ATL Career Center

Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Ariel Salzer offers advice to overwhelmed law students.

When I tell students that I took almost every Saturday off during my first semester of law school and still did well, their incredulity is palpable. It’s not because this is some huge, amazing accomplishment on my part, because it’s not. It’s one day off! I think it’s because, as law students, we are indoctrinated to believe that we need to study all the time. A minute off is a minute wasted. It’s one more opportunity for our classmates to lunge ahead in the great race.

In other grad school programs, doing something like taking a day off each week (gasp!) would not be considered teetering on the brink of insanity. For some reason, though, the minute we get those crisp acceptance letters, buy those books that cost half our rent money, and buckle down to get As at all costs, our common sense tends to go out the window.

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Megan Grandinetti challenges busy lawyers to practice positivity.

A few years ago, I was buried in work and traveling for business. I ran into a friend of mine on a train in Philly, and he spent the next hour listening to (a) how many hours I worked, (b) how much I hated what I was working on, and (c) how the people at my Biglaw firm had zero regard for my personal life (wait a second, WHAT personal life?). I remember being fairly detached and casual as I was talking about all of this (I did NOT burst into tears, per usual), but years later, my friend told me that after that conversation, he had put me on “suicide watch.”

About a year after the suicide watch train incident, I realized that I had become a person that I didn’t recognize: a whiny, angry, sad person who only saw the negative in everything. I decided to do a 40-day challenge, during which I gave up complaining. That’s right, I stopped complaining for 40 days.

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Ed note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Rob Jordan explores how good use of technology can help busy lawyers process large amounts of information.

To have a better legal career, attorneys — including those who are uncertain about their future prospectsneed to focus on more than just lawyering and have an eye towards networking and business development. Networking and business development, unfortunately, require a lot of hard work and time. So, efficiency matters. Optimize your time and you’ll have bonus minutes to spend fortifying your career.

Previously, I suggested a number of easy, low-maintenance media outlets that could help lawyers (and bankers) be informed and “interesting” and, by extension, be better networkers. Having access to relevant information is one thing, but creating a system for efficiently processing the mass quantities of information currently available to you is just as critical. It’s also necessary to avoid feeling inundated and overwhelmed. Here is my simple system for streamlining information – all through the use of mobile – in a manner that keeps me organized and informed without triggering the Problem of Choice.

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Ed note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Casey Berman gives some advice to unhappy attorneys.

For so long, we were normal. Ever since we could remember, we got good grades. We did well at our extracurricular activities. We had energy, independence, ambition, goals.

We happily did what we were told. We pleased most everyone. We were liked. We moved through life at a nice clip. We had a plan.

And now as practicing attorneys … well … this isn’t always the case. Just like that, we’re kind of now the odd ones out.

We’re not ourselves. Our confidence as an attorney, and as a person, is lacking. Our direction seems off. Our sense of hope is not strong. We may even feel desperate. We’re down.

We’re going a little crazy.

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Kate McGuinness writes about the different “selves” all lawyers can find within throughout their careers.

I have several different selves rattling around inside. No, I’m not suggesting multiple personality disorder. I’m alluding to the varied interests and aptitudes that have led to different careers over time.

My nurturing, playful self became an elementary school teacher. She was followed by the brainy, kick-ass self who became a lawyer. Then the creative, reclusive self came forward to write my legal thriller Terminal Ambition (affiliate link). Now the compassionate, wise self is stepping up as a coach to guide clients through growth and change.

Just as Harry Potter discovered that he had a “good self” and a “bad self,” each of us has many selves.

A lawyer may be hiding a self who longs for deeper connection with others and a helping role as a therapist as well as another self who longs to be an academic and another self who longs to be a chef.

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Ed note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Alison Monahan provides some advice for optimizing your law school grades.

It’s a fresh semester, a new year, and you’ve resolved to get better law school grades. Great! How are you going to do that? If you’re like most people, you resolve to “work harder.”

For a few days, or maybe even a couple of weeks, you spend extra time in the library, making sure you’re well-prepared for class and don’t fall behind on the reading. Inevitably, however, things get in the way and you start slipping. Maybe your favorite TV show is on, or a big ball game, and your study time gradually drifts back to about what it was before.

There’s nothing really wrong with this approach, except for the fact that it’s unlikely to improve your outcome. What will improve your results is a new approach — iteration.

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The statistics don’t lie. There is approximately a 50/50 split between men and women who graduate from law school and obtain entry-level associate positions at firms. However, many more women end up leaving after a few years and either never return to the firm environment or return to practicing law at all. We can point to a myriad of reasons, both personal to each woman and systemic of the general firm structure, but the bottom line is that women lawyers are a group that could use assistance in getting back into law.

Enter the OnRamp Fellowship. Founded by Caren Ulrich Stacey, the Fellowship is a re-entry platform that allows experienced, talented lawyers to return to the work force through a one-year, paid training contract. This platform allows lawyers to renew and increase their legal skills, while getting a resume boost that will help transition them to the next position at the same or different law firm. The Fellowship also provides lawyers with the opportunity to make valuable networking contacts and obtain professional references.

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Ed note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Ann K. Levine, a law school admission consultant and owner of LawSchoolExpert.com, offers helpful tips on proper decorum for recruiting events.

‘Tis the season for LSAC Recruitment Forums and on-campus law school fairs. These are great opportunities for law schools to recruit applicants, but they can also be great opportunities for law school applicants to get a jump up on the competition. Here are some things you can do when interacting with law schools at recruiting events:

    1. Do your research ahead of time. Know which schools you hope to target and have specific questions ready. Great questions include how to arrange a campus visit, how many students specialize in an area that you are interested in (some interest/faculty support is good, too much competition is not so good), the attrition rate (how many people transfer versus stay at the school after the first year), and other information that you may not be able to find so easily on the school website. Stay away from things that should be obvious from the website like median LSAT scores, etc.

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Adam R. Banner explains how the bar exam is a microcosm for legal practice as a whole.

Just took your state’s bar exam? Good Luck.

I remember hearing that same ominous warning from many of the attorneys in my community directly after taking the Oklahoma bar exam. Now, I wasn’t TOO worried about my prospects for future employment. I was already set on hanging my own shingle, and I was full of naivety with a dash of piss and vinegar. I had practiced (with a limited license) through the local public defender’s office, and I had a part-time gig interning for another solo practitioner. I chose this set-up to help pay my way through school, but also to gain any type of experience I could since I only really knew two things in law school: criminal procedure, and the fact that I needed some courtroom experience and some small-business guidance. I was lucky enough to get both.

That isn’t the case for everyone. I distinctly remember one of my buddies (a fellow class mate) walking up to me a few days before graduation and asking me if I knew of any places that were hiring associates. I didn’t, so I asked him if he was interning anywhere.

He wasn’t.

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Sunny Choi of Ms. JD interviews lawyers who have found their passion by leaving the law.

What if you could have the best of both worlds? Not being a lawyer, exactly, but being in a professional position that still takes advantage of your lawyerly inclinations and skills. For the final part of my “Finding Your Passion” series, I hope that you will feel inspired by the people below to search for that niche, if your current practice hasn’t been feeling right and leaving you a little half empty. There has got to be a full glass somewhere.

SONYA MAYS (Detroit, MI)
1. What is your current job? And what type of field or industry?

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