Career Alternatives

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a princess, an actress, and a firewoman. For most, growing up means losing the “and” (and the dreams of doing something so far-fetched, by which I mean me becoming a firewoman). Indeed, for many of my lawyer friends, particularly those in Biglaw, you become “a lawyer,” no “and.” Billing hours overtakes your life. If you are lucky, you become a lawyer AND someone who sleeps occasionally (on a huge pile of money).

I recently met a small-firm lawyer who embraced the “and.” Whether it is unique to the small firms where she has practiced or is true of many small-firm lawyers, Cheryl “Cheri” Richards reminded me of something I had forgotten about lawyers: they can be interesting and multidimensional….

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Most lawyers suffer through at least a few years in Biglaw before deciding to find greener pastures, expensive education be damned. It is the rare few who abandon their legal careers before they even start.

While wannabe lawyers across the country are hunkered down this week in the torture session rite of passage that is the bar exam, one recent law grad is opting for a different kind of beat down. Gretchen Kittelberger, a 2011 graduate of UVA Law School, is foregoing the July bar exam in order to compete in the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games and vie for the title of Fittest Woman on Earth.

After placing second at the 2011 Mid Atlantic Regional during her final semester of law school, Gretchen is headed to Carson, California, to compete against freakishly-in-shape people from around the world.

The CrossFit Finals, held July 29-31, are grueling enough that they make sitting for the bar exam almost seem like fun…

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If you are lawyer who is looking for a career change, you really might want to give blogging a try. You won’t make as much money as you would in a Biglaw job. You probably won’t make as much as you would working for a well-respected small law firm.

But money isn’t everything. Take it from me. Or Lat. Or Staci. For instance, right now I’m sitting in my backyard, my dog is curled up by my feet, and I have a fresh pot of coffee. Once I turn the ringer off on my phone (so I can’t hear my creditors calling), it’s a pretty good life. Beat that with a stick.

And it is with that in mind that we welcome another former lawyer to the Breaking Media fold. Check below to meet the new writer for our sister site, Dealbreaker

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Are you a recent law school graduate searching for a job in a down economy? Do you hope to find a nontraditional position in the Great Midwest? Do you have an unconditional love for breakfast foods? If so, you need look no further, because Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis may be able to assist you with all of your employment needs.

As we know, IU Indy Law likes to keep it real — so real, in fact, that Dean Gary Roberts has preached that law students are idiots if they believe their salaries will be $140,000 right out of school. At odds with this tradition of realness, the second tier law school is offering its recent graduates what seems to be a prestigious, in-house opportunity.

The job listing in question touts: “It’s a good feeling to know someone is paying you for what you’re worth.” But unfortunately, at this law school, your J.D. is worth jack squat and a stack of waffles….

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Wouldn't you love to lick one of these?

When faced with a job that isn’t making you happy, sometimes creativity is necessary in order to escape. Because hey, not everyone can enjoy courtroom glory like that of Jose Baez, knight in shining armor for Casey Anthony. And so, for these people, there are many career alternatives to choose from.

We’ve written previously about these creative types: some decided that they’d rather walk across the country than work another day in Biglaw; others decided to hang their own shingles in the wonderful world of mobile cupcakes.

If doing something that will make you or your customers wish for a summer oasis is your thing, then I say go for it.

But some lawyers opt to pair business sense with their creativity. Some lawyers realize that during the summer, the ideal treat is not scaling a mountain or munching on a cupcake, but instead, licking a popsicle or two. And that is how one former prosecutor started a delicious frozen empire in Georgia to become the self-proclaimed Earl of Pops….

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Tyler Coulson's dog, Mabel.

Do you remember our Lawyer of the Month for March, Tyler Coulson? In case you don’t, he’s the former Sidley Austin Chicago associate who decided that he’d rather take his dog on a cross-country walk than do another day of lawyering. Before leaving, Coulson sent what was described by a fellow Sidley source as the “coolest ‘f**k you I quit’ email” ever:

Today is my last day at Sidley. You may keep in touch with me at gtcoulson@gmail.com, through Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/tyler.coulson, or via Twitter, @ibuildnosystem.

Beginning next week, I am walking from Delaware to California with a tent and my dog, Mabel. I will have limited access to email, but will check messages frequently.

Geo. Tyler Coulson

On March 9, 2011, Coulson began his journey in Delaware with his pooch Mabel, in the hopes of making it to California by September. So, inquiring minds at Above the Law want to know: What the heck happened to Coulson and man’s best friend?

Did he have to pull any crazy Bear Grylls maneuvers, like creating his own “sheeping” bag for warmth? Did he have to hack off his own arm with a dull blade, like in 127 Hours? To find out if Coulson’s story turned out anything like Into the Wild, read on….

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Are you familiar with the website Post Secret? If not, you should check it out. It describes itself as “an ongoing community art project, where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard.”

The secret-spilling postcards are then posted to the web. One of the entries from this past weekend gives a great shout-out to a leading law firm….

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Student prepares for job hunt.

The most important person in law school administration is the dean. That makes sense. He or she makes policy and is in charge of the academic and financial footing for the entire school.

But who is the second most-important administrator? The dean of students? The head financial aid officer? I say that the second most-important administrative position on a law school campus is held by the career services dean.

Sure, a lot of schools don’t think that way. And even most law students act like the career services people should be glorified secretaries, setting up appointments and staying out of the way.

But in this economy, if you can’t get a job, what was the point of going to law school? And right now there are far too many law students who can’t secure employment. Most of a law school’s administration is concerned with roping in the next herd of lemmings sheep students. But the career services dean is forced to think about what will happen to kids after they graduate. If career services deans are doing their jobs well, they are some of the most important people on campus.

And when a person who holds such a crucial position leaves to do something that makes you say “what,” it really makes you wonder if current law students have any chance at getting the kind of professional placement help they desperately need….

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Having known many, many lawyers over the years, it seems clear to me that the typical overworked lawyer spends most non-working moments daydreaming of one of two things: an exit strategy and meeting another attractive human being. The demanding hours of the legal profession can make it difficult to meet a potential mate. After too many long hours at a desk without any real social interaction (trolling the ATL comments doesn’t count), even the dorky associate down the hall in the tax department can start to seem attractive. I’ve heard far too many stories from fellow associates about how sleep deprivation and loneliness can lead to some pretty bad decisions.

One New York lawyer has decided to get more creative in his quest to spend some actual face-to-face time with a real live attractive woman. This attorney, we’ll call him “Mr. Model,” has turned to Craigslist — and not the Casual Encounters section — in search of a smokin’ hottie….

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If you want something versatile, buy a Swiss Army Knife.

Raise your hand if one of your reasons for going to law school was that somebody told you a law degree was “versatile” and that you can do a whole bunch of things with a J.D.

Keep your hand up if time and the recession have proven that “versatility” thing to be a complete load of BS.

Now extend one special finger if you blame somebody at your law school for filling your head with misleading platitudes about all the options you get when you go to law school.

If you are flipping the bird at thin air, maybe you should have gone to the University of Washington Law School School of Law. They at least give students subtle clues….

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