Career alternatives for attorneys

If you’ve ever been in a bookstore (and we hope that you have), you’ve seen the ubiquitous red Zagat guides, often situated right next to the checkout line to encourage impulse purchases. They’re wonderful resources for the restaurant-obsessed (note my avoidance of the f-word). The Zagat guides compile thousands upon thousands of user-generated reviews and distill them into clear, concise, often clever capsule reviews of restaurants in top cities around the world.

Last year, Google purchased Zagat for between $100 million to $200 million. That’s a pretty nice chunk of change — especially for a pair of former lawyers.

Yes, Tim and Nina Zagat are attorneys. Let’s learn about how they got their start….

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In Stealth Lawyers, their excellent ongoing video series on career alternatives for attorneys, our friends at Bloomberg Law have covered the range of human needs. They’ve written about lawyers who help us eat, drink, and laugh. Is there really more to life than that?

As a matter of fact, there is. It’s important that you smell good while doing all these things.

Bloomberg has you covered. In today’s installment, they profile a prosecutor turned perfumer. Before he switched careers, he saved up a lot of money….

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‘…to take a survey (if you’re a non-practicing lawyer).’

You almost never hear of someone enduring the rigors of med school, becoming a doctor, practicing medicine for a few years, and then just ditching the profession altogether. The same could be said of licensed plumbers and electricians. Yet lapsed lawyers are everywhere: making chocolate, writing novels, blogging, leading the free world, whatever.

Obviously, there are myriad reasons for leaving the profession. Some ex- (or “recovering”) lawyers were nudged out or fired, while others left of their own free will to follow their muses onto different career paths. Some simply hated being a lawyer. Some hated the clients (e.g., “[W]hat do I care about some stranger let alone his problems?” — Columbia Law grad turned soldier-of-fortune Denis Clifford).

Not everyone buys into the idea that a law degree is so versatile (hi, Elie), but some non-practicing JDs do find that that their legal training was great preparation for the next stage of their careers.

We are reaching out to lapsed lawyers to ask them their personal stories. Why did you choose the law in the first place? Why did you leave? What are you up to now? Looking back at your time practicing law, how would you describe your experience? And so forth.

Are you an ex-lawyer? Please click here to take our survey and share your experiences. This survey is the first in a series of research projects in partnership with our friends at AdamSmithEsq, where the Lapsed Lawyer survey will also be hosted.

Foraging: it’s not just for grizzly bears.

Last week, in the inaugural installment of our Career Alternatives video series with our friends at Bloomberg Law, we brought you the story of Lisa Granik, a lawyer turned “Master of Wine.” She’s living the dream, drinking and thinking and writing about wine for a living.

Well, how would you like some food to go with your wine? Today’s career alternative for attorneys: forager.

Forager? Does ordering something on Seamless count? Is Tristan Taylor Thomas looking for food in the trash again?

No, no. This foraged food gets eaten at one of America’s most acclaimed restaurants, by folks who pay hundreds of dollars for the privilege. And the forager, who graduated from a top law school, walked away from a high-powered legal career….

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Here at Above the Law, we regularly cover career alternatives for attorneys. For better or worse, there are not enough jobs in the practice of law to accommodate all holders of law degrees. So it’s helpful and even inspiring to our readers to showcase all the different and creative ways that lawyers are using their legal training in other endeavors.

Luckily for us, and for our readers interested in alternative career paths, our friends over at Bloomberg Law have been conducting wonderful weekly interviews with people they call “stealth lawyers” — individuals who, after either training or practicing as a lawyer, went on to find success in some other field.

Let’s meet a recent profile subject, a Georgetown and Yale law grad who left the practice and teaching of law for a very unique new niche. If you enjoy drinking boxes and boxes a glass of fine wine — and who doesn’t, really? — keep reading….

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Megyn Kelly

* Barack Obama will not be invited to party with the Supreme Court justices to celebrate his reelection — which is too bad, because from what we hear, they really know how to get down. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Here’s a protip that essentially comes straight from David Petraeus. You can add these to the list of crazy things that your jealous mistress will say to any other woman who so much as looks in your direction. [Althouse]

* “Is this just math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better?” Career alternative for this attorney: bludgeoning Karl Rove with witty election night insults for his failure to admit Obama won Ohio. [Daily Beast]

* Here’s a list of the five kinds of partners you’ll typically find in Biglaw. All you’ve got to do is find their weaknesses, and use them to your advantage. [Greedy Associates / FindLaw]

* In the days ahead, should law schools cut tuition or cut class size? Obviously the solution is to do a little from column A and a little from column B, but you know they’ll never budge on tuition. [PrawfsBlawg]

Mahbod Moghadam of Rap Genius

F. Scott Fitzgerald once opined that there were “no second acts in American lives.” Similarly, Biz Markie once opined “’cause we all pick our boogers sometime every day.” If you’re already lost, allow me to explain. This is the story of a former Biglaw attorney and his second act. He and his friends started a website devoted to rap lyrics. The website annotates rap lyrics, and it’s this system of annotation that the founders of the website hope will take over the web (including legal research). The website was recently funded by venture capitalists, and the resulting hype has ping-ponged across the web at a pace so rapid that you’d be excused if you made like Steinski and wondered, “What does it all mean?” (affiliate link).

The interviews that have fed the myriad profiles of the site’s founders have been nothing short of entertaining. Just last week, Gawker was prompted to write a guide to the site, rapgenius.com, which managed to sound both condescending and wildly equivocating and which did nothing but illuminate the author’s squeamishness. This promises to not be like that. I don’t know if Rap Genius is going to be Wikipedia or Pets.com.

What I do know is that a Biglaw dropout just ganked $15 million from Marc Andreessen and wants to edge out Westlaw and Lexis (good luck with that).

Keep reading to find out where he went to law school and what firm he worked at. And if you want to see his shirtless YouTube diss track (no homo)….

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There’s a lot of talk around these parts about the versatility — or lack thereof — of a law degree. In this kind of a legal job market, career services officers (and let’s face it, your own family) will continue to shout from the rooftops that you can do just about anything with a law degree.

That being said, while a J.D. degree won’t be of much help to you in, say, landscape architecture, it will be of great service to you if you’re able to land a writing gig on one of the most-watched legal dramedies on cable television.

How does one go from Biglaw to the front page of Funny or Die? Furthermore, how does one get a writer’s credit on a new hit series like The Newsroom? Let’s find out….

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Why don’t our Comment of the Week winners step forward to claim their prizes? It makes us really sad (especially since we have to wade through an entire week’s worth of posts to pick out the best comments). Come on, with starting salaries as low as $145K, you don’t exactly have to be a 47 Percenter to appreciate a free t-shirt.

All complaining aside, we hope that this week’s winner will email us to collect what he’s due, because his comparison between Biglaw and parenting was spot on….

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Behold the Monkey!

* Martin Bienenstock, Dewey’s former bankruptcy head, offered some free legal advice to the firm’s bankruptcy advisers: “[P]lease get real about the unfinished business claims.” [WSJ Law Blog]

* In other interesting Dewey news, you’re never going to guess what Steve DiCarmine’s been doing since the firm went under. He of the orange skin tone is making it work at Parsons. [Am Law Daily]

* Remember Kenechukwu Okoli, the guy who slapped a Paul Hastings partner in the face during a depo and then sued him for assault? Yup, that suit got dismissed. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* NerdWallet has created an online law school comparison tool, but users will only get to choose from 50 schools, none of which are in the so-called U.S. News second tier. Guess they don’t think Cooley is the second-best school in the country. How rude. [Bucks / New York Times]

* Cecilia Gimenez, the woman from Spain who accidentally turned a fresco of Christ into a portrait of a monkey, is now seeking royalties from funds the church levied as entrance fees to see her “work of art.” [Telegraph]

* Bridget Mary McCormack, a candidate for Michigan’s Supreme Court, has a simple tip for putting together the best judicial campaign video ever: all you need to do is reunite the cast of The West Wing. Check it out….

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