinfo]

Putting years of legal education to use.

You know things are bad when U.S. News, the Holy Grail for students trying to figure out where to go to law school, is writing articles about all of the non-law related jobs recent graduates are taking just to get by.

This isn’t one of those “oooh, look at all the super-awesome things you can do with a sweet law degree” articles. U.S. News wrote a straight-out “J.D. stands for Just a Dog walker” article.

Everybody who is in law school knows how difficult the job market is. But U.S. News is giving this sobering message about “non-traditional” legal careers to people who have not yet signed up for their own financial doom.

And it turns out that even going to a highly ranked school doesn’t save you from having awful job choices…

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* Will the DOJ ask the 11th Circuit to reconsider Obamacare before appealing to SCOTUS to get the president reeelected? Does a bear sh*t in the woods? [Los Angeles Times]

* The verdict is in on Elena Kagan’s first year on the bench, and one thing’s for sure: the ladies love her. That’s definitely what she said. Right, RBG? [Washington Post]

* Casey Anthony now owes Florida over $217K. That’s almost as much as it costs to raise a child to age 18. Talk about a bad return on an investment. [CNN]

* Antonin Scalia, the Rock Star of One First Street, banned paparazzi from his Duquesne Law appearance. Tiger Beat had to settle for pictures of Taylor Lautner. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Meth dealer: not a viable career alternative for attorneys. This 2011 law school graduate will be heading to jail after she gets her bar exam results. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]

* Never accuse an elderly New Yorker of incest. She might sue, because she “was never that hard up that [she] would tap on family.” You go, girl grandma! [New York Post]

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