« January 2012 | Main | April 2012 »

March 2012 Archives

March 8, 2012

Thinking About the Next Step? Join LYJ (Love Your Job)'s Four-Week Class for Women Lawyers

Women Lawyers: Are you thinking about the next step in your career; possibly changing jobs within the law or embarking on a new career or path? Are you unhappy in your current position but feel stuck, uncertain or unclear about your options? If so, this four-week class is for you. Co-led by Jennifer Bird and Suzanne Grossman beginning Sunday, April 22.

See http://lyjnow.wordpress.com/events-and-workshops for more details and to register. Limited to 6-8 women to ensure personalized attention.

Sunday, April 22
Sunday, April 29
Sunday, May 6
Sunday, May 13 - NO CLASS, Mother's Day
Sunday, May 20

Time and Location: 12:00pm to 2:00pm, convenient downtown Manhattan location.

Please email lyjnow@gmail.com with any questions. We look forward to hearing from you.

March 11, 2012

Attend Young Lawyers Section Trial Academy

The Young Lawyers Section (YLS) is again sponsoring and coordinating the Trial Academy, the New York State Bar Association's only comprehensive trial training program. The Trial Academy will take place at Cornell Law School from Wednesday, March 21, 2012 through Sunday, March 25, 2012.

The Trial Academy is open to any attorney wishing to learn or improve upon their trial skills and provides a unique opportunity for participants to have a meaningful experience which extends beyond a typical classroom setting. This can be a great opportunity for attorney's looking to transition into trial work to met with current trial professionals as well as update their skills.

For more information, Click Here.

March 12, 2012

Musings of a Lawyer in Transition

"Transition." It is a word thrown around freely as of late, and which has taken on a very different nuance than what it had before 2008. It means so many things when related to your career:

  • Looking for a position after a layoff, after raising a family, or after some hiatus from working, generally;

  • Starting your own firm, your own business, or leaving one or the other;

  • Shifting to a different industry focus or type of organization or role; or

  • Entering or exiting from a profession.

It is scary, exciting, daunting, fun, frustrating, fulfilling. You feel alone, alienated, lacking of a community, desiring collaboration. You find yourself up at night--thinking. Thinking becomes dangerous. It can cause you to fall down Alice's rabbit hole, not want to leave the couch, become a recluse, be happy be one minute and sad beyond belief the next. You crave social interaction but the thought of going out and getting that interaction becomes an internal struggle, especially when comparing it to the creature comforts you found in your world of one. You get excited when the barista at Starbuck's asks, "How are you today?"

What gets you through? What keeps you returning the surface after a trip to Wonderland (which can be a fantastical nightmare instead of a tea party, with more people shouting "off with her head!" as opposed to offering a fun-filled "un-birthday" wish)? It is probably different for everyone, but there are a few things that have worked for me.

Acceptance of, or surrender to, the circumstances. I do not mean sitting idly by, waiting for the universe to present the perfect situation. I do mean understanding and embracing that, no matter how many jobs you apply to, no matter how many people vet your resume, no matter how qualified you are, no matter how many people you know or meet through networking, no matter how many organizations you join or lead, no matter how often you are doing the "right" things to find your next job, perfect job, or just a job, no matter how much you think you can control the process, there is an element that is completely in the hands of the universe, the almighty, faith, karma, luck, or however else you envision the unknown to be.

One night while sitting, listening to the same suggestions and advice, yet again, from my incredibly loving and caring family members (and I mean that with all sincerity), I snapped. I started shouting, "Don't you know I'm doing all I know how to do and then some? Do you understand that I have some of the best advisors out there? I'm a smart person. There is really no advice you can give me that hasn't been given to me before or an idea that I haven't thought of! All I can do now is get comfortable with the fact that there is nothing more I can do than wait for the stars to come into alignment." If only I could control the stars.

Allowing myself to feel down. I am not talking about embarking on martyrdom. I mean knowing it is hard, very hard, and the process will get to me no matter how long I have been in it, no matter how well I understand it, no matter how hard I work to change it.

Someone once told me "You know, you aren't made of steal." Ouch! I have prided myself for so long on knowing I can take anything on and survive. That statement hit me to, much to my chagrin, my soft core. I went home and thought about it. I went from anger to sadness to taking a deep breath to crying, to finally, feeling liberated. It allowed me to say it is okay not to plan six meetings in a single day, to take a few days off of submitting job applications, to spend a few hours or a full day on the couch watching mindless TV, crying off and on, not answering the phone, to letting your friends and family see your vulnerability, your fear, and then letting them take care of you.

I explained to the same person who sent me into the "I'm not made of steel???" tizzy that I had spent a night awake, feeling like I was falling down the rabbit hole with nothing to grab onto, with walls so slippery that I could not even brace myself against them, with no cushion identifiable below, in the dark, with scary sounds emanating from the abyss (they sounded dull and foreboding, chanting things like "You'll never work again;" "You aren't smart;" "You aren't good at what you do;" "You'll amount to nothing;" "You're going to be fifty years old and living on your mom's couch," etc., etc.). That person asked me, "What would happen if you just let yourself fall? What if you didn't try and stop yourself? What if you just closed your eyes and let the fantasy take you where it will? When you land and open your eyes, where will you be?" I stopped and thought for a moment and said, reluctantly, with a bit of an embarrassed grin, "Back on the surface, unsure where the hole is or when it will appear again, but, although feeling a bit beaten up, I'll be OK." I can tell you that since that time, those falls happen less often (I will not kid you that they have stopped occurring) and the holes are much less deep so I can get back to the surface much sooner, feeling less bruised.

Forgiving people who do not know what to say to or do with you. You talk to people. Not knowing what to say, they try to give you a pep talk, give you words of wisdom, give you inspiration. Not that those words are untrue or the gesture insincere or tainted by malice or indifference, but they do often feel empty, obvious, and annoying, leaving you frustrated, not wanting to speak to them and thinking, "How the heck is that supposed to make me feel better?" I can tell you that one great thing about these seemingly absurd proverbs--they do work great as screensavers for your computer or your phone!

After learning of an opportunity that fell through and hearing more "words of wisdom," I wrote down some of the more common ones that I had heard often enough to be at the top of my head and came up with a list of forty-two. When I went back and read it, I had to laugh. Not because the statements were ridiculous but because of the silly assumption that such a statement will, in and of itself, make everything better. When I read the list to some friends, they laughed and insisted that I share the list with others if, for nothing else, to provide a little levity to job seekers and holders alike.

The list, in no particular order, is:

  • All in good time.

  • It will happen.

  • When it's right, it's right.

  • Just be patient.

  • It could be worse.

  • It's out there somewhere.

  • Just keep plugging!

  • Their loss.

  • Don't let it get to you.

  • It's all about luck.

  • It's just being in the right place at the right time.

  • It's not you, it's the market.

  • They're just threatened.

  • At least you're making some money.

  • At least you have savings.

  • You always have a great education to lean on.

  • Worst case, you'll never be on the street.

  • Something better is out there.

  • It's just not the right time.

  • You'll be fine, you always are.

  • You have to stay positive.

  • You have to separate it all out, don't lump it all together.

  • You will work again.

  • Don't get discouraged.

  • You need to collect rejections.

  • You're not your job.

  • This too shall pass.

  • You'll look back on this as a learning experience.

  • Enjoy the time off.

  • At least you aren't working ridiculous hours.

  • Everyone has their own crap, you just don't see it.

  • Why don't you just .

  • Keep at it! It'll come.

  • You have to network!

  • I don't worry about you.

  • All you're networking has to pay off soon.

  • If you can't get something, I shouldn't even start looking.

  • It's not personal.

  • Would you really want to work for them anyway?

  • You can do so much better.

  • Hang in there.

  • Keep your head up!

I am certain that anyone in a job transition, or having been in any kind of change or transition in any part of his or her life, has heard one or more of these. The thing to realize is that these statements come because, one, people just plain do not know what to say, and, two, your situation scares them because they imagine themselves in it and need to run. These "feel better" statements, although intended to make you feel better, actually are working to make the person saying them feel better. That is not to say they do not want you to feel better or be in a better place, they very much do. They just do not know what to do or say. I always think it is similar to dealing with someone who had to deal with the death of someone they loved. They will hear, "S/he had a long life; "S/he is in a better place now;" "At least the suffering has ended." Ended? Well, yes, I guess, for the person who passed but not for the person here.

Catch is the only thing that really works is knowing that someone has sympathy for you. You really just need an "I'm so sorry" and a hug, a night out, a night in, an ear, a distraction. But people do not necessarily know that, cannot necessarily know that. So, what to do? Tell people. They do want to help. They want to be there. Most will be very grateful to know how they can help and be supportive of you. Rather than just calling, e-mailing or texting your mom, you buddy, your significant other complaining about another lost position, a bad interview, a disappointing meeting, or just a down day or bad week, ask if they can meet you out, at Starbuck's, for a glass of wine, for a quick lunch, to head to a movie. And be sure to ask for the hug in the process, too.

One of these comments did speak to me, though. Ironically, it was provided not one-on-one but during the sermon of a young Rabbi during a Yom Kippur service. He talked about a proverb involving Solomon seeking to humble an adviser by sending him to find a ring that would make a happy man sad and a sad man happy, simply by looking at the ring. An older merchant, upon being asked where to find the ring, inscribed a plain, gold ring with, "This too shall pass," and upon presenting the ring to Solomon, Solomon recognized that his wisdom, wealth, and power were also fleeting things, for one day he would be nothing but dust. How does this relate here? The Rabbi encouraged the congregation to appreciate, learn from, and be thankful for both the good and bad things in life because both are a part of life and both are only temporary. This has become my screensaver.

Getting--even more--involved. Just when I think I cannot take on anymore "stuff," when I feel I am stretched as thin as I possibly can be, when I have found myself saying how badly I need a vacation, I get asked to do something else--plan a panel, chair a committee, or just meet for coffee. It does not sound like a bad problem to have, and it is not, but it does leave you constantly trying to balance your sanity with what you think you "should" do.

I have tried setting up rules for myself, like, not to make more than two commitments per day. This never works because, truth is, if you have the two commitments and someone you have been trying to meet with suddenly calls with an hour between X and Y times, otherwise you will have to wait a month or more to meet, you jump on it. It is the same with work with professional organizations. How do you turn down an opportunity to get access to even more fabulous people and information--and resume eye-catchers? Granted, you do also need to have some sort of social life for sanity purposes and get at least some sleep for health purposes but, in transition, you just need to accept that, once you land a job, even if you are working 60+ hours a week, you will finally feel like you have some free time and a less cluttered calendar.

In that vein, I have found nothing in my job search more beneficial than the volunteer work I have done--and not just with professional organizations. Getting involved, however and wherever, is how you get to know people and them you. You never know who knows whom, who will hear of what, or from where the next great opportunity will come. I have made great business connections and found incredible mentors, advisors, and clients through my professional organizations, going to networking events, volunteering for Make-A-Wish and with the Red Cross, participating in my alumni groups, taking art classes, or just from striking up a conversation on the bus.

Realizing you are not alone. There is the old adage "Misery loves company" and we have all had the nights commiserating with colleagues and friends about a bad boss (heck, there was a movie made about three guys doing just that), the injustices of the hiring, promoting, and other practices of one company or the other, and the travesty that is the current economic climate and job market. Although the evening of venting can help us, a "woe is me" mentally can throw you quickly, and with added velocity, down the rabbit hole again. We all get caught in it.

We have all also experienced the wonderful advice people give trying to be helpful, knowing nothing of how it feels to be where you are, and, although knowing it comes from a good place, it does not stop you from wanting to shake your head at them, get up, and walk away mid-suggestion. What the heck to you do? You do not want to be around the person who always needs to be in a worse position than you, the person who cuts you off mid-vent, finishing your sentences, the person who wants to tie their leg to yours and take you with them when they leap into the rabbit hole because that is the only place they know how to be in anymore.

I found the best thing to do is to find both the person who is also transitioning but also being proactive and the person who has successfully transitioned recently. Those are the people who will lend a knowing nod and smile when you are describing the latest sleepless night, your frustration with coming in "second" yet again, your exasperation with feeling like your resume is in the void somewhere and an interviewer's unexplained radio silence. This person will be less likely to encourage a mutual leap and more likely to ask why, exactly, it is that you are even looking into that hole again rather than seeing it ahead, recognizing it is there, understanding why it is appearing, and saying "Come on, let's go the other way," while taking you by the hand and slowly walking you away from the hole's edge. This person will also understand the bumps and bruises you have after a recent fall and may have a trick for alleviating the pain and discomfort lingering from them.

Finding these people--and there are, fortunately and unfortunately, many of them (us) out there--can also provide you with a community that you are otherwise lacking without having a specific place to go to everyday. You will feel better knowing that it is not "just you." You will think less that there is some sort of conspiracy against you, that there is some secret website bad mouthing you and marring your reputation. You will see that there are other people who you consider brilliant who are also struggling and understand that your continued transition is not a reflection of your level of intelligence or competence. You will believe that you will work again, that you will make a living, that you will have a home outside of your parents' basement. You will take a deep breath, if only for a few moments, and be able to say to yourself, "This too shall pass."

Knowing you, and your situation, are not unique. Wow. That really sounds harsh, does it not? Throughout your entire life, you have been told that you are your own person. You have been encouraged to be your own person and were instructed to emphasize what makes you your own person in interviews, on dates, in relationships. Besides, you must be in a unique situation because, otherwise, you are just one of the many poor, pathetic losers that are out of work. So not true.

Although our situations differ to degrees--how long we have been working, the kind of work we have done, what we are seeking, where we got our education, how much, if anything, we still have outstanding in student loans, how much, if anything, we have managed to save, if we have someone to support us while we transition, financially or emotionally or both, if we have more than just ourselves to worry about, if we have been able to secure temporary work, why we are transitioning, what we are transitioning too, etc., etc. The commonality is that we are all transitioning. Transitioning creates an uncertainty, a vulnerability, a stress, a fear. We all deal with those things in different ways but, as much as it pains us to be a stereotype, to be the textbook example of a specific life change occurring, once you get that many have been through it before and survived--and many will go through it going forward--and will survive, there is some comfort in knowing that you are "example no. 1" in the textbook.

I have encountered this "unique" syndrome in two very different and very dramatic instances. The first was while discussing the creation and utilization of resources for people in transition, a person approached me, commenting that the needs of people in later stages of their careers were different from those in the earlier stages. This person was reacting to the division of resources by topic as opposed to by experience level. Although I agree that the job sought by the person working for 25+ years is very different from that of the person just out of school, a job board or portal is effective if it has jobs of varying descriptions, levels and types---and many of them do. Similarly, although the resume of that 25+ year professional may be much more extensive, longer, and varied than that of the person just entering the work force, what needs to be in that resume and that the resume needs to be easily readable, professionally prepared, complete, and eye catching is true in all situations. Also, knowing how to handle hard interview questions, such as those seeking explanation for gaps on a resume, changes of career direction, or multiple moves, is a necessary skill whether you have five moves in ten years or ten moves in twenty.

Likewise, I was moderating a panel and monitoring and posing questions coming in via a weblink to the panelists for consideration and I received a comment to the effect of, "It seems as though the panelists are addressing issues of people with many years of experience. Can you please ask them to address how recent graduates should handle these same issues." This was followed, immediately, by someone commenting that, "The panelists seem to be addressing issue of recent graduates. Can you please ask them to address how people who have been working for X years and are now trying to come back after raising a family should address these issues." The panelists tactfully handled the situation but, to summarize and put in my own words what they said, everyone needs to be different or unique because, if they are not, they are failing, they do not have anyone to blame for what they are experiencing, and they are not responsible for managing, changing, or accepting their situation.

You are not failing! You are just one of many victims of the same circumstances, of the same economic conditions, of the same bad luck. It also does not matter who is responsible for putting you there, it just matters that you are there. As much as this may be a blow to your ego, like realizing you are not alone, it provides you a second's deep breath, recognizing that there are others facing the same stuff, that people have survived this before, that people will survive it again and, because you have so many of the same skills, talents, education, resources, insights, advice, guidance, mentors, advisors, resilience, strength, perseverance, power, spirit, desire, and drive, you too will survive, you too will succeed, you too will be a textbook example of what to do to be successful in transition.

* * * * *

To summarize, transition is discouraging, it is tough, it is intimidating, it makes you question where you are and who you are. You have to work hard to change your view to see it as exciting, new, liberating, stimulating---and that is not easy. You battle your own demons, and those of others who feel helpless in your midst, and feel like you need to make others feel better about where you are, putting your need to feel better about where you are second or third. You will not get through it unscathed, but you will get through it. You will learn a lot about your support network, being surprised by some and disappointed by others. You will learn a lot about yourself, hopefully gaining more skill and confidence in your ability to survive, to persevere, to make things happen, to know that you cannot control everything, to have compassion for yourself, to ask for help.

Join activities, classes, or organizations that interest you, challenge you, provide you an outlet, provide you a network, provide you a community, introduce you to mentors and advisors, unite you with others similarly situated or who have been similar situated. Share your experiences and ask others to share theirs. Find the things that make you feel safe, comfortable, strong, confident. Interact with the people who are supportive, sympathetic (or, even better, empathetic), kind, caring, can help you find humor in things, can laugh with you, can cry with you, can provide a shoulder or an ear.

Most importantly, have compassion for yourself, learn what you need to feel safe and supported and go seek it, take care of yourself, put yourself first when you need to, allow yourself to feel and to just be, and know, "this too shall pass."

March 15, 2012

Temporary In-House Position

In-house position with a large broker-dealer located in New York City. The position is full-time and likely to last no less than three months. The ideal candidate will be an experienced ISDA lawyer with 3 or more years of relevant experience and/or corporate or securities experience. The role will focus on reviewing and negotiating derivative and prime brokerage documentation for institutional clients such as hedge funds, money managers, corporate entities, banks, insurance companies, etc. Applicants must be well-credentialed, including ideally a combination of large law firm experience, in-house experience and graduation from a top national law school. Strong verbal and written communication skills are required. The pay is competitive, with benefits. Interviews will begin as soon as appropriate candidates are identified.
Job Responsibilities Include:

• Review and/or negotiate full suite of equity related documentation focused on ISDA and other trading-related agreements.
• Interact with internal and external constituencies including but not limited to sales, client service, risk management, and legal (internally) and clients (externally).
• Draft and interpret contractual provisions.

If you have the requisite experience and you are interested in being considered for the position, please contact Deborah Epstein Henry (contact information below). Please indicate next to the descriptions above if you've had all of the relevant experience described and if not, specifically enumerate what you have not done.

Deborah Epstein Henry, Esq.
Founder & President
Law & Reorder
A Division of Flex-Time Lawyers LLC

Author of LAW & REORDER: Legal Industry Solutions for Restructure, Retention, Promotion & Work/Life Balance (American Bar Association, 2010). To order and learn more, click here.

March 20, 2012


(In collaboration with the Westchester Women's Bar Association)




April 18, 2012

• 9:30 - 11:30 a.m.
• Room 811
• Pace Midtown Center • 551 Fifth Avenue • New York, NY

May 22, 2012

• 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
• Gerber Glass Lounge, 3rd Floor
• Pace Law School • 78 North Broadway • White Plains, NY

Session Two, 2012 Dates: July 23 - December 14, 2012
Session Two, 2012 Location: New York, NY

For information about our innovative and unique program, please come to one or both of the upcoming Information Sessions. New Directions graduates and current participants will be attending to describe their experiences.

For more detailed information, visit our website at www.law.pace.edu/newdirections, call Amy Gewirtz, Director, New Directions, at (914) 422-4606, or email us at agewirtz@law.pace.edu

Please RSVP by April 11, 2012 for the April session and May 15, 2012 for the May session.

March 26, 2012

Job Opportunity

An in-house position with a NYC investment firm seeking an experienced corporate attorney with some employment law background. The position is three days per week (Monday, Tuesday and Thursday) in the firm's NYC office. Interviews will begin as soon as appropriate candidates are identified. Relevant and helpful background includes:

• At least 7 years' experience as a corporate lawyer.
• Law firm experience a must, with in-house experience a plus.
• General corporate experience in transactional matters, familiarity with DE law, corporate governance, document review and drafting skills.
• Facility with start-up company work, including formation documentation, terms of preferred securities, stockholder rights, investor rights, registration rights, etc.
• Experience and working knowledge of employment law, including drafting employment agreements, NDAs, separation agreements, non-compete agreements, etc.
• Familiarity with 1940 Act, a plus
• Competitive pay and benefits.

If you have the requisite experience and you are interested in being considered for the position, please e-mail Deborah Epstein Henry your resume as soon as possible and put your name and Seeking In-House Investment Firm Position in the subject line. If you are not suited for the position but you know someone who is, please forward this e-mail as you see fit. If you are not already on Deborah's free e-mailing list, you can join by clicking here and please e-mail Deborah to send a resume for future opportunities.

About March 2012

This page contains all entries posted to Lawyers in Transition in March 2012. They are listed from oldest to newest.

January 2012 is the previous archive.

April 2012 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.