Good news for general counsel who dream of one day sitting in the king’s seat: the ABA Magazine says there is a new trend of corporations tapping lawyers to become top executives:
Nine of the Fortune 50 companies now have a lawyer as chief executive, up from three just a decade ago. In December, Bank of America and Continental Airlines became the two most recent publicly traded corporations to do so. Also in 2009, Citigroup named Richard Parsons, another lawyer, as its chairman, which is separate from the CEO.
Business leaders and corporate headhunters agree that the JD is once again an alternative to the MBA as the degree of choice for CEO candidates, and that the trend is very likely to increase over the next decade.
Woo-hoo. Maybe law school grads will start kicking biz school grads to the curb. Vanderbilt’s management school dean goes so far as to call the J.D. a “renaissance degree.”
According to the ABA Magazine, one law school is particularly successful in sending its grads off to lead a company instead of doing bet-the-company work….
‘Think,’ one of the pieces on display at Agora Gallery.
This past weekend, two of your ATL editors paid a visit to Agora Gallery in Chelsea. We wanted to see for ourselves the LEGO brick sculptures of Nathan Sawaya, the lawyer turned LEGO artist.
As explained in our profile of Sawaya, the NYU Law grad left Winston & Strawn for a $30,000-a-year job as a builder at LEGOLAND. Several years later, Sawaya is now a world-renowned LEGO artist, whose works sell for thousands of dollars.
So, what did we get to set our eyes on? And how did we like it?
Welcome to the latest installment in our career alternatives series, in which we explore opportunities for attorneys outside the world of large law firms. We know and love the world of Biglaw — it’s our focus here at Above the Law — but we realize that there are other things you can do with a law degree.
One possible alternative: corporate intelligence (aka working as a private investigator / detective). A legal education certainly helps if you want to break into this field. Jules Kroll — founder of Kroll Inc., and widely regarded as “the founding father of the modern intelligence and security industry” — is a lawyer (Georgetown Law ’66).
Donald Trump is in the market for a lawyer, and if you’re unemployable, laid-off, or suffering because of the recession, you might just be the attorney for him. The next iteration of “The Apprentice” will be devoted to recession refugees, and the producers are looking to cast some legal types.
If your world has been rocked by the recession, maybe it’s time to seek out a reality TV gig. You could try to get on a game show for a one-time payout — like the UC Hastings grad who will be applying her Wheel of Fortune winnings toward her student loans — or you could try to get on a show that promises full-time employment a one-year contract to its winner. Assuming that you fare better than lawyer-turned-Playboy model Kristine Lefebvre, a loser from The Apprentice: Los Angeles.
An “Apprentice” rep tells us:
We are very interested in laid-off lawyers. Even lawyers that might have their own firm, but maybe business has suffered since the recession. As long as the downturn in the economy has affected them in one way or another, we can consider them.
The show will be filming for six weeks in May, June and July. Details on applying and a look back at reality TV winners with JDs, after the jump.
Nathan Sawaya went to the trouble of getting a law degree, but now he’s making a living with a skill he mastered in kindergarten.
Instead of building cases these days, Sawaya is building large-scale sculptures out of LEGOs. He’s been a LEGO fanatic since he got his first set at 5 years old. He told Image Magazine that while at NYU Law, rather than using his law school desk for studying, he used it for building a LEGO replica of Greenwich Village.
Despite spending his law school days playing with blocks, he managed to score an offer from Winston & Strawn.
Six years ago, though, he won a contest at Toys R’ Us and left the firm to take a $30,000 job as a builder at LEGOland. That batsh*t crazy decision has actually turned out well for Sawaya, 36, if you consider being a world-renowned LEGO artist to be a good thing.
New Yorkers can now check out his work at Agora Gallery in Chelsea. “Brick by Brick: The Lego Brick Sculpture of Nathan Sawaya” opens today.
What might you see beyond a man-size Blackberry (with a built-in flat screen TV)? Here are some examples of Sawaya’s “art”:
Will Meyerhofer was your typical high-achieving Biglaw associate. He went to law school because he didn’t know what else to do with his Harvard English degree. He graduated from NYU Law in 1997 and went to work for Sullivan & Cromwell in New York.
“I did my part in destroying the nation’s economy,” he told us. After two years doing securities and M&A work — working for clients like AIG and Goldman — he decided to leave Biglaw, and become a psychotherapist. “Law fundamentally shaped me. It made me ask important questions that led me to therapy.”
He’s certainly not the first Biglaw attorney forced into therapy…
It wasn’t a huge leap for him. His mother and brother are social workers, and his dad was a therapist — he died when Meyerhofer was a teenager. His life insurance policy paid for law school, leaving Meyerhofer blessed with no law school debt, though “he would have preferred to have had Dad.” After a brief detour into business, working as a marketing executive at BarnesandNoble.com, he started taking classes in social work, getting his MSW from Hunter College in 2004.
Even at Sullivan & Cromwell, he had become an unofficial therapist. When working late on deals, colleagues would come into his office, close the door, and seek advice for stress, difficult relationships, and strained marriages. These days, his sessions are somewhat more formal. He has over 60 patients who come to individual and group sessions at his Financial District apartment, A Quiet Room. He has a sliding scale for payment, ranging from $10/hour for a 19-year-old to $200/hour for Wall Street types. “Therapy should be there when you need it, not when you can afford it,” he said.
He blogs about his work at The People’s Therapist, though he goes to great lengths to disguise the identities of his clients, obscuring details and switching their gender and sexual orientations.
Given his insight into the world of law and lawyers, we asked him to psychoanalyze you. Find out why lawyers are bad at therapy, why law firms are toxic environments, and why our comments section can be such a nasty place, after the jump.
Over the weekend — yes, we often publish over the weekend, so do check in with us — we wrote about the happy story of Jeffrey Fenster. Fenster, a 29-year-old lawyer who previously worked for a short time at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, was recently selected by Governor David Paterson to serve as executive director of the Workers’ Compensation Board of New York State.
In the comments, a number of you wondered how Fenster landed this gig, despite what one former board commissioner described as “absolutely no administrative experience” and “no experience in workers’ comp or labor law.” One commenter speculated that Fenster might have been helped by Martin Minkowitz, a retired Stroock partner and expert in workers’ compensation law (which is what the New York Times hinted at).
As it turns out, it appears that Fenster was helped by connections — but not through Stroock or Marty Minkowitz.
Some lawyers love what they do. Those who don’t are vocal about how much they hate their jobs. So what would the naysayers prefer to be doing professionally? Above the Law editors have heard these “dream careers” tossed around: government intelligence analyst, writer/journalist, banker (so they can keep making the bank), and — for those who want to stay in the law, but not Biglaw — assistant U.S. attorney, judge, or law school professor.
Some people are content to stay in the law but need a creative/fun outlet. It’s an added bonus if that outlet also makes money. One such endeavor is to open a restaurant. (The belief that most restaurants fail in the first year is a myth, after all.)
We’ve written before about lawyer-turned-Subway entrepreneur Larry Feldman. But being king of a sandwich-shop franchise is not really the glamorous side of food service. The daydream version involves starting up a place with a bit more character.
For some, being laid off has been a push to tap into a culinary side. Here in New York, a first-year associate caught up in law firm layoffs used the opportunity to open a Taiwanese steamed bun cafe in the Lower East Side, called Baohaus.
Further south, in Washington, D.C., another casualty of the recession layoffs got into the eat-out business. Julie Liu, a former Katten Muchin associate, launched a restaurant in Dupont Circle last year named Scion. She was very thankful to Katten for her three-month severance: it “basically paid for Scion’s kitchen equipment.”
We caught up with Liu about opening a restaurant with her sister, and got some advice for other wannabe restaurateurs.
We’re doing a little catch-up blogging this weekend, covering some stories we meant to cover during the week but didn’t get around to hitting. E.g., the update on Loren Friedman, a former Lawyer of the Day who doctored his law school transcript.
This post is a happier one. It’s about a lawyer at a big firm who managed to land an interesting and high-profile government post.
Laid-off lawyers, recent law school graduates, and Biglaw attorneys seeking greater job security are flocking towards positions in federal and state government. As a result, government gigs are very difficult to land these days, with hundreds of applicants applying for a single posting on USAJOBS.
But as shown by the story of Jeffrey Fenster, a former Stroock associate who was picked earlier this month to head up the Workers’ Compensation Board of New York State, getting a government job is not impossible.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
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