Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Refugees from the Legal Profession

Mazel Tov!

I have met quite a few refugees from the legal profession working in non legal fields. I recently went to a Persian Jewish wedding in Beverly Hills and met a lot of attorneys and paralegals who have escaped from the law.

When I was a little kid, I was not allowed to eat "outside" meat, and we only ate halal and kosher meat in the house and when we went out to restaurants. My father was very strict and I still remember getting yelled at in third grade when he found out I had Mcdonalds chicken nuggets(non kosher/halal). I cried for days, it was horrible!

Growing up, I remember meeting a lot of guys at the kosher delis on Pico and Robertson in Beverly Hills and west LA.  Even though we lived in the suburbs, we would always buy meat from there whenever we were in LA. Back in the day, it was very hard to find halal meat butchers, so kosher delis were the only other option. My father and I would meet many of the customers who were working in the legal profession. Many were practising attorneys and I had never heard of anyone leaving the legal profession.

At the wedding, I met many attorneys and some former legal professionals. One was working as a high school English teacher and another took over his parents rental properties. At the bar, I saw a very beautiful woman sitting all by herself.

Out of curiosity, I asked my friend who she was.

The moment I saw her, I was startled by her piercing blue eyes. She had dark long wavy hair and olive skin, but her eyes were as blue as the Mediterranean sea.

I knew I had to meet her.

She was a Yemeni woman who graduated on law review  from a top law school and worked as an attorney for several years before opening up her own consulting business. She gave me some great tips on how to transition into a non legal career for lawyers and paralegals. She charges over $600.00 an hour and helps CEO's and CLO's find jobs.

She gave me a few pointers on how to transition into a non legal career with a legal background. Since she charges a lot of  money for her services, I thought I would post some valuable tidbits of information for my fellow poor legal professionals.

1.)   Emphasize your business courses- Contracts law, U.C.C., Trademark, Real Estate, Corporate Finance, etc.  If you have a useless BA in English, History or Poli Sci, then put business courses on your resume that you took in college. If you took an elective in  economics, then write it down. If you haven't worked in business, learn the basics through the library and on your resume that you know how to read financial documents, basic accounting, and multiple computer programs.

2.)   Discuss how your coursework and internships/jobs were NON law related.  This is very tricky since if you were working as an associate or paralegal, then you were actually involved in legal practice.

Here is an example of how it can be done:

If you were an associate working with a real estate company, then say you were involved in "legal transactions involving land, leasing, capital management and budgeting."

If you did business litigation then say you were involved with "accounts management, operations and business policy."

3.)  Emphasize that you did "management roles" as a legal professional. Explain how you effectively managed assignments, cases and the office team.

4.) Discuss interaction with non legal professionals. Your resume should say "member of strategic management team of the CFO" or "corporate partner  with CTO and  anythingcom.com "

To all your unemployed and underemployed legal professionals, try using these tips to help find a non legal job!

There were just tiny pearls of wisdom I learned which are very useful for tweaking your resume to find non legal jobs. I feel very fortunate to have met such a smart and intelligent woman, but I just wish all of you could have seen her  in person.

-The Poor Paralegal

Friday, May 13, 2011

Law School Applications Plummet in 2011

It looks like the word is getting out that a JD is not a ticket to print money like many people think it is. I found this great video and article online by Fox News in Minnapolis, MN.

I highly recommend you watch it!

Law School Applications Plummet

- The Poor Paralegal

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I Finally Got A Job

Darwin was wrong, there is a God.

All those years of Arabic school my parents forced me to attend as a child have finally paid off....

I finally got a job working for a boutique real estate  investment banking firm in their corporate finance department. Thank Allah (swt) I have a BA in Business Economics and I worked in business for several years before becoming a poor paralegal. A staffing agency found the job for me and now I am working full time in the operations division under two vice presidents and one managing director. The job pays pretty decent, and I am just thankful that I found  a job in this horrible economy.

After being laid off and doing odd jobs it feels really weird to have a real normal 8-5 job again. I am up at 6 am, getting my clothes dry cleaned, and working hard to make ends meet. Many of the banking executives wonder why I don't go and work as a paralegal, but they don't realize how shitty the job market is. This job is temp to hire and they will give me a full time offer after 60 days, so I don't want to screw this up.

I have realized that when you work in corporate America, you have to be very careful and be cautious of your behavior as a professional. I reflected on my past jobs, bosses and decided to write down some thoughts on how to succeed in the work place.

10.    When you go to work, never get too comfortable with co workers or act casually in the office. Your boss is your boss, he is NOT your friend! Your co workers are your co workers, they are NOT your friends! Do not talk too much about your personal life, the shitty legal profession, or reveal all your inadaquacies/mistakes in past jobs.

9.     Pick and choose your battles wisely. This comes in many forms, you should always listen more than you speak. Never get too carried away in a conversation with a co worker  and/or force your views on someone else. Don't have the attitude of "I am always right!", let it go, and don't argue. Even if your boss has the IQ of a mosquito, let him think he is right. Make him feel like the king of the world, because if he likes you, then when it comes time for that holiday bonus, YOU WILL FEEL LIKE THE KING OF THE WORLD!  Even if your co workers/boss force views on you, just smile and do what needs to be done. You are there to get paid, use the bathroom(like the pictures Nando posts on his blog) get benefits and go home. Don't dwell upon petty issues.

8.      Keep your personal life OUTSIDE the office. No one in the office is a therapist, they do not want to hear your problems, nor will they help you solve your problems. NEVER talk about your personal finances, political, religous or other views in the office. Your business is no one else's business. Also, you don't want people to have prejudices about you, when they don't know the details of your personal life. Ignorance is bliss!

7.     Do not hang out with co workers outside of work. This is very difficult for young college graduates, because after graduating college and going into the real world, it is really hard to make friends. You work so many hours and you don't really have social activities like you did in school. You may find people at work who are cool and seem nice, but first and foremost they are your coworkers. Don't hang out with them. Be cordial and friendly, but don't get too close with them or add them on Facebook and such.

6.    Keep your attitude in neutral. Never show your emotions too dramatically-whether happy or sad. Once your managers know how you operate, then they will also know your weaknesses.

5.    Never seem desperate for anything: A job, a promotion, a corner office or a longer lunch break. Be civil and let things happen on their own.

4.    Do Not Date Co Workers. PERIOD!  If you are that desperate for dates, then go to match.com.

3.   Be respectful to everyone in your office. Even the Janitor, the temps and elevator operators. Giving everyone little compliments will GREATLY complement your career. Karma really does work in mysterious ways.

2. Never talk bad about anyone in the firm or a client. Remember, those who gossip to you, will gossip about you and vice versa!  However, everyone needs to engage in worthless water cooler gossip once in a while, and so you should talk about external topics: The weather, the Lakers losing, insane gas prices, weekend plans, etc.

1.  Always try to do your job better than no one else can! I was originally hired for two days and then when I left after one week, the staff was very sad. I was respectful and cordial to everyone. When I left, I even thanked all the analysts, associates and secretary for giving me the opportunity to work with them. I left a nice thank you note to the managing director's desk when I left the office when I left work on Friday. As I was stepping inside the elevator he came running down the hall to say that he wanted to thank me for everything and how  he was upset that I didn't go into his office and didn't say goodbye in person.

My firm hired me as a temp, and they were so impressed with me, two days turned into two weeks and now two months...who knows where it will go from here?!

The whole point of the Poor Paralegal's 10   strategies to success in the work place is that you have to prove yourself. Once you work diligently, make everyone like you and make everyone in the office WANT to see you regularly, then they will want to keep you.

It is tough and I don't know how long this job will last, but I do have faith in myself and my other fellow broke unemployed/underemployed legal professionals. I am not working in a law related job but I have decided to expand my horizons and am now back in corporate America.

We are still coming out of the horrible recession and the job market is slowly but surely improving..

My advice for everyone is to hang in there and have undaunting persistence! There are 2 secret ingredients in the recipe for success: INTEREST AND EFFORT!

Take the interest and effort in your career, eventually something will come up for you.

I will keep you posted on my job and I will still write about interesting articles on the legal profession, money saving tips, and other words of wisdom I will hopefully find at this new job!

I wish everyone and their hard working mothers a very happy Mothers day!

-The Poor Paralegal

PS: I recently found an old Mazzy Star CD that I bought when I was in high school, and it's been years since I heard this CD.  Luckily, I found the video on youtube..enjoy!!