Archive for April, 2009

Lawyers Considering Complete Career Change: Stop “Thinking Like a Lawyer”

Monday, April 20th, 2009


In today’s turbulent market, law firms are laying off lawyers at an unprecedented rate. As a lawyer coach, I see a large increase in stress, not only among laid-off lawyers, but also in lawyers with secure jobs who see an uncertain future.


Some lawyers are considering leaving the law altogether but find such a process daunting. They tend to apply traditional analytical thinking to their career path–and get stuck.



However, as Michael Melcher explains in his recent ABA Journal article



Why Thinking Like a Lawyer is Bad for Your Career, applying “thinking-like-a-lawyer” to your own career doesn’t work very well because “the processes of attaining career fulfillment and growing as a professional are not all that susceptible to logic.”


Start by examining why you want to change careers, where you want your career path to take you and, perhaps most important, whether your goals are realistic. Analyzing your strengths and weaknesses is a prerequisite to a successful career move. According to Nicholas Rumin, founder and principal of New York-based Rumin Search Consulting, lawyers with a clear vision of their goals “move forward more quickly.”



How do you do this? Books like Deborah Arron’s What Can You Do with a Law Degree?  And Michael Melcher’s  The Creative Lawyer:  A Professional Guide to Authentic Personal Satisfaction  pose thought provoking questions. Their exercises and worksheets walk lawyers through the career self-examination process.  Lawyers feeling concerned about making a drastic career switch may also enjoy former attorney Marci Alboher’s book called One Person/Multiple Careers:  A New Model; for Work/Life Success.



International Lawyers Talking at Warp Speed

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Imagine a room full of international lawyers–all talking at warp speed.

That’s what I saw today when I moderated a speed networking session for the ABA’s Section of International Law at its Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C. The brainchild of talented international trade lawyer Cyndee Todgham Cherniak, the session was so successful that it will be repeated at the fall meeting in Miami.

During 10-minute chats, pairs of international lawyers–young and old alike–made new contacts, traded career tips, and–most important–agreed to connect later. The pairs of lawyers didn’t just trade business cards; rather, they made meaningful (albeit brief) connections, bolstered by commitments to follow up again. This happened over and over again during the session–so much that some lawyers felt hoarse from all of the talking.

The speed networking also made the afternoon’s cocktail reception much more successful: the ice had already been broken.