Don’t Miss the Next First Thursdays Event…
Are you tired of the same ole’ beer options and that home brewing experiment didn’t work out so well? Join us on March 5 th for the next Young Lawyers Connect First Thursdays Event- New York Beer at the New York City Bar . Mingle with other young professionals and enjoy light hors d'oeuvres, while tasting the finest beer New York has to offer. Featuring Brewery Ommegang, Brooklyn Brewery, Coney Island Lager, Harlem Brewing Company, Kelso of Brooklyn, He’Brew, the Chosen Beer, Lake Placid Craft Brewing, and Olde Saratoga Brewing Company. Register Today .
First Thursdays Series
New York Beer at the New York City Bar
Thursday, March 5, 2009 6:30-8:30 pm
Thursday, April 2, 2009 6:30-8:30pm
Thank you to our First Thursdays Sponsors: ClearChannel, New York Law Journal, Vault
View the 2009 Professional Development Workshop Series Brochure
Join the New York City Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Connect LinkedIn Group
Introducing the City Bar’s Career Counselor Referral Program
LAWYERS CAN HAVE AN EDGE IN NON-LEGAL JOBS:
Tips On Selling Yourself When the Job Doesn’t Require a JD
by Kate Scurria Neville, Esq.
People go to law school for all kinds of reasons. Some are attracted to roles portrayed on programs such as The Practice, Ally McBeal, or—for those of a certain age--LA Law, which of course do not show the long hours required to research the law, review materials, and draft documents, that we all know is necessary. Others go because they are good at school and aren’t sure what else to do, often based on the premise that a law degree will “keep their options open.”
Even for students who enter law school with some experience related to legal work, it is difficult to know what practicing law is like until doing it as a member of the workforce. In addition, few law students take the initiative while in school to research the range of career paths attorneys ultimately pursue, particularly as their student debt mounts.
Considering these factors, it should come as no surprise that surveys continue to report that a majority of lawyers are unhappy in their careers. Many attorneys discover that the practice of law is not for them. While this realization can be personally and professionally difficult—it takes a great deal of time, money and effort to become a licensed attorney-- it can also provide an opportunity for some of the brightest people around to use their talents in a way that advances both their interests and those of their employers.
Particularly in the current economy, more attorneys are making an effort to “cast a broad net” and pursue positions in a range of professional areas, not necessarily practicing law. To make progress going down that road, however, you need to think about how you can sell yourself to employers, avoid being “pigeon-holed” into applying only for jobs in the legal counsel’s office, and apply your skills when the job does not require a J.D.
Many lawyers who effectively represent their clients have a much harder time making the case for themselves. To convince an employer to hire you in a non-legal job, however, requires just that.
Advantages to Emphasize and Potential Disadvantages to Address
When Applying for Non-Legal Jobs
The advantages and disadvantages of hiring someone with a JD of course depend on what is required in the non-legal job and the specific experience, skills and temperament of the individual attorney. Some lawyers have training as engineers, some are great at statistical and financial analysis, many are very comfortable presenting to sophisticated audiences, others are great at facilitating groups and reaching consensus, and some bring in-depth knowledge of an industry or issue that can advance the interests of an organization.
Though difficult to generalize, the following are some advantages and disadvantages frequently cited from the employer’s perspective.
Advantages to Articulate
Potential Disadvantages to Address
Be prepared to answer persuasively:
Jobs That Tend to Be Great Fits for JDs
Since people with a wide range of backgrounds and personal strengths choose to pursue law degrees, many careers prove to be a good fit for former lawyers. Attorneys go on to be successful in jobs as varied as CEO’s, professional chefs, journalists, novelists, actors, and social workers. What follows are some examples of professions that tend to be an easier transition and a fit for those with legal training.
Careers That Tend to Fit the Skill Set But Don’t Require a JD
Issues That Former Lawyers Often Encounter in New Fields
Leaving the practice of law is a big decision because—other than those who are particularly well connected—the vast majority of lawyers who stop practicing find it almost impossible to get hired in a legal position later in their careers. While most attorneys who leave the law are glad to be free of it, a substantial number of them miss having peers with whom they can commiserate. Even if you can get a non-legal job, taking the time to investigate and evaluate the pros and cons in advance proves to be a valuable investment in your career.
About Kate Neville
Kate Scurria Nevilleis a former practicing attorney and the founder of Neville Career Consulting, LLC, which serves individual attorneys who are considering a professional transition, whether within the practice of law or to another field. Kate can be reached at email@example.com.
Finding a Job in a Down Economy
March 9, 6-8 pm
Professional Development Workshop: Managing Effective Legal Teams
Mar 12, 8:30-10 am
Effective Technology for the Small Law FirmMar 19, 12:30-2 pm
Becoming an Assistant United States Attorney…
Mar 23, 6-8 pm
On-Line Social Networking for Lawyers
Mar 24, 6 pm
Career Resources: Making Your Exit from the Law
Mar 31, 6-8 pm
Ask the Experts
Q: I was admitted to practice in 2000 and have been practicing a blend of securities and life insurance law since that time (both in a firm and in-house). I would like to go solo but have little-to-no experience in areas of law, such as real estate and wills and trusts, that I anticipate would provide stable billables. What\'s the best way to acquire such skills and make the transition? Should I enroll in an estate-planningcertificate program at NYU? Should I try to intern at a firm that does residential real estate law? Thank you
A : Congratulations on your decision to start your own practice. As you further evaluate your options you should try to determine what practice area(s) you intend to focus on. Are you planning to continue your work in the fields of securities and life insurance law and are only looking to other areas to "fill in" the gap in billables as you build up enough business, or are you trying to change your areas of concentration completely? If you seek to do some really basic real estate and wills and estates work I suggest you consider the following steps:
1. Take the basic CLE seminars in these practice areas;
2. Participate in a pro bono training, join a pro bono clinic or take on a case. This will allow you not only to get exposure to the legal topics but also to "get your feet wet" with real cases.
If you seek to completely change your practice areas, however, and acquire in-depth knowledge and experience in real estate and trust and estates law, you should consider pursuing a more serious course of study and try to find a mentor who would guide you in this process. You may also consider joining a committee at the New York City Bar Association or other organization which specializes in your area of interest.
Visit http://www.nycbar.org/lawyers-connect/lawyers-connect-overview to start taking advantage of everything Young Lawyers Connect has to offer.