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Moonlighting for Lawyers: How to Improve Your Career by Taking a Second Job

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

Kim Pearson, a real estate attorney, opened a hot dog stand because he wanted to do something different on the side.

Forty years and tons of hot dogs later, he's more famous for his Law Dogs than his lawyering. Los Angeles news stations, and even the Walt Disney Company, took note of Pearson's hot dog business.

Pearson said he sold Disney the rights to his story for a sitcom, but the company declined his request to cast Robert Redford to play his part.

"They said they were thinking more about Danny DeVito," he said.

If his story makes you smile, then maybe you should consider a side job, too. Sure it's about making extra money, but it can also be about doing something you really enjoy.

Extra Dough

Whether it's grilling hot dogs or kneading pizza, lawyers often work extra jobs because it's a financial necessity. Law school debts, starting a new practice, new baby on the way ...

Non-profit lawyers, district attorneys, and public defenders, for example, routinely take second jobs to make ends meet. The New York Times reported about one attorney who worked after hours at a funeral home; another taught dance; one drove a Zamboni; and many bussed or waited tables.

John McLaughlin, an assistant district attorney in Massachusetts, said he worked for seven years at a funeral home so he could keep his day job. He said he loved being a DA.

"I think you have to have a second job," he said. "We lose a lot of people because they just can't afford it."

Moonlighting Pros

Monster, the job board, offers some pros to consider: Extra money, fallback security, and new skills. A recent article by the Harvard Business Review takes this even further, suggesting that a second job can help you discover real innovations by achieving expertise in multiple disciplines. Also, a second job can help you make friends with people in different circles, leading to valuable networking opportunities. Find, by taking a second job, you can pursue your passion in life without having to abandon the practical day-job that gives your life stability.

There are, of course, some cons to consider. These include: the inevitable time crunch, a potential conflict of interest, and performance slippage in your day job.

It's probably a good idea to pick an unrelated field and to check with your employer about moonlighting. And if you need more suggestions, here are FindLaw's 99 Things to Do with Your JD, Besides Practice Law.

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