|A law student sits in class, bored with the subject matter and resistant
to the Socratic method. Yet, the student is driven by the prestige and glamour of becoming
a lawyer and does everything necessary to succeed in her endeavor. Somewhere else, a young
lawyer who more than anything wanted to become a "litigator" stares into the
mirror, observing another pattern of hives that has broken out all over his body.
"Stress reaction" was the official medical diagnosis. Finally, in what seems to
have become routine, a seasoned attorney works well into the night, dutifully completing a
pleading that must be perfected by the next morning while ignoring messages imploring him
to come home. All three scenarios may give rise to one question, "Is this what I
really want to do with my career?"
Unfortunately for many, the perception of what
being a lawyer is all about turned out to be different from the reality of the legal
profession and the legal career that one has chosen. Author Hindi Greenberg recognizes
that a law degree is not necessarily a "ticket to wealth, success and
happiness," but instead may lead to a career that is fraught with dissatisfaction. In
her book, "The Lawyer's Career Change Handbook," Greenberg provides an excellent
resource packed with a variety of suggestions and career advice options to assist the
reader in deciding whether a career change would be personally advantageous.
The handbook is divided into three well-organized parts. Part one is
essentially a personal "consulting session in a book," with the goal of helping
the reader define where he or she would like to work and what assets the person brings to
the marketplace. Recognizing that "the reality of career change is that it's hard
work," the author leads the reader through the often intimidating career evaluation
Of significance are chapters on the changing legal profession and its effect on career
dissatisfaction, barriers to making a career change and alternative work styles. An entire
chapter is dedicated to assessing skills, values and interests. The reader may be forced
to invest some time in order to gain insight into one's persona but such an endeavor is
necessary in order to move in the direction of, and ultimately attain, career
Part two provides an overview of the career options available with a law degree. Career
options within and outside of the profession are explored as are employment opportunities
that do not require, but are enhanced by, a law degree. Each option is discussed and
supplemented with a list of related references.
Part three offers a basic job search overview, including chapters on networking,
writing effective resumes and interviewing skills. A list of resources is provided should
the reader wish to increase his or her awareness in any of the areas.
By way of a caveat, the amount of information in this handbook may seem overwhelming.
It is recommended that the reader initially take some time to become familiar with the
index and the layout of the book. Since this book is a resource tool, having a basic
outline in your mind to help direct you to those areas pertinent to your immediate
situation may make the career search task more manageable.
Overall, this handbook is a must-have resource tool for those who are thinking about
law as a profession or those in the profession who are not completely satisfied with their
current position. The practicing attorney will find comfort in knowing that among the
multitude of career books on the market, there is one just for them. Chapters that profile
various legal occupations and analyze lawyer personalities should be mandatory reading for
all pre-law/law students.
We spend half our lives in our career and if this handbook, at minimum, opens the door
to searching for a satisfying job opportunity, the time invested in this book will have
been well worth it.
Rick Zanassi is a contract attorney in the
State Bar's general counsel office. He has a master's in career counseling and is writing
a children's book.