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Second Acts for Unhappy Lawyers

Vivia Chen

June 3, 2011

RabbitHat It's been way too long since The Careerist checked out alternative careers for lawyers. So what's out there in the big world if you're sick and tired of being a lawyer--or can't find a decent legal job in this shaky market? Here's are some possibilities:

1. Lawyer-therapist: God knows lawyers are miserable and need help. Though there seems to be no shortage of shrinks (at least in New York), did you know that there's a gender gap in the psychotherapy field? Reports The New York Times:

Men earn only one in five of all master’s degrees awarded in psychology, down from half in the 1970s. They account for less than 10 percent of social workers under the age of 34, according to a recent survey. And their numbers have dwindled among professional counselors--to 10 percent of the American Counseling Association’s membership today from 30 percent in 1982.

So if you're a male lawyer, you could have a built-in market advantage. Think of your repressed male colleagues. Could it be that they've been avoiding the couch because they can't find a guy shrink to talk to?

But here's the challenge: You have to care about people--something that might not come naturally to lawyers. Therapist Will Meyerhofer, a former Sullivan & Cromwell associate (and contributor to Above the Law), devotes more than half of his practice to lawyers. He says, "it's not a great way to get rich, but it is rewarding on many deeper levels. You have to sit with people who are often difficult, or in great pain. It can be demanding."

2. I-banker or consultant. As we all know, lawyers are always comparing themselves against
I-bankers/consultants and getting green with envy. Stop complaining, and just go for it. Finally, this might be the moment for lawyers to jump the fence.

The market for MBAs is hot, according to The Wall Street Journal, which says that hiring in finance and consulting is almost at prerecession levels. WSJ reports that hiring is strong at Bain & Co., Accenture, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley.

Need another reason to go into finance besides the megabucks? How about sex? HITC News reports that 72 percent of bankers (male and female) admitted having at least one affair with a colleague or secretary. Other tidbits from the survey: male bankers are four times more likely to have an affair than female bankers; the affair costs on average about $568 per meeting; and 71 percent of male bankers thought the affair was "good for their marriage, as they tried harder after the affair ended"--provided they didn't get caught.

3. Novelist. Of all the options, this is the longest shot. David Kazzie, however, should give hope to budding writers. We reported on Kazzie just a few months ago when he became a mini-YouTube sensation with his deadpan video, "So You Want to Go to Law School?" That video got him a literary agent in New York, and now this government lawyer in Virginia has just published his first thriller, The Jackpot, as an electronic book. (It's available at Amazon for the Kindle, BN.com (Nook), and Smashwords.)

Congrats, David! You're living the fantasy of a lot of lawyers!

Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? E-mail The Careerist's chief blogger, Vivia Chen, at VChen@alm.com.

Follow The Careerist on Twitter: twitter.com/lawcareerist



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Thanks for the writeup Vivia!

I agree with "L." I was actually looking for real advice here - I didn't get it.

I cannot believe the lazy writing in this blog. Some of us JDs are really hurting, have big recession-induced gaps on our resumes, and are looking for real help, and someone out there is getting paid to write this frippery?

Tell us unemployed JDs - how do I get YOUR job? Because I am sure I can dash off an article as fluffy as this one!

One of my favorite authors is John Grisham. I assume he's a lawyer since his main characters always are. :-) The Firm is one of my all-time favorites!

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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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