Career Transition Blog for Lawyers

Blog for lawyers looking to change careers in and outside the practice of law.

We have been drafting blog posts about attorney career transitions for more than 15 years. Some of that advice has been impacted by technology or has otherwise become dated. Below, we share some of our most recent posts and others that have stood the test of time.

Raising Your Profile Makes It Easier to Change Careers Within the Law

Lori Mihalich-Levin’s career provides a great example of how attorneys can pursue other passions, even in a professional capacity, without leaving the practice of law. Currently a partner in Dentons’ health care practice, she is also the founder of Mindful Return, an organization which hosts groups for working parents in...
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What This New Compensation Survey Means for Lateral Partners

Responses to Law360’s survey on partner compensation revealed that 43% of the 584 attorneys included (all from firms with 25+ lawyers) had taken pay cuts directly resulting from COVID-19. With an average of 12 years at the partnership level, these respondents are describing circumstances that may lead to an unprecedented...
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What 2020’s Legal Employment Data Tells Us

End-of-year figures showed legal employment returning to the numbers it saw at the start of 2019. While this means that 2019's gains were essentially undone by pandemic losses, a 2.3% unemployment rate in this sector suggests the industry is doing well relative to the overall economy, which finished the year...
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Robert Parker: From Corporate Lawyer to World’s Most Influential Wine Critic

Robert Parker, described by Baltimore Magazine as “the father of modern wine criticism,” began his career as a corporate lawyer. Before becoming a hugely influential voice in the wine world, Parker developed an obsessive interest in the beverage while visiting his now wife during her college study abroad experience in...
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Bechtel Partners With Legal Innovators to Pay Less for Junior Attorneys

Engineering/construction behemoth Bechtel will be adding junior lawyers to its team via alternative legal services provider (ALSP) Legal Innovators. The press release announcing the deal highlighted Legal Innovators' focus on creating opportunities for attorneys from diverse backgrounds and demographics. Beneath that emphasis, however, is a statement from the ALSP's CEO...
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Paint Supplier Benjamin Moore Cuts Its In-House Legal Team

Even in-house roles are not immune to elimination, as paint supply company Benjamin Moore showed in November when it got rid of its entire legal department. Unlikely to become a pattern, outsourcing to employment law firm Littler Mendelson may work for the Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary, but most in-house departments cover...
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Career Transition Lessons for the New Year

Alex Pareene, writing for The New Republic, has published a rare takedown in a national publication of a specific large law firm partner. The subject of the article’s criticism is Neal Katyal, who served as Acting Solicitor General under the Obama administration. On December 1, Kaytal, now a partner at...
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Cole Schotz Associate Sabotaged His Critique of Big Law

Having spoken with plenty of lawyers who refer to large law firm culture as "soul-crushing," news of a former Cole Schotz associate who recently railed against the firm on social media and in public blog posts didn't come as a total shock. Unfortunately, Myles MacDonald, in seeking to "feel human,"...
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Lateral Moves by Women Partners Could Help Close the Gender Wage Gap

A report from legal recruiting heavyweight Major, Lindsey & Africa shows a widening gender wage gap among partners overall, but the details of the data bring to light strategies women lawyers can use to close it. The "old boys' network" that could be to blame has already accounted for many...
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More Lawyers in the Legislature?

Bloomberg reported last year that lawyers had become a minority in the U.S. Senate for the first time ever. Following data from the Vital Statistics on Congress, first published in 1953, the article cited work by Stanford's Adam Bonica, which found that the Senate had included a lawyer majority since...
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What Does It Mean to Be a Successful Lawyer?

An article published last week by the American Lawyer took a brief look at what success means in a legal services industry that almost always mandates long hours, inevitably taking time and attention away from other interests and pursuits. The article centers around the questions of an associate at what...
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Stare Decisis Is a Bad Career Transition Strategy

As a law student, I learned about stare decisis. As a business litigator for almost ten years, I saw that judges applied stare decisis—unless they didn’t want to. As a career coach for lawyers, I know that many lawyers rely on precedent too heavily when they think  about making a...
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For Lawyers Who Want to Leave the Law and Start a New Business

I know a whole lot more about running a business than I did in 2004, when I left the law to start Successful Career Strategies, Inc. As a career coach for lawyers I have in the intervening years talked to hundreds of lawyers who expressed an interest in becoming business...
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Look for a Job Like It’s 1999

What’s the single easiest step most people take to look for a job?  Send a resume to a position that has been posted online. What’s one of the least effective ways to find a new job? Send resumes for positions that have been posted online. The Internet age has brought...
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Escaping the Sunk Cost Fallacy

“But it didn’t take long for [him] to realize he wasn’t happy as a lawyer.” This sentence appears in the biography of someone who became famous.  As a career coach for lawyers,  I know that this is one of the happier sentiments that you can voice about someone.  And what...
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What to Do When You Feel Stuck

Being multi-talented can be a disadvantage when a lawyer tries to figure out what kind of career change they want to make.  As a career coach for lawyers, I have talked to many clients who have a multitude of talents and interests.  They almost have to many choices.  And that...
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New Career or Hobby?

Lawyers who are considering making a career change face a recurring question:  How can I tell whether the alternate in which I am interested is a career or just a hobby? As a career coach for lawyers, I meet lots of lawyers who have a wide variety of interests, ranging...
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Job Search Geography

Are you in the right place on the planet?  In the context of career transitions for lawyers, that’s an important building block. In my experience as a career coach for lawyers, geography is a relatively minor issue for most, and a very important issue for perhaps 5%-10% of the attorneys...
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Finding Your Ideal Work Pattern

One of the underappreciated aspects of successfully changing careers as a lawyer is understanding what work pattern suits you best. As I’ve mentioned previously, attorneys who consider changing careers often think in terms of job titles.  That is a mistake.  The better approach is to evaluate potential positions in terms...
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Are You Too Old to Change Careers as a Lawyer?

There is a self-fulfilling aspect to answering this question.  Lawyers who believe that they are too old to make a career change don’t.  That doesn’t mean, of course, that making an effective career transition is simply a matter of mental attitude.  The physiological effects of aging are real, and many...
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