Career Alternatives

Ed Sohn

“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?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “alt.legal: Can A Lawyer Change His Or Her (Pin)stripes?”

Working at a major law firm can be great — it’s profitable, it’s prestigious, and for some people, it’s fun. But it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

Some people view working in Biglaw like eating a bucket of cockroaches. Some people would rather be farming.

And still others would rather get paid to drink beer — which brings us to today’s departure memo, from an associate who left a leading law firm to work in a brewery. No, seriously….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Departure Memo Of The Day: A Beery Farewell”

We are very service-oriented here at Above the Law. Given the depressing realities of the legal job market, one service we provide is alerting our readers to job opportunities.

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….

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It’s a nice contrast to practicing law. We’re making people happy. There’s nothing adversarial about baking.

Yael Krigman of Baked by Yael, a curator of cake pops who ships her goods nationwide. Krigman is a graduate of George Washington Law, who went on to work at White & Case before opening her baking business.

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 first novel 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.

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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?

Continue Reading At The ATL Career Center…

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?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Thinking Of Leaving The Law? Here Are Some Resources”

Dr. N. Robert Riordan

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?

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* 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]

* Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s senior picture from Cornell. [That's What She Said / Jezebel]

* Elie thinks we should all get drunk and go for a bike ride! [ATL Redline]

* From purveyor of justice to purveyor of donuts. [USA Today]

* Congratulations to Professor Mariano-Florentino Cuellar of Stanford Law on his nomination to the California Supreme Court. If confirmed, maybe Stanford can start advertising about all the state judges they’ve produced. [San Jose Mercury News]

* We’ve heard that Bingham is looking to merge. Lee Pacchia talks to Casey Sullivan about what’s next. Video after the jump… [Mimesis Law]

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Listen to Bill Alverson and this tiara could be yours.

Small-firm lawyer Bill Alverson doesn’t show up on the first page of Google if you search for “lawyer in Andalusia, Alabama,” where Alverson’s firm is based. Which might be a problem for a lawyer relying on Google to generate clients.  After all, Andalusia has a population of only 9,078, so if you can’t make it onto the first page of Google there, can you make it anywhere?

But Alverson needn’t worry because his law practice isn’t an all-encompassing jealous mistress. Instead, Alverson has another kind of mistress on the side of his day job at his small father/son firm, Alverson & Alverson — dozens of them, really. As noted in this past weekend’s New York Times magazine (and today’s Quote of the Day), aspiring beauty queens retain Alverson to coach them to victory at state and national pageants.

Turns out, working with statutes and the statuesque have more in common than one might think….

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