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The Practice of Law: To Stay or Go

by A. Harrison Barnes on August 4, 2015

Should I stay or should I go? I found myself asking this very question at a very early stage in my legal career. If you are reading this, I assume you are also pondering whether or not you should stay in the legal profession. This is a serious question and you should research it as much as possible before making the decision. Approach the question as you would any legal issue: be objective and reserve judgment until after getting all the facts. Make sure to make a decision that honestly reflects your feelings, because it is most likely going to be a decision that will permanently affect the rest of your life. For this decision process, you should consider a variety of factors, many of which will be discussed in this article. albion gold If you do decide to stick with the profession but believe your current situation is not ideal, I suggest using the BCG job analysis tool to figure out if something else might be a better fit. Why I chose to take a “hiatus” from the profession? Like all attorneys, I worked hard during law school in order to work for the best firm in my practice area. I succeeded and received an offer in my third year of law school to work with a top IP firm. A month into my career at the firm, I found out I passed the California Bar Exam on my first try and was even asked to be a grader for it. I felt invincible. I was working at a prestigious firm and, at age 25, I was making more money than both of my parents combined. in fact, I was making more money than most people supporting families do. I was the envy of my college (and even some law school) friends. Like most naïve starting attorneys, I thought I was set for life. For various reasons, the firm was not a good fit and I started looking elsewhere. Unfortunately, my practice area was, and still is, very slow. Consequently, it was not feasible to find a comparable position in another firm because there simply were not any openings. In order to continue practicing as a lawyer, I found I would have had to change practice areas and I started applying to positions and firms that I would not normally have considered. As I interviewed, I realized more and more that I was pushing myself to do something that I did not have a passion for. I was too young to push myself into a career I did not want to go into with full force. cheap albion silver While I was still interviewing for positions as an attorney, I spoke to my recruiter at BCG and discussed my concerns about continuing with the profession. My recruiter, like most BCG recruiters, was a former attorney for a large firm and had the same concerns about the profession that I had. In response, my recruiter offered me a position with BCG, and at first I laughed at it. I thought it was a very sweet gesture, but surely I couldn’t “downgrade” my profession after working so hard. Over the next couple of months, I thought about it and, as you can see, I took a chance and am now far happier than I ever would have been practicing as an attorney. Before making the decision to jump ship and enter another profession, I considered the following: My motivation in going to law school Like many who end up in law school, I went for some of the most absurd reasons. Essentially, the final decision was made by a process of elimination: I did not want to be in the medical profession, getting a PhD took too long, I had no interest in going to business school…What does that leave? Law school. buy albion silver Hey, why not? I liked philosophy and my dad told me I would meet a good husband in law school and it would open me to more opportunities. While the former didn’t hold true, he was right about the latter. fjallraven kanken classic 16 L If it were not for law school, I would not have the opportunity to be working at BCG. I’ve interviewed countless other attorneys and have found that those who had a legitimate reason for going to law school are much more likely to enjoy practicing law. If you were someone who: (1) went to law school wanting to be a lawyer, (2) has a close relative (usually a parent) who is a lawyer and knew what you were getting into, (3) has an interest in politics, and/or (4) wanted to change current law, then you are probably in the right profession. Of course, motivations can change after law school, but the overwhelming number of well-adjusted attorneys continue to find their work interesting and challenging because they have been working toward a goal for so long and still feel that they have more to accomplish in their field. If you started law school unsure of whether or not you wanted to accomplish anything as an attorney in the first place, the chances are low that the work will excite you. What motivates me? You need to be honest with yourself and find out what motivates you. buy albion gold While at work, see what stokes your fire. Is it money? Power? Prestige? Intellectually stimulating work? A desire to help people? Client contact? Giving back to society? Advancing the cause of justice? Persuasive writing? I found that money did not motivate me, but then again, I only have to support myself. Of course, everyone needs money and I would only work if I could make a certain amount, but it wasn’t my primary concern. More important to me was the need to feel independent and be respected by my peers and superiors, and I also need to be in a supportive environment. If you are considering other professions, talk to people in those fields and determine what drives those people and keeps them going back to work every day. Compare these findings to what motivates you. Do I identify with my professional peers? Do you find that your personality and drive are similar to those that you work with? Are the people you work with the type of people you would like to associate yourself with? Attorneys in a firm environment have to be able to work with each other every day. buy albion gold Whether it is receiving work from a partner or consulting a fellow associate, if there is no sense of camaraderie in these interactions, there is a low probability that they are something to look forward to everyday. This camaraderie usually stems from a shared sense of belonging and/or common goals, and not having anything in common can be a sign that maybe you are not cut out for the same kind of life as your professional peers. Matt Cain Jersey Judging by the hours most firms require their attorneys to put in, it is safe to assume that the attorneys in your firm are going to be a significant part of your life as long as you work there. While it is not necessary to be best pals with everyone, being able to get along with your co-workers can be very important in determining whether or not you are happy in the workplace. cheap albion gold While not having anything in common with them is a possible sign that you might consider another field, not being able to be civil with your co-workers may be a sign that you have to move firms. Firm cultures tend to run the gamut and the attitude of your current firm may not be the best fit for you. However, you should not necessarily take an unhappy situation to mean that you need to change careers. What viable alternatives do I have? If I did not get the opportunity to work with BCG, I likely would still be working as an attorney. I am very glad it worked out, though, because it has proven to be the right choice for me. Having an idea of what the next step could be if you do choose to leave law will be necessary for many people. The uncertainty that can arise from leaving something you have worked so hard to achieve for nothing in particular is a drastic step that may end up making you even unhappier. The remedy for that lies in finding a new career path that you believe will make you happier. This is really the one thing that should merit the most attention in this process. Without having something else in mind, there is more willingness to look back and regret – having something to look forward to changes that. While there are not as many opportunities for working as an attorney outside of a law firm as there were a few years ago under the bull market, corporations have a continual need for in-house representation, and the larger corporations can staff dozens of attorneys. In-house corporate work may end up being a lot like a law firm, and if the actual work is what you are trying to get away from, this is probably not the best option. If, however, the law firm environment is what you find stifling, in-house work tends to mean less hours and a less cut-throat atmosphere, but also can mean less compensation. Law school may be in your rear-view mirror, but, if the thought is not too painful, it is always possible to go back and teach. A strong mind for legal theory and a desire to mold the legal minds of tomorrow are what make a strong candidate for a professor. Excellent academic credentials certainly do not hurt, either. Summers off, less stress, and more time and resources available for research and publication are what make these positions so highly sought after. cheap albion gold Similarly, working in the public sector for the government or a public interest group may seem like a step down in terms of prestige, but it can mean more interesting work and a lot less stress. Careers that have absolutely nothing to do with the law are also a possibility, as a law degree is a lot more versatile than you might think. A legal education is welcome in almost any field, as it shows strong training in the ability to think analytically and it hones writing skills. Putting that training to use for something other than the law may seem abnormal, but there are thousands of working Americans with law degrees that have chosen other fields. Is it financially feasible to move professions? This is the biggest question when it comes to switching careers. Sure less stress, more fun, and less time spent at work all sound wonderful, but these things come at a cost and that cost can run up to 100K per year. Firms are traditionally some of the best compensating organizations in the world and very few other professions are going to pay six figures to start. Are you willing to sacrifice a very large chunk of your annual income for an opportunity to get away from it all? This question essentially comes down to what matters most to you. Nike Air Max 2016 Heren If you are truly unhappy working in a law firm, then there is plenty of incentive to take a pay cut. As another type of professional with a good education, you will most likely be able to make as much as you need, although that is always relative. Someone like me, who does not have a family counting on a large check from me, can take the plunge with very little concern for the money. Fjallraven Kanken Large

Others must consider salary first and foremost because of familial or other financial obligations. The age old question of whether to choose happiness or money will not be decided here, but both come with pros and cons, and it is up to you to decide which takes precedence. Do I need to be in a stable profession? How risk-averse am I? Some people are going to dive off a cliff as soon as the opportunity arises and others are afraid to walk out the front door without checking and double checking if they locked the bathroom window. In general, the legal industry is filled with people who are more likely to go back to the window for a second look than cliff dive. It is a common joke that the majority of graduates of the top law school ended up there because they had nothing better to do, but there is actually a bit of truth to it – many lawyers got into the profession simply because it is safe and respectable. These are the people that are the least likely to enjoy the work and probably the most in need of a change, yet the least willing to actually make one because it requires risk. I was able to jump off the cliff, but only because I had a net at the bottom. Leaving the legal industry would be a risk no matter what you are leaving it for, but having something to fall back on is comforting. fjallraven kanken sale With many of the top law firms closing their doors during this recession and firm stability becoming more abnormal, the legal industry is not the safe haven it used to be, so leaving the profession now may not be as impractical as it once was. What environment am I most comfortable in? I took a personality test to determine this. While the questions on those tests are usually leading (e.g. The question “Do you like work to come in at a slow pace or a busy pace?” is able to miraculously decipher whether you like to work in a relaxed or hectic atmosphere), they more or less get you to think about the questions that you might not otherwise consider in your job search. If you are unwilling to put your career in the hands of some internet technology, then feel free to consult us. My advice to attorneys in a slow practice area If you are in any of the following practice areas, you are an attorney in a slow practice area: corporate, M&A, IPO’s, project finance/capital markets, “soft” IP such as trademark and licensing, healthcare, environmental, telecommunications and some regions of commercial real estate. Because there is not much work in these practice areas, attorneys who would like to continue in the profession need to be flexible with the areas of law they practice in. If you are a corporate attorney who does not have any work, you need to think of alternatives to solidify your position within a firm. Many corporate attorneys are looking for positions as commercial litigators. Womens Nike Air Huarache This does not have to be a long term career change, but you must do it if you would like to continue in the profession. Nothing is forever and most careers take some strange turns. Who knows, it may benefit you in the end. Perhaps you will meet a contact that you would not have met as a corporate attorney and voila! You’ve got yourself a client. If your long term career goal is to be a partner for a major law firm, then you must stick out the downturn in the economy. For those who need to make a change in their practice area, I refer you to the BCG Candidate Resource Center. albion silver There you will find an article about changing your practice area. Please read this and feel free to contact one of BCG’s recruiters about whether it’s wise to change your practice area. Do your homework

  • Talk to your peers (law school classmates and/or co-workers), mentors, law school career counselors – anyone who can help shape your perspective and push you in the right direction. And of course, feel free to contact a BCG recruiter. air max It’s our job to offer you advice about your career.
  • Read about career changes and other ways to use a law degree – your law school career center or its bookstore likely has books on this subject.
  • Make a list of pros and cons for both staying and leaving the profession. Discuss this list with all who will be affected by your decision: your significant other, family, friends and whomever else you feel may be affected.

When the decision is made, question it before you act on it

One more thing you may want to take into consideration when making your decision is whether or not you are likely to second-guess yourself and choose to go back to working in a law firm. kanken baratas If you think that you might, then you almost definitely should not leave. For starters, in a down economy, law firms are not going to be all that sad to shed some excess attorneys and a firm that you unexpectedly left will not be thrilled to see you again two months later if you have a change of heart. Additionally, firms interested in hiring associates want to ensure that they are committed to practicing law, and if you have already proven you are not by leaving for something else, you will undoubtedly be seen as a question mark in a profession that is used to periods. Ultimately, though, if you can see yourself actually going back to firm practice, then you probably are not as fundamentally unhappy with the law as you might feel at the moment. Perhaps you just need a change of scenery within your current career and not an actual career change – or maybe all you need is a month in Paris.

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Networking and Your Job Search

by J.J. on August 30, 2014

Networking and Your Job Search

Are you an attorney or law student who has just started your job search or is interested in transitioning to a new job? If you are, then don’t forget to include networking as part of your job search.

Some attorneys and law students feel that networking is not beneficial to their job search and career. However, networking is actually one of the most important and effective ways to land a job. Nike Pas Cher It is also a skill that will help you long after you’ve obtained your new job (i.e., it will help you acquire and maintain relationships with clients). Other attorneys and law students feel that they just don’t have time to network. buy albion silver fjällräven kånken paris However, you should make time to network. cheap albion gold Hollister Magasin After all, it is a great way to make connections that could possibly open up new opportunities and allow you to learn more about your areas of interest.

Preparing for Networking

Before you begin networking, you should think about what type of people you want to network with. asics homme Also, you should think about what type of job you’re interested in. Prepare answers to questions about your career and your interests. Also, make sure that you have business cards, resumes, cover letters, and references prepared. You want to be present yourself in a professional manner, and you want to be ready when the potential opportunity presents itself.

Ways to Network

1. One of the easiest ways to network is through local city, county, and state bar associations. cheap albion gold If you are a law student, you can join the student membership section of the Bar association. Typically the different bar associations have meetings, seminars, and other gatherings where you can meet attorneys and other legal professionals in your areas of interest.

2. Another easy way to network is through your law school. albion gold Law schools have many social events and legal seminars that bring an array of legal professionals together. Additionally, ask your law school’s career counselor for a list of alumni who work in fields that interest you. New Balance While you’re at it check out the alumni from your undergraduate college too.

3. Also, don’t forget to network through those you interact with everyday, such as your friends, colleagues, and classmates. You’d be surprise of how resourceful your close associates can be.

4. Nike Air Max 2016 Dames Social networking sites are another great source for networking. It is the waive of the future. cheap albion silver It allows you to display information about yourself and it allows you to learn about others. buy albion gold Some social sites many people are already members of are Myspace and Facebook. albion silver Myspace and Facebook are great for fun and social networking, but sites like Likedin and Lawlink.com are great for professional networking. Remember, when you become a member of these professional networking sites, to make sure all the information you display represents you in a professional manner. You don’t want to give the wrong impression.

Don’t Forget to Give Back

Once you’ve landed your job through networking, you should help others. Networking isn’t a one time event. sac a dos kanken pas cher It is a continual process. buy albion gold Maglie Toronto Raptors So, just like someone gave you a helping hand, you should give someone else a helping hand. Incidentally, by helping others, you will be building new relationships that could be beneficial to you in the future.

Remember, networking is a tool and skill that allows you to establish relationships where both you and your contacts benefit in some way.

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J.D./MBA Programs and Your Legal Career

by A. Harrison Barnes on October 31, 2013

The law school that I am thinking of attending offers a joint J.D./MBA program that I could theoretically finish in the same time it would take me to get my J.D. Should I take this opportunity? How would this increase my chances of getting a law firm job, since this is what I am sure I want to do?

Adding an MBA to your list of academic accomplishments can only benefit you in the long run, no matter what you eventually choose to do with your life or legal career. Since you seem to have decided that joining a law firm is what you want to do in the near future, there are several benefits to having an MBA when entering law firm life.

First, given the type of training that occurs, in our opinion it would be quite wise if an MBA were an actual requirement for getting a law degree. This is due to the fact that the practice of law is so closely related to business and few attorneys appear to realize this. In fact, attorneys traditionally are known in the business community as some of the worst businessmen. Being an attorney has numerous components that involve business such as marketing, the value of your time, hiring and firing, renting office space, managing payroll and numerous cost-benefit type calculations. While traditionally law was portrayed as something that was not a business, you should make no mistake about one central fact: The law is a business.

If you start your career in a law firm position, you may one day become a partner and be responsible for many of the day-to-day business decisions associated with the running of the law firm. Even if you do not choose to remain with a law firm, you may one day open your own practice. The training an MBA provides will help you navigate the waters in terms of running your own law firm. Your own law firm, incidentally, would be a small business.

A second aspect to consider in getting an MBA is how it could teach you to think in a different way. MBAs are known as “bean counters” for a reason. As a general rule, MBAs tend to be very risk averse and good at pointing out the risks inherent in any business situation. In fact, many entrepreneurs that have hired MBAs report that they are continually told by MBAs to simply shut down their businesses! This type of risk averse behavior is exactly what most lawyers do with clients on a daily basis. While we are, in fact, having some fun with the above statements, the generalities they express are on point and some of the better attorneys we have known have been MBAs.

Third, you may consider getting an MBA if you are interested in corporate work. Beyond the practical training and the training in the “MBA thought process”, an MBA will also teach you a great deal about the inner workings of the financial system and about many of the types of companies you are likely to do work for as a corporate attorney.

Fourth, even if you decide not to do corporate work, an MBA is not a liability. Since the majority of law schools with joint programs heavily favor the J.D. degree when constructing the curriculum, the amount of legal education will be on par with that of any other student who is just focusing on the law. Additionally, any extra knowledge that you can bring to the table, even if it is not directly applicable, is going to make you a more attractive candidate.

Fifth, if you eventually decide that practicing law is not for you, having an MBA is probably the only other degree that instantly grants you access to the kind of high-paying professional jobs that lawyers enjoy. Make no mistake about it: numerous attorneys leave the practice of law each year. You may be dead-set on being an attorney right now, but things change and many people who go into the law eventually come to rethink their decision. An MBA is a great thing to be able to fall back on.

The only con – and it potentially is a big one – is that some law firms may interpret getting these two degrees, which really represent two diverse career paths, as indecision in what you want out of your future. If a firm thinks that you are applying to them simply to get a feel for what working in a law firm is like before you make the jump to corporate life, they may be less willing to hire you. If there is one thing that law firms value, perhaps above all else, it is a singleness of purpose when it comes to careers and what attorneys are willing to give back to the firm. With that said, there are many firms who are not nearly as concerned with this, but the stodgier, more traditional firms may not understand your motivations.

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The Interviewing Process: A Survival Guide for Recent Law School Graduates

by A. Harrison Barnes on August 30, 2013

Graduating from law school is certainly a job in itself… now it’s time to take the next step–landing that dream position! The interviewing process can be an extremely daunting task; while being able to sell yourself to a particular firm is, of course, the primary goal; there lies a plethora of guidelines every recent law school graduate should follow.

In order to attain that first interview, your resume and cover letter will be the first impression a hiring authority will have of you; these documents need to be flawless, as there is no room for error. Once the interview date has been set, intense preparation should follow. This includes researching the firm’s area of expertise, its well-established track record and gathering as much information about the person you will be interviewing with are all key factors a candidate should gather beforehand. Being prepared with detailed questions to ask the hiring authority is vital to a successful interview. The specificity and detail of these questions should be given a great amount of thought and, in turn, will demonstrate to the firm that you have done your homework. The day has finally arrived… the interview is only a few hours away. You have completed the needed preparation and are beaming with confidence.

Dress for Success-this cannot be overemphasized enough. This will be the first time you will be meeting your potential employer and you want to make a lasting impression. From your enthusiasm about the opportunity to what you wear on the interview are all taking into account and analyzed by the interviewer. Making sure your suit is neatly pressed and your tie is stain-free is just as important as what you say during this time. Other non-verbal communication such as your posture, handshake and maintaining eye contact are crucial as well. Nervous gestures, although understandable given the situation, need to be curtailed too.

Once the series of questions have begun, your answers need to be well-defined and thorough in order to demonstrate how you will be an asset to the firm. Although saying you pay close attention to detail and have a strong work-ethic are important, it is recommended that you apply these qualities to experiences you’ve had in the past (i.e. summer internships, clerkships, etc.). This will allow the firm to see how you handle different situations and obstacles when they do arise. By doing so, the firm is able to gain more insight into your character and abilities to successfully get the job done.

The interview is coming to an end and you have eloquently articulated why you deserve the position. Although many law firms require multiple interviews before an offer is made, you should always close the interview by asking for the job. This simply reiterates your strong desire towards the firm, while demonstrating a certain level of confidence on your part. The last step, and one that is commonly overlooked, is sending a thank you note to the firm for their time and consideration. This simple gesture adds a personal touch and distinguishes you among those other candidates.

By following these guidelines, your odds of a successful interviewing campaign may greatly increase.

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