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April 2009 Archives

April 6, 2009

Upcoming PLI Seminar

Submitted by Denise Gibbon

PLI (Practicing Law Institute) is having a course entitled “Attorneys in Transition 2009: Options and Opportunities in Today’s Economy” on Wednesday, April 8 from 9 a.m. to 12:30. The price is $25 and the opportunity to earn 3.50 units. It is being done in person at their facility in Manhattan and as a webcast.

For further information: http://www.pli.edu/product/seminar_detail.asp?id=55199

New Directions Program at Pace University

Submitted by Amy Gewirtz
Director, Pace Law School New Directions Program
Member, NYSBA Committee for Lawyers in Transition

New Directions 2009: Practical Skills for Returning to Law Practice
Session 2 to be held in New York City

Open House Invitation:
April 28, 2009 and May 21, 2009
Noon - 2:00 p.m.

Pace University Midtown Center
551 Fifth Avenue (French Building – 45th St., near Grand Central Terminal), Room 811
New York, NY

The New Directions program will be offered July 13, 2009 - December 18, 2009.

For information about the innovative and unique program to facilitate attorneys’ return to the legal marketplace, attend the one of the upcoming Open Houses. New Directions graduates will describe their experiences. Food and beverages will be provided. Please RSVP to agewirtz@law.pace.edu by April 21, 2009 for the April 28th Open House and May 14, 2009 for the May 21st Open House.

For more information, please visit www.law.pace.edu/newdirections or contact Amy Gewirtz at (914) 422-4606 or agewirtz@law.pace.edu.

April 29, 2009

You Are Definitely Not Redundant!

Submitted by Ronald W. Fox, Esq.

A few months ago, I read an on-line article from a London newspaper that Baker & McKenzie cut six New York associates in an office of 140 lawyers as part of a range of cost-cutting measures introduced in response to market conditions. The article used the English term saying the firm had announced “redundancies,” a definition for which is “having lost your job because the employer no longer needs you.”

Law Shucks reports that since January 1, 2008, there have been 10,659 layoffs by major law firms, 4316 lawyers and 6343 staff.

Somehow being “redundant” seems to say it with more of a kick in the pants than simply being laid off.

Imagine becoming redundant?

You went to a law school that’s hard to get into and did so well in your interviews during the beginning of your second year that you got a summer position at one of these firms. While there in the summer, you worked hard (or not) and were fortunate enough to get an offer to join the firm upon graduation.

You have been there for a number of years and you are now “redundant”?

My concern is that you might believe it in spite of the fact that you were likely not on the committee that made the decision, did not know whether your position could have been saved if others in the firm took a cut, were not given an option of another position in the firm and even though (for some of you) you know that the negative performance review was a pretext for the layoff. In addition, you probably don’t have an associates’ union that could have presented the case for your retention.

Having advised and provided career planning for lawyers for 25 years, I can safely say that the worst effect of being laid off is beginning to believe the “redundant” label and deciding that no one needs you.

Rest assured, you have options and you ARE needed!!

Over the years, the primary area of practice of the plurality of my clients has been commercial litigation in a large law firm. Most have changed firms at least once with the assistance of a recruiter. Some describe the process as “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”

While I have NO training as a therapist, I cannot overstate how significant a role in my efforts to provide advice and support for both dissatisfied lawyers and those in transition is the need to help my clients rebuild a sense of self-confidence and self-worth that most have lost.

I often remind clients about the role that Noah Wyle played on the long-running TV show, ER - Dr. John Carter. When he began, he was an insecure medical student. At the end of his medical training, in his residency, he is a capable, competent, confident physician.

The opposite occurs in the case of lawyers as they work they way through law school. Capable men and women who did well in college, wrote creatively, were active socially, started businesses and traveled, entered law school feeling good about themselves. The law schools then failed to teach them what they need to know to practice law and failed to teach them how to plan their career. At the same time, through the on-campus placement system, law students were often funneled to large firms to do work that for most was not what they envisioned for themselves as a career.

At the point when they are unhappy and dissatisfied and want to leave, they feel trapped because they are not aware of their options. For those who have no choice because they are told they are “redundant,” there is more of a sense of urgency and more reason to be frustrated and angry because they do not know how to make a transition. Few know their options and even those aware of some do not know a process for exploring and researching them.

BigLaw is only one segment of the legal profession and a fairly small one when you look at the demographics of the legal profession; i.e., the vast majority of law firms, approximately two-thirds, have less than 6 lawyers (half of all lawyers in private practice are solos) and there are a host of reasons why lawyers would want to work for (or be a partner) in such a firm.

If you take control of your career, you can find satisfaction in the practice of law. The key is being aware of one of the four fundamental values of the legal profession – a lawyer should be committed to taking a position consistent with his or her professional goals and personal values. You first need to decide which of your many realistic options you prefer the most.

Do you know about what is happening during the economic downturn in the world of SmallLaw? Is the situation better? Worse? Ignore SmallLaw at your peril!

I know about SmallLaw because for the last thirty-eight (38) years, I have been involved with them. I have worked for them, started them and worked with them. I have worked with firms that do commercial work, firms that represent individuals in personal plight issues, and public and private public interest law firms and non-profits.

As for supply and demand, much has been written over the last three decades about the urgent need of millions of members of the public for legal services.

Another principle to keep in mind is that few openings are advertised or known to executive search firms, especially in SmallLaw; i.e., you will not see them in writing in a newspaper or on the internet.

After you decide what you want to do, you will need to learn how to market and promote yourself. Deborah Arron, the late deceased author of What Can You Do With a Law Degree, had a way of describing this. She said that professionals do not apply for openings. Openings are created for professionals.

In addition, many of my clients never wanted to be employees. They wanted to be their own boss and be in control of their lives. They are entrepreneurial. They would never contact recruiters or need to. Who would a recruiter send your resume to if you are planning to open your own office? In fact, who needs a resume if you are going to be a solo practitioner?

Know that you are competent and that you are needed. There are satisfying positions in the legal community for you. All you have to do is take control over your career and go after them.

If you want to read more about career planning for lawyers go to my website and my blog. I invite you, of course, to email me or call at (781) 639-2322 to further discuss anything in this article or to find out more about the services I provide.

About April 2009

This page contains all entries posted to Lawyers in Transition in April 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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