Career alternatives for attorneys

For those who are brilliant (and lucky) enough to get hired, being a law professor is a great job. You get to write and teach about interesting subjects. You get the summers off — yes, we know you have articles to work on, but you have total flexibility about your hours and location. You get to be a public intellectual, writing for newspaper op-ed pages and magazines. And you get paid well, too.

If you have an unusual personality, don’t sweat it. Legal academia is welcoming to sociopaths. And sadists, too.

If you enjoy inflicting pain on others, being a law prof is a great gig. Using the Socratic Method, you get to torture 1Ls — and many of them will eat it up. As a law professor, the winner of multiple teaching awards, once told me, “The students like it when you’re a hard-ass; they like to be challenged.”

Many law students don’t mind verbal victimization, but they’d probably draw the line at physical contact. Which brings us to a high-profile law professor who goes around sticking needles in people….

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Many moons ago, around this time of year, I worked as a summer associate at Wachtell Lipton. I enjoyed many a fine meal that summer (although Wachtell’s program is more work-focused and less lunch-focused than many others). One of my favorite occasions was a dinner at Jean-Georges with partner Karen Krueger, her husband, myself, and a girlfriend of mine.

Oh how times have changed. It’s rare to see partners leave the gilded cage of Wachtell Lipton, where annual profits per partner regularly exceed $4 million. But Krueger had the guts to make the jump. She left the practice of law and now works as a nationally certified teacher of the Alexander Technique.

What is the Alexander Technique? If you suffer from pain, perhaps as a result of your stressful law firm job, it could be your salvation. And it might help you with your poker game, too….

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When was the last long trip you took? For many of you, especially those of you who work at law firms, it might have been you post-bar-exam trip or your honeymoon. But it was probably a really long time ago.

How would you like to go on a trip that never ends? How would you like to leave your office behind and visit different countries, learning about different cultures and expressing yourself along the way?

If you have a camera and a laptop, you might be able to turn this dream into a reality….

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It’s just nice clothing. There’s nothing to be afraid of.

Are you afraid of fashion? You’re not alone.

Many male lawyers would rather not deal with picking clothes. These attorneys can negotiate billion-dollar deals or address juries without fear, but the concept of “business casual” fills them with terror.

If you count yourself among the fashion-impaired — or if you see yourself as stylish, but in need of a wardrobe expansion — here are two lawyers who can help….

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The West Wing, one of television’s most celebrated dramas, ended its run six years ago this month. But in the hearts of many lawyers, the West Wing lives on, as the stuff of dreams.

Working in the West Wing of the White House — in proximity to the President of the United States, on the most important issues of the day — is why many people go to law school. [FN1] But the vast majority of them never come close to making that dream a reality.

How can you land a job in the West Wing? Here’s the story of how one lawyer did it. And she didn’t even have to toil that long in the Biglaw salt mine….

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Rock concerts are more fun than closings.

A fair number of lawyers or law school graduates work in creative fields. Over the years, “recovering lawyers” have worked as writers, actors, and even painters (such as Henri Matisse and Wassily Kandinsky).

But you won’t find many lawyers who are rock stars — and I’m not talking about tax or securities law “rock stars,” but actual, literal rock stars. The free-association creativity needed to make music goes against the inside-the-box thinking prized in the legal profession. Music also involves math, and we all know that lawyers — even lawyers for the IRS — are “not good at math.”

There are, however, exceptions to every rule. A few folks with legal training have entered the music world — including Julio Iglesias, Rubén Blades, and today’s “stealth lawyer,” an attorney turned rock star….

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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, in the fifth of five related articles, Casey Berman, founder of Leave Law Behind, a blog and community that focuses on helping unhappy attorneys leave the law, discusses the fifth step attorneys can take to leave the law. Previous articles in this series can be found here, here, here, and here.

As we discussed in the first four articles of this series, through Leave Law Behind, I work with many intelligent attorneys who nonetheless are unhappy and want to leave the law behind and do something else. They want to change their life and their work and their focus with the goal to be more satisfied, more confident, and happier.

I tell them the first step in leaving the law behind involves getting a handle on their money situation; to become as confident and exact as possible in understanding (i) their expenses, as well as any (ii) safety net and other sources of financial support they can call upon if needed….

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Over the years, I’ve met a fair number of ministers who have become lawyers and lawyers who have become ministers. Maybe this shouldn’t be surprising, given the commonalities between law and organized religion. Both fields are built around rules, give great weight to precedents and higher authorities, involve age-old institutions, and are generally dominated by men.

So maybe it’s not shocking to hear about someone who went from being a Biglaw partner to a minister and university chaplain. But it’s still quite interesting and unusual.

Let’s learn how one lawyer went from working for The Man to working for The Man — Upstairs….

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We know how much our readers enjoy greeting cards. Our annual holiday card contest here at Above the Law is one of our site’s most popular (and positive) features.

But what about cards for other occasions? So many of them are clichéd or lame. And the number of events that they speak to is definitely underinclusive.

A former Biglaw associate is here to help….

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Do you know the difference between a delicatessen and an appetizing shop?

No? Well, today’s stealth lawyer can tell you all about it. He’s a Georgetown Law grad who walked away from litigating to take over the family business, founded by his grandfather, and in the process kept a Lower East Side mainstay successfully rolling into the next generation….

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