lawyer-career-change

5 Reasons why More and More Lawyers are Interested in Career Counseling

 

Although many people are excited about becoming lawyers, and many practitioners large numbers of individuals are still aspiring to become lawyers and are studying towards this goal, several others who have already qualified are realizing that they have become extremely dissatisfied with their chosen careers. As such, here are just 5 of the main reasons why more lawyers than ever are now seeking career counseling.

  1. They Work Long and Demanding Hours

Lawyers are known for having to work for longer and more demanding hours than individuals in a number of other professions. It’s very seldom that a lawyer will actually be able to only work from 9 to 5 Monday to Friday because they not only need to spend many hours preparing for each case they take on; court deadlines and demanding clients often mean that lawyers will miss out on a lot of family and leisure time. 

  1. Their Schedules are Determined by Others

An aspect that many lawyers seeking career counseling have mentioned that makes their working days unbearable is the fact that they have virtually no control over their daily schedules. Being subject to demands from the courts, law firm partners and clients can be extremely frustrating because it means constantly having to rearrange their schedules. 

While some lawyers thought that opening their own practices would help lessen the demands on their schedules, it often made matters even worse because they found that they’d have to get everything done themselves. 

  1. Extreme Pressure and Stress

In addition to the long working hours, attorneys have to deal with the constant and intense pressure of trying to be everything to everyone with each case they’re working on – while also encountering other extremely serious issues along the way. 

This type of working environment results in extremely high stress levels and over time, it becomes extremely unbearable for many lawyers – causing several of them to seek out alternative career paths

  1. Constant Arguing between Parties

While stress is totally unavoidable in the legal industry, a large amount of results from the constant arguing that takes place between all parties concerned that are working on a specific case. 

Along with having to argue over matters such as precedent and case facts in court, there’s the daily struggle of dealing with legal matters in general such as when depositions should be scheduled and determining the amount of times each side will be allowed to make document requests, for instance. While some individuals thrive in this type of environment, many find that it becomes too much to handle. 

  1. Sheer Boredom

Most legal work that attorneys need to do each day is downright boring and anyone who attended law school thinking it would involve frequently executing cross-examinations and giving regular opening and closing arguments in court is in for quite a surprise to hear that this is not the case. The reality is that few cases make it to trial and many lawyers have never even been able to try a case. 

If you’re an attorney and you’ve been feeling disillusioned with your career choice, you may want to consider opting for career counseling. Chances are that there is an alternative career path that you’ll even enjoy. Contact us today to find out more about your options in this regard. 

Alternative Careers for Lawyers

Alternative Careers for Lawyers – Possible Positions to Make you Happy Again

Many attorneys think they will have to continue practicing law until they retire because that is the field they have studied and the practice of law is what they know how to do. Wrong thinking!

There are a number of alternative career options available for lawyers who may be considering the prospect of making a change. Here are just a few options.

  1. Recruitment and Human Resources

This industry is always searching for highly knowledgeable employees, and what better candidate to hire than one who already possesses the required assessment, organizational and people skills needed to ensure that the right candidates are hired?

 

The Recruiting field has two different tracks: one is as an independent recruiter, or headhunter, with a search firm. The other is to be an in-house recruiter. The former is a wonderful position for attorneys who like to generate business and close deals – the money can be amazingly good and the work can be very fulfilling.

If you are not too keen on becoming a recruiter, there is the option of working in a human resources capacity,  because it will allow you to use your analytical, persuasive, and interpersonal skills in a way that will help a company achieve its hiring goals. Obviously, attorneys with a background in labor or employment law will have an edge in the HR job market, but others without that background can develop a knowledge base by taking some training courses s offered by the Society of Human Resources and other professional associations.

  1. Academia and Teaching

If you are one of those people who enjoyed your time at college or law school, you may be able to continue working in a similar environment as a teacher or university lecturer. Although you will almost certainly be required to have a master’s degree to teach in public school and a Ph.D. to be a college professor, Adjunct Professor positions in colleges and law schools do not have this requirement, and you can also obtain teaching positions at private schools. You may mind that becoming a teacher or lecturer will provide you with a sense of satisfaction that could never be found while working as a lawyer.

  1. 1+2=3. HR + Teaching = Professional Development (aka Knowledge Management)

For those who don’t want to go the HR route, and/or who don’t want to take the salary reduction that almost certainly would accompany a job as a teacher or college lecturer, there is a position that wraps into one job elements of HR and Teaching: Professional Development. This is a growing field and becoming increasingly important in the business world. Professional Development involves working with employees to improve their practice area skills, like research and writing, and areas specific to their daily tasks.

Professional development, though, also includes mentoring and teaching lawyers about how to develop their “soft” skills, like team building, leadership, interpersonal communications, and more.

This is a highly paid position that exists in law firms as well as in corporate America.

  1. Project Manager

A project manager’s main role is to ensure that each project he or she is overseeing is completed by deadline and done so according to predetermined goals and requirements. As such, your existing problem solving, organizational and time management skills will come in extremely handy. If you are someone who enjoys seeing a project through to completion, this could be an ideal role for you. While attorneys may not have actually managed “projects,” the reality is that each case is a project and has multiple moving parts.

  1. Content Writer

Content writers are individuals who write material for various companies, and it can be in the form of short or long-form content. Although this is not considered as a senior position, it can be ideal for attorneys who are interested in researching a range of topics and then writing about them. Content writers are used for websites, blogs, corporate communications materials, investor relations materials, and corporate business presentations, among other areas.

A related area is that of writing for a legal publication. There are legal journals and information published by Bar Associations. Many legal organizations require content writers who have more than just a basic knowledge of law, meaning that this could be a great fit for you.

  1. Career Coaching for Law Students and Young Professionals

Do you remember how clueless you felt in law school about how to find a job and get your career started after graduation? Almost certainly, after the initial blush of actually being a lawyer wore off, you were probably quite shaky about how to develop your legal career. If these areas appeal to you, you can build a very satisfying and lucrative position as a mentor to law students and young attorneys. This will often involve helping them set goals and career objectives, reviewing their resumes, teaching them how to prepare for job interviews, finding ways to help them overcome any self-confidence issues, and helping them launch their careers on a solid platform with a clear career trajectory.

If your position as a lawyer has been leaving you feeling emotionally drained and stressed, one of the above career paths may prove to be a viable option for you. There are literally hundreds of other types of positions for which your legal background would qualify you. Contact us today if you are an attorney who would like to find out more about your realistic career options and alternative career paths.

career advice for lawyers

Career Counseling for Lawyers – Questions you Should be Asking During your Consultation

Although some lawyers love their jobs,  a large number of others find they are either burned out or have become bored with their careers. In a recent survey, the ABA found 50% or more of practicing attorneys are unhappy in their jobs. These people often wonder whether they will have to stick it out until it is time to retire or if it will be possible to make a career change, and either move into a more rewarding practice area or into a job that involves being more on the business side.

If you are one of the 50%-plus of legal professionals who are unhappy and are considering their career options, you should consider enlisting the advice of a qualified career mentor. Here are some questions you should ask when interviewing potential career coaches.

What Experience do you have in Assisting Lawyers who want to Change Careers?

Now is the time to remember that not all career counselors and recruitment companies are created equal – while some will assist individuals from all career areas, others such as Career Strategies Group, specialize in lawyers, and in mentoring attorneys who want to change careers or reposition themselves within the law.

Since lawyers possess unique skill sets and specialized knowledge within their practice areas, it is often challenging for them to know what else they are qualified to do, how to conduct an alternative career job search, and how to re-career without taking a pay cut. Enlisting professional assistance is a good way to find alternative employment, while still being able to use the skills and knowledge you have acquired in the legal industry.

While any competent career coach can be helpful, attorneys seeking to pursue alternative careers should look for guidance from specialists in this field.

What Services do you offer that will Help me Change Careers?

Not all career management professionals offer their clients the same services to help with their career transitions.

During your discussion with a potential career consultant, you should inquire about the services that they claim to offer. For instance, do they send you some standardized career assessment tools, or do they have instruments designed specifically for lawyers? Do they have off-the-shelf program packages or do they customize their proposals for each client? Do they just provide written or video materials on job search, or do they coach you individually on job search Best Practices? Do they offer broad-brush programs or do they help you select the specific services you need? How much time do they spend with you upfront to assess your needs before trying to make a sale?

It is also very important to ask if they offer services such as professional resume and cover letter writing, or if they just critique your original document? What experience do they have in preparing career change resumes? How do they handle your LinkedIn profile development? Who actually does the writing for you? You should also ask about the range of services they offer, such as career coaching, job search methods, personal marketing plans, interview preparation, and ongoing support. Can they do resume distribution for you to recruiters or venture capital companies? How do they help you prepare for interviews?

What is your approach on Networking?

A critically important question to ask is about their view on networking. Lawyers very often say they either do not have networks,  can’t use their networks for fear of discovery, or are simply uncomfortable asking people for favors.

Many career consultants base their programs on networking. A very few, like Career Strategies Group, have job search methods that don’t rely on traditional networking. Despite what some coaches say, traditional networking – asking friends and colleagues if they know of opportunities for you – is NOT the best way to find a new job.

How Can I Show my Qualifications if I don’t have Direct Experience in the Field in which I’d Like to Work?

It is particularly important to be honest with your potential consultant about how clear or cloudy you are about what you want to do next professionally. If you are rock solid certain about what you want to do, there are more coaches who can help you. If you are not certain or don’t have a clue about what else is out there that you would like to pursue, there are far fewer qualified coaches.

If you are not certain about exactly what you want, you will need a career coach who has substantial experience using tools that will help you see not only what you would like to do and what would be a good “fit” for you, but also what you can actually get hired to do and paid what you need to earn.

Coaches who do career testing often use tools that gauge your psychological makeup and skill set, but which are incapable of addressing marketability and whether you can in reality get hired to do a job you would like. That is a very specialized area in which few coaches are qualified. Make sure your coach can help you clarify your goals and create a real-world career path for you. For a basic overview of alternative legal careers, click this link, and get a copy of  “Caught by the Law? A Guide to Alternative Legal Careers” will be sent to you free of charge.

A key to a successful career change is to have an experienced consultant who will prepare compelling personal marketing materials for you in such a way that it will appeal to the right recruitment manager and show the full scope of your contributory abilities. In many cases, truly smart employers will be willing to help with the learning curve of a candidate if they can demonstrate firm communication skills, professionalism, intelligence and drive.

There are many good coaches out there, but no one coach is right for everyone. When it comes to your career and your specific situation, you should find a coach who has the knowledge of the law, the transferability of legal skills into non-legal roles, and who has the range of services and direct experience on point to help you.

Contact us today if you are a legal professional and are interested in exploring your career options and finding a job that you actually enjoy, that is fulfilling, affords a quality of life, and pays well. We look forward to speaking with you.

 

career change lawyer

Career Change for Lawyers – Tips from an Industry Expert

Regardless of the stage of your legal career, the prospect of taking a new career path, either elsewhere within the law or in business, academics or the non-profit world, can seem quite daunting. However, the fear can be greatly reduced, and the process made painless, by enlisting the help of a professional consultant who specializes in alternative legal careers. Below are some expert tips that will help get you started with your exploration of career options.

Work with Someone who Specializes in Career Changes for Lawyers

Although several companies and numerous coaches assist people with making career changes, most of these are general practitioners who work with all kinds of executives. Very few have the expertise required to deal with attorneys who wish to make a move or to consider their real-world options.  Other lawyers are not necessarily the best resource as coaches – they may know the law, but not much about personal marketing or how hiring decisions are made in the non-law firm world.

Career Strategies Group, founded in 1992, has extensive experience assisting legal professionals who are considering changing careers. The organization has worked with several thousand attorneys on a career change and alternative job search,  and as such, has a number of resources available to assist with the process. These include providing candidates with viable career alternatives, career coaching, career change resumes, job search strategies, interview preparation, and personal marketing plan to guide their searches.

Don’t Attempt the Process Alone

Although it may be relatively easy for some people to change career paths on their own, this is not usually the case with attorneys. The old saying, “A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client” is very apt here. Attorneys have very specific skill sets that often neither they nor the hiring community, can readily see as being relevant to non-legal positions. This is a critical mistake. The same skills that make you good at being a lawyer can qualify you for high-level non-legal jobs. An experienced legal career transition professional can help you, and the marketplace, see why you are qualified for positions that you have never held before. This involves an understanding of legal skills and the needs of the non-legal market. An experienced consultant, like those at Career Strategies Group, can help make this “skills translation” easy.

Amend Social Media Profiles

After setting up their social media profiles on sites like LinkedIn, many lawyers forget about their online presence. Lawyers, in particular, were initially very reluctant to promote themselves on social media. Even today, many attorneys have very sparse profiles. Big mistake. An effective social media presence is one of the most critical components of a successful job search or career change. Also, when creating or amending your profile, make sure that it reflects your relevant skills and experience. If you are a litigator and want to get into the business side of things, your profile should focus on your managerial and multi-tasking skills, not your courtroom victories. Be sure you are marketing the “right” product.

Your professional social media profile should include a clear head shot, up to date contact details, and information that will show your target market what you bring to the table that will be useful to them. If you are between positions, you should make it clear about the types of positions you are searching for. If you are still employed and need to keep your search close to the vest, you can still modify your profile so it focuses on the skills you have that are valuable to the type of position you want.

Have your Resume Professionally Updated

Recruitment experts all agree on one thing – resumes should stress results, not just practice areas and responsibilities. The hiring community indeed needs to know your duties and responsibilities, but what we really want to know is how well did you exercise those duties? What problems did you solve? How did you solve them? How did you help your clients or your firm? This is what separates the winners from the also-rans in a job search. Many attorneys take their daily work for granted and have a hard time coming up with accomplishments. A consultant who understands the ins and outs of what you do as an attorney, and who can help you identify your successes, is worth their weight in gold.

Career Strategies Group specializes in designing and writing career alternative resumes for lawyers. They also prepare special cover letters for each market: employers, recruiters, networking contacts, and venture capital or private equity firms. Each market requires a different form of a letter. One size definitely does not fit all when it comes to personal marketing. A professionally written resume and cover letter will help show your true value and standout from the clutter of the dozens or even hundreds of resumes that are received for a single position.

If you are an attorney or lawyer and you’ve been thinking about exploring your career options and or discovering “what else is out there” for you, but are not sure how to even start the process, get in touch with our team today. You’ll receive a confidential, no-cost initial screening call to discuss your situation and goals. We do not accept all candidates as clients; if you meet our requirements and are deemed a suitable match for our services, we will have a second, no-cost call to do a deeper dive into your situation. Once we have enough information about your case, we can advise about how we can help you overcome your obstacles and move into a new career area that will provide the challenges, rewards, and work/life balance that you are seeking.

Blackwell to give networking seminar for NY State Bar 6/25 10am

I am honored to have been asked to present a seminar on networking for the New York State Bar Association. The webinar takes place Thursday, June 25 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time. It is free to NYS Bar members. For more information or to register, click here:   https://nysba.org/events/successful-networking-for-lawyers-who-hate-networking-webinar/

I personally was a networking hater, for many of the same reasons that you hate it. I have gotten smarter with age, and have learned how to create and use a network painlessly.  I am so sorry that I didn’t start doing this sooner, but better late than never! It’s not to late for you, either!

Don’t have a network? Don’t know how to use it? Aren’t getting the results you expected from your contacts? This seminar will give you 3 steps that are so easy even the most introverted and reluctant attorney can immediately start building a powerful personal network.

The program is an hour, will be both informative and entertaining, and can be 60 minutes that can change your life.

FYI, the event is also available to non-members of the NYS Bar, but there is a $100 fee (I don’t get that money – this is pro bono!)

Hope to “zoom” you Thursday!

Coronavirus Cuts – Accept a Pay Cut or Look for a New Job?

I had someone ask me the following question today about his cousin’s situation:

Q: “What if, due to the virus, your employer is furloughing the majority of staff, but is keeping you on at a 20% pay cut. If it took you 5+ years to make that 20% you are losing, won’t taking the pay cut  affect your marketability and ability to negotiate to get your original salary back at your next job? Or do you think it would be difficult to get your current salary if you were furloughed anyway?”

A:As for your cousin, I would tell him to SHUT UP AND BE GRATEFUL.  We are going to be getting into very, very difficult economic times. “Furloughs” are going to be turned into firings and many companies are going to be folding. He should be grateful he was deemed valuable enough to be kept on. Law firm partners, associates and staffers are all taking pay cuts now — some up to 50% — and the same holds true for the corporate world. I’d rather have 80% of something than 100% of nothing!”

The truth is that no one knows what the economy will be going through, or what’s going to be happening on the job market. We don’t know how long this situation will last.

You may be upset that your salary was cut, but many, many people – millions in fact, including attorneys and white collar executives – are going to be looking for new jobs. With companies and markets in economic chaos, there won’t be many new jobs out there and the competition for them is going to be unlike anything we have ever seen before.

I make my living by helping people find new jobs, but if you already have one, I’d hold onto it as tightly as you can. It’s not pleasant out there.

If you have been furloughed or laid off, I can help you compete in this very complex market. We are even offering up to 50% off our services for those who have suffered job loss because of Coronavirus. For the rest of you, hunker down and be as indispensable as you can to your firm.

The Job Market is Holding Its Own!

There are new law and executive jobs opening up.

There were 22 new attorney jobs posted on Ziprecruiter today (Thursday, March 26)  for New York City lawyers, 9 for lawyers in New Jersey, 1 posted today in Connecticut, and 5 in Massachusetts. So despite everything that’s happening with the economy, 37 new law jobs were posted today alone.

Over the last 5 days, there were 93 new open legal positions posted in New York City, 55 in New Jersey, 25 in Connecticut and 46 Massachusetts. That’s 219 new law jobs posted during a week where the government announced more than 3.3 million unemployment claims were filed, and many of us are are lockdown. Law firms and companies are hiring. .

There is still life in the job market for lawyers.  It’s not looking too bad for executives, either. There were 114 new Vice President jobs posted just today in New York City, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts. In the last 5 days – when it looked like people were losing their jobs in droves, there were 520 Vice President jobs posted in these same locales.

To be sure, the number of new job postings per day has dropped by 50% over the last month, but the trend seems to be levelling off this week (may the Corona curve do likewise!)

If you have been thinking that the  Coronavirus has brought a halt to professional- and senior- level hiring, it seems you may have to take another look. We will looking, too; we we will be  tracking the numbers and talking with hiring partners and executives. We will keep you posted. Stay well!

 

To help those impacted by Coronavirus – 50% off our services

LIke many companies, we want to help those whose lives and careers have been disrupted by the Coronavirus. I am not a doctor or nurse and can’t volunteer to give medical help, but I can give job search help. For those who have lost their jobs because of the lockdown, I am providing a discount of up to 50% on many of our services. I have also added to our team of resume writers so we can handle professions that we don’t normally represent. Job search now is going to be more complex than ever in modern history. My practice is in its 28th year, and we have been through some very good economic times and some  very bad economic times. We have helped people navigate through some very difficult job markets and find new positions. This is an unprecedented situation, but we have a  great deal of expertise and are here to help you. Money is going to be tight for many people, so we are pleased to be able to offer a variety of our job search assistance programs at up to 50% off our regular rates. We will all get through this together, and we want to do our part to help those who can benefit from our expertise. — Bruce Blackwell

Bulletin: Coronavirus and the Job Market

This is the perfect storm. We are at the start of a pandemic and a recession. Nothing is the same as it was just a few weeks ago, and no one knows what the job market – or life — will be like a few weeks from now.

The good news is that the job market is not dead. Law firms and corporations are still hiring. As one source told me, “when there’s a job that needs to get done and you don’t have enough people to do it, you add to your staff, virus or not.”

We have been surveying legal and executive recruiters, hiring executives and law firm partners to get a fix on what’s happening in the job market.

One legal recruiter who specializes in in-house placements said they still have active job orders to fill, and in fact, job orders are still coming in. A partner at a Big Law firm said they have candidates in the pipeline and are intending to continue making offers. Another recruiter said some firms are telling him to “keep looking” for candidates, while other firms are telling they are putting things on a “let’s wait and see” basis.

Interviewing, of course, is now being done on-line. One source said he was told that final hiring decisions wouldn’t be made until a face-to-face interview, which may just be a way for a company to hedge its bets and lock up a candidate without having to actually start paying them.

The possibility of layoffs was raised by some of the people I spoke with, but at the law firms and among senior corporate executives, the sense was that layoffs would more likely to effect the lower echelon workers, not the more senior ones. Another person said his firm does not like to lay people off, but instead would consider salary cuts if necessary.

Our general feeling is that it makes sense to continue on a job search – or to launch one – at least for now. Firms and companies are hiring.

If the Coronavirus spikes and makes it even more important that we all “shelter at home,” it would almost certainly bring the hiring market to a standstill, and there’d be no point in doing an aggressive search.

However, this perfect storm will not last forever. Severe or not, if the virus abates within a relatively short time, I predict there will be a pent-up demand for talent and great deal of new hiring going on. If the virus doesn’t let up after a few months, it could be a very different story.

We will continue our research into the hiring climate, and hope to be able to prepare a decent “think piece” on this unprecedented situation. Right now, there’s not enough time, but I will get to it. In the meantime, we will continue talking with hiring managers and keeping you advised of our findings. I would certainly welcome any input from our readers out there, especially those who do hiring. Everyone stay well. This too shall pass. — Blackwell.

Now I Really Know How You Feel. I was Happier Not Knowing

The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has hit as close to home as can be. Because of the pandemic, my wife, Gwyneth, may no longer be able to practice her profession. In fact, her entire profession may be going down the tubes. At least for now.

Like many of my clients, Gwyn has to explore her career options. Unlike many of my clients, this is an involuntary exploration; most clients come to me voluntarily because they want jobs they actually enjoy.

Gwyn loves her job. She has a Masters Degree in Gerontology and 22 years experience in the field. She does geriatric care management, assisted living placement and nursing home marketing. She helps seniors and their families explore their residence options when they can no longer live on their own.

She meets with seniors and family members in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and private homes to assess their situations. She can no longer do this. She can’t see people in hospitals because the hospitals are generally not letting outside professionals into their facilities for fear of contagion. The nursing homes are wary of admitting new patients for the same reason. The assisted living facilities are in the same boat. Even home care agencies are impacted, because a homecare worker may be a carrier or go into the home of someone who is infected.

The senior care industry is in a true mess – I don’t know how else to describe it. This will eventually change when the virus runs its course, but who knows how long that will be? There are many healthcare marketing and admissions professionals who are going to be unable to practice their trade and will need to find new careers.

My wife, like my clients, is very smart and very accomplished within her field. But she doesn’t know about the transferability of her skills. Like many of my clients, she is wondering about what else she can do with 20+ years of experience, what else is out there for her, how can she maintain her income and so on. She is wondering if her training, her graduate degree and two decades of experience will all be wasted. She is asking the same questions of herself that my clients ask of themselves. It is a scary, uncertain time for her.

My expertise is career change; I can help my lawyer clients, but I can’t really help my wife. I know diddly squat about the transferable skills of her profession. When it comes to the transferability of the skills used by lawyers and executives with 20+years of experience, I have substantial knowledge and can help them find new career paths. I am a subject matter expert. But that very specific knowledge is not going to help my wife.

I always understood, from an intellectual standpoint, why the thought of a career change can be so intimidating. I intellectually understood why so many lawyers fear change, because they know they are competent and know what they are doing in their profession, but don’t know what’s involved in something new. I intellectually understood why they were so uncomfortable not knowing what else is out there for them that leverages their skills but applies them in new ways, and still generates a good income. I understood all of this intellectually.

Now I am living it. I liked it better before.

— Bruce Blackwell