Transitioning to a Non-Traditional Legal Career

Transitioning to a Non-traditional Legal Career

Please welcome guest writer Kathryn Blair, law school tutor and PhD student, to discuss the transition from a traditional law career to something different.

It has been about two years since I left a successful career as an attorney and turned back to academia for the start of what I hope will be my third and final career. This was a difficult transition for me. The joke about law school being an escalator — seamlessly delivering you to a career in Big Law — is funny because it is true. But jumping off that escalator was a big and hard decision, and, despite the support of family and friends, it still felt a bit lonely. But it shouldn’t feel that way. Many attorneys face and make these decisions, and the shared experiences of others can be helpful as you think about these questions. [Read more…]

3 Skills of Top Lawyers that You Can Start Developing as a Law Student

3 Skills of Top Lawyers that You Can Start Developing as a Law StudentOur guest writer this week discusses some skills you’ll need as a practicing lawyer and how you can start working on them as a law student.

Here’s the bad news and the good news. The bad news: law school doesn’t show you how to be a real lawyer. The good news: top lawyers have three skills that you can start developing in law school, so you can hit the ground running. [Read more…]

Alternative Careers – Investigator for Workplace Complaints

Please welcome Joanna Sattler, Law School Toolbox tutor, to discuss her alternative legal career as a workplace investigator.

I’m the child of no fewer than three lawyers (if you count my stepmother, that is). All three practiced law upon graduating from law school and pursued “traditional” legal careers (two at large firms, the third in-house). As such, I had a certain view of what lawyers did and a (fairly) certain path I planned to pursue: work at a large law firm after graduating and then, maybe, try to work in-house. (At the time, I didn’t realize I could go in-house straight from law school; I truly thought there was one path and one path only!)

A planner by nature, I followed my plan. I worked hard in law school. I summered at a large firm and received an offer of post-graduation employment. Although I didn’t take that job (I didn’t love the firm’s satellite office in the city where I planned to live), I took another firm job soon after passing the California bar.

[Read more…]

The Ultimate Guide to the Law in Pop Culture Part III: Travel Media

The Ultimate Guide to the Law in Pop Culture Part III: Travel MediaThis post contains affiliate links, meaning we may be (minimally!) compensated if you purchase after clicking the link.

Please welcome back rising 3L Jaclyn Wishnia to finish up her series on the law in pop culture by discussing some media that can be enjoyed on the go or during breaks!

In our final installment of the ultimate guide to the law in pop culture series, the focus is on forms of media for law students that are easily transportable and non-intrusive, making them great for either travel or those lulls in-between classes. Specifically, those mediums include: books (print, e-book or audio editions), blogs, and podcasts. Keep on reading for a more enjoyable law school commute! [Read more…]

In Defense of BigLaw…Sort Of

Angela Kopolovich - Legal RecruiterJust in time for OCI, we’re thrilled to welcome back Angela Kopolovich, Managing Director of the boutique attorney recruiting firm Alegna International to share her thoughts on a controversial topic: Whether you really should take that BigLaw job you’re not sure about. (And, no, your concerned parents did not pay her to write this piece.)

Here’s Angela!

I’m going to share a piece of advice with you that I got when I was in law school.

It came from my wise old owl of a mentor, right before OCI turned our lovely, quiet law school into a scene from Paranormal Activity. (If you haven’t lived through it, just wait till September…)

“If your grades and class rank make you competitive for a spot in BigLaw,” he told me, “you should probably take it.”

As you may recall, I went to law school because I wanted to be a prosecutor, so I was a little surprised by his suggestion.

“Surely BigLaw is not an appropriate career step for me. They don’t even handle the type of criminal work that I want to do. What would be the point?”

[Read more…]

Are You Setting Yourself Up For a Résumé Red Flag?

Trashed ResumeYou know how everyone says follow your passion? Well, what if following your passion results in a giant résumé red flag? What then?

Today, we’re thrilled to have Rebecca Shoom — a rising 3L at an Ontario law school who currently works in Toronto — here to explain the unexpected pitfalls she encountered after following a side interest that BigLaw firms didn’t fully appreciate.

Without further ado, here’s Rebecca:

“1L summer is your last taste of freedom — relax, explore an interest, have fun!”

This was the advice given by professors and students alike in my first week of law school. So, that’s exactly what I did.

[Read more…]

Do You Have to Be an Annoying Suck-Up to Succeed as a Summer Associate?

Thumbs up! I read this advice for summer associates this morning, and it made me want to poke my eyes out.

I’m trying to imagine what I would have done if a summer had approached me at a firm event and said, as suggested:

I’m working on an IP matter with Joe. Your IP practice was one of the reasons I chose the firm, and I am researching an interesting X issue.

Where to start?

[Read more…]

Summer Reading List: Growth is Dead, Now What?

Growth is Dead, Now What?If you’ve got no interest in BigLaw, feel free to skip Bruce MacEwen’s short book Growth is Dead, Now What?, a study of “law firms on the brink.” For everyone else, it’s a good, quick read that’ll get you up to speed on the challenges facing large law firms — now and in the future.

(Hint, if you think you’re getting a BigLaw job, or you’re currently an associate, make the minimal investment of time and money required to read this book. It’s short, and you’ll learn something useful.)

What’s the Book About?

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Leaving Litigation: How Do You Know When You’re Ready to Leave?

Open DoorIn her last post, Elaine talked about how she networked her way into her new job. Today, she discusses a critical question for anyone considering a career move: How do you know when it’s time to leave?

How Do You Know When It’s Time to Go?

People often ask when I knew I was ready to leave. I know that it’s easier to say than to do; there are many reasons we find it difficult to leave the firm — substantial school debts, supporting a family, the fear of “falling behind,” not having a job during a recession or not being as marketable as a lawyer if you didn’t have something lined up already, the belief that you had already invested so much in a legal education and therefore couldn’t possibly throw it down the drain, the desire to maintain a high-income lifestyle, etc. etc.

Rarely is anybody ever 100% emotionally ready to leave. And rarely do you ever know if you made the right choice until you’ve had the benefit of hindsight.

[Read more…]

Leaving Litigation: What Comes Next?

NetworksIf you’ve read the prior posts in this series (about Elaine’s motivations for leaving BigLaw litigation, her pre-planning, and what happened when she gave notice), you’re probably on the edge of your seat wondering what came next?!?

What did she end up doing, and how did she get the job? Well, your patient waiting has paid off. Here’s the story, in great detail.

What did I do after I left?

I did a whole lot of nothing in August. I gave myself one month to travel and to not worry about money and to marvel at what life was like without seeing the perpetually blinking red light on my blackberry.

Then I started at the DA’s office.
[Read more…]