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Gold Star Candidate Wants Out

By Edward Honnold

Q: I am an attorney 3 years out of an Ivy law school who recently left a position as an associate at a large NYC corporate lawfirm to seek an alternative career path and better lifestyle . . .

A: Congratulations to you on your adventurous and innovative decision to seek an alternative career path to law firm practice. You will find that many (including myself) have also taken this path. I can also understand your decision to continue part-time practice while you identify what your new path will be. See Deborah Arron's book on contract lawyering.

To locate such a position, I would recommend bypassing all temp agencies and headhunters; they will absorb a significant portion of the fees paid for your services, and -- as you have already discovered -- they will not have useful contacts for part-time work. Instead, I would recommend the more labor-intensive but ultimately more promising approach of contacting law firms directly. I would begin with the law firm where you used to work, and then proceed to every law firm where you have friends or other contacts. How about contacting law firm associates or partners who are graduates or your Ivy law school? Find them listed in Martindale Hubbell. They will be more likely than anyone else to steer you in the right direction. You can also contact lawyers who have listed specialties in areas where you have experience.

I believe strongly in using voicemail rather than E-Mail for this networking search; voicemail is a warmer medium, and it might actually lead to a brief conversation with a person. Your resume can follow. The voicemail message will give your name, the name of your law school, as well as the name of the law firm where you used to work. The voicemail message will briefly explain that you are calling to enquire whether this lawyer or any other lawyer in the person's firm may be overworked currently and need part-time contract assistance from someone with your background. You may have to make a lot of calls to get this process started, but you can make many calls in a short time, without leaving the comfort of your home. You will need to persevere, but I expect you will succeed. You certainly have a compelling motivation to follow this one through. Good luck. To help you find the "true path" for your alternative, I recommend Deborah Arron's most recent book, "What Can You Do With a Law Degree," 4th edition. I buy this book by the carton from the publisher (Niche Press in Seattle) and make them available to all of my lawyer clients. Good luck!

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