* “I think we have to be concerned that almost all of us are from two law schools.” Justice Clarence Thomas thinks that the Supreme Court bench ought to be more diverse. [New York Times]
* The DoJ expanded its recognition of gay marriage by adding six states to its roster of those newly entitled to federal benefits — now more than half the country. Yay! [Bloomberg]
* Former White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler has withdrawn from consideration as a nominee for Eric Holder’s job as AG. She and her shoe collection will remain at Latham. [WSJ Law Blog]
* [I]t’s profound that we have not made much progress on that front in the legal profession.” There’s still an income gap between men and women in the law, and it gets worse over time. [National Law Journal]
* Come sail away, come sail away, come parasail away with me. This former Biglaw associate found that life slaving away at a law firm wasn’t her paradise, so she decided to move to the beach. [Am Law Daily]
“Oh, you hate your job? Why didn’t you say so? There’s a support group for that. It’s called EVERYBODY and they meet at the bar.” – Drew Carey
You thought law school would be a good investment. “Even if I don’t become a lawyer,” you proudly announced, “I will have many, many options. A J.D., after all, is so valuable.” When staring down a crushing mountain of student loans, you signed on the dotted line. “Who can put a price on the doors a J.D. will open up for me?” If you knew this guy back then, you might have thought twice, but you didn’t.
Today, four, six, or ten years later, you spend late nights staring at your J.D. in its pristine frame, tears of rage streaming down your face. “Where are MY DOORS??” you scream at it, sobbing into your sea of briefs or closing sets or brown liquor. Instead of doors, why are there enormous walls and sets of handcuffs (and not the good kind)? Why is it that you hate every job opening you might qualify for? I mean, you got your J.D., and you’re a grown-up lawyer who brilliantly catches typos.
I’m eight years out of law school and many of my classmates – including some of the gunnerest of gunners – are now in industries like legal technology, legal practice products, deal consulting, and law firm professional development. A director at a global fashion house in Latin America. A professional poker player. And my favorite: founding a service for renting gentlemen.
So how do you get from here to there? How does a lawyer really stop being a practicing lawyer?
We recently reminded our readers about the deadlines for various federal-government honors programs (including but not limited to the DOJ Honors Program). In case you missed those deadlines, though, here’s another option for entering government service….
Last year, St. Martin’s Press published The Partner Track, the debut novel of lawyer Helen Wan. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, I praised the book for being engaging, suspenseful, and — unlike so many legal novels — realistic. The paperback edition of The Partner Track became available last week.
I enjoy fiction about lawyers, as both a reader and writer — my own firstnovel comes out in a few weeks — and I’m deeply interested in how other writers work. So I interviewed Helen Wan about her book, her approach to writing, and how she managed to write a novel while holding down a demanding job as an in-house lawyer for Time Warner. I also asked for her advice on how women and minority lawyers can succeed in Biglaw.
Here’s a (lightly edited and condensed) write-up of our conversation.
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?
Despite surveys showing that being a law firm associate is the unhappiest job in America, we know a fair number of happy lawyers. We don’t tend to write about them very much — we like our stories to have a little more bite or edge around here — but there is such a thing as a happy lawyer (affiliate link).
Still, there’s no denying that the stereotype of the miserable lawyer has some truth to it — and that, after a while, some of these lawyers leave the legal profession. Most people who go to medical school end up practicing medicine for the long haul; many people who go to law school end up doing something different after a while.
If you’re thinking of leaving the law, what should you do?
Dr. N. Robert Riordan is a graduate of NYU School of Law and a former U.S. securities attorney for London- and Sydney-based Herbert Smith Freehills. After 10 years of practice in New York, London and Rome, he made the switch from corporate law to private practice as a clinical psychologist. Dr. Riordan now acts as a therapist to dozens of NYC attorneys. The following is the second of a two-part interview with Dr. Riordan. (You can read the first part here.)
ATL: In addition to professionals like attorneys, whom do you see in your private practice?
The remainder of my practice focuses on couples. I work with two distinct types of couples. First, I see couples whose romantic relationships are in crisis. The goal here is to improve their bond to one another. I happen to see many couples where both parties are professionals, and, most often, each member of the couple is struggling to balance personal and professional demands.
ATL: I would imagine that couples come to treatment for a variety of reasons.
I work with many couples whose connection to one another has been strained by things like demanding careers, childrearing, or an unexpected financial hardship. These couples are looking to recapture the connection that originally brought them together and to start working as a partnership again. Also I work with a handful of couples who are facing specific challenges, like infidelity or the loss of a child.
ATL: Has your training as an attorney prepared you for the conflicts that presumably arise in couples’ therapy?
* The D.C. Circuit struck down a key component of Obamacare while a few miles away, the Fourth Circuit disagreed. This sets up an intriguing circuit split that will be resolved as soon as the D.C. Circuit takes it up en banc. Until then though, let the mainstream media talking heads freak out about what this all means. [NBC News]
* Professor Thane Rosenbaum writes in the Wall Street Journal (natch!) defending the deaths of civilian Palestinians using the same logic that Osama bin Laden used to justify 9/11. He probably should have done a little more research. [Slate]
* Amelia Boone, a Skadden Chicago bankruptcy associate, is a world champion Tough Mudder and Spartan Race runner. Because who says cruelly abusing yourself has to be limited to the work week? [Outside]
As part of a nationwide tour, Above the Law is coming to the great city of Chicago.
Join preeminent law firm management consultant Bruce MacEwen, Katten Muchin Chicago managing partner Gil Sofer, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. assistant general counsel Jason Shaffer for a panel discussion (sponsored by Pangea3) on the evolutionary and market forces bearing down on the law firm business model. Come on by Thursday, November 20, at 6 p.m., for thought-provoking discussion, food, drink, and networking.
Space is limited and there will be no on-site registration, so please RSVP
Average law school debt for graduates of private universities hovered around $122,000 last year. With only 57% of new attorneys actually obtaining real lawyer jobs, recent graduates have a lot to consider when it comes to managing their student loan payments. Thanks to our friends at SoFi, today’s infographic takes a look at student loan debt, including the possible benefits of refinancing for JDs…
Kinney Recruiting’sEvan Jowers is currently in Hong Kong for client meetings and still has a few slots available through October 22. Evan will also be in Hong Kong November 14 to December 15. Further, Robert Kinney has been in Frankfurt and Munich this week and is available for meetings with our Germany based readers.
One of our key law firm clients has referred us to one of their important clients in the US, Europe and China – a leading global technology supplier for the auto industry – in order to handle their search for a new Asia General Counsel and Asia Chief Compliance Officer.
Kinney is exclusively handling this in-house search.
This position will have a lot of responsibility and include supervision of eight attorneys underneath them in the Asia in-house team. The new hire will report directly to the global general counsel and global chief compliance officer, who is based in the US. The new hire’s ability to make judgement calls is going to be as important as their technical skill set background.
The position is based in Shanghai and will deal with the company’s operations all over Asia and also in India, including frequent acquisitions in the region.
It is expected that the new hire will come from a top US firm’s Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offices, currently in a top flight corporate practice at the senior associate, counsel or partner level. Of course, the candidate can be currently in a relevant in-house role.