Learning about Legal Careers & the Job Search

Last updated Sept. 12, 2014.
Prepared by Mary Whisner.

You need information at all stages of your career planning and job search, from your first tentative musings about what sort of job might be a good fit for you to your preparation for a big interview or the decision about whether to accept an offer.

Note that you might use the same source or type of information for different purposes. For instance, legal directories can be useful when you are:

  • gathering information about a type of practice or community
  • looking for lawyers who might be willing to talk to you in an informational interview
  • looking for employers to apply to
  • preparing for a job interview.

This guide suggests resources for learning about legal careers and the practice of law.

Related Gallagher Guides

Legal Careers


ABA Career Counsel

Lawjobs.com (part of American Lawyer Media). The Careerist blog has posts on job-hunting, work-life balance, law firm culture, etc.

Findlaw's Law Career Center has an extensive array of articles, career advice and job ads.

The ABA's Legal Profession Statistics give you a picture of the profession. There's a lot more to the practice of law than big firms: nearly half the lawyers in private practice are in solo practice!



Sharon Meit Abrahams,100 Plus Pointers for New Lawyers on Adjusting to Your Job (2012). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (KF300 .A75 2012)

Publisher's Description:

You've made it through the rigors of law school. Now it's time to apply all of your education, hard work, and determination in real life settings. The real world awaits.

Transitioning from law school into your first official legal job is no easy task. To help you get past that inevitable feeling of being overwhelmed, the ABA has developed this useful eBook. 100 Plus Pointers for New Lawyers on Adjusting to Your Job guides lawyers and law students on everything you need to know, from how to work with your new boss to how to keep the copy machine working.

Through these 100 Plus tailored tips, tactics, and tools you will get oriented to the working world and be on the road to early success in the legal profession.

Law firms will find this booklet an essential tool for new associates.

Contents include:

  • Orienting to your new law firm
  • Using technology wisely
  • Understanding and addressing finances
  • Marketing and business development
100 Plus Pointers for New Lawyers on Adjusting to Your Job

American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, The 101 Practice Series: Breaking Down the Basics (2008). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (KF297 .A76 2008)

Publisher's description:

The 101 Practice Series: Breaking Down the Basics is a must-read for new lawyers. This essential training guide examines the fundamental aspects of law practice and is ideal for new lawyers or law students who are ready to begin practicing law. Written primarily by young lawyers, this publication features practical insight from the new attorney perspective through a collection of professional development articles providing techniques for improving legal ability. This book will not only give young lawyers valuable wisdom and foundational lawyering skills, it will introduce them to a range of new lawyer tools and resources.

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Steven C. Bennett, The Path to Partnership: A Guide for Junior Associates (2004). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (KF300.B36 2004)

Publisher's description:

Bennett offers practical guidance on topics from determining whether firm life is the right fit to preparing for partnership.

Drawn from the author's many years in training and developing junior associates, this book provides insight into some of the most common problems that can affect the career development of new lawyers, and offers practical advice for navigating the crucial first years. Bennett offers practical guidance on topics from determining whether firm life is the right fit to preparing for partnership. Tips and strategies for honing communication and presentation skills, managing your time, and networking effectively will help make the culture work for you and ensure a path to success.

Freshly minted J.D.s may be well prepared for the technical and procedural aspects of practicing law, but the real world of law firm culture is bound to offer some surprises. Drawn from the author's many years in training and developing junior associates, this book provides insight into some of the most common problems that can affect the career development of new lawyers, and offers practical advice for navigating the crucial first years. Bennett offers practical guidance on topics from determining whether firm life is the right fit to preparing for partnership. Tips and strategies for honing communication and presentation skills, managing your time, and networking effectively will help make the culture work for you and ensure a path to success.

Bennett picks up where the formal education process leaves off. Presenting a wide variety of scenarios and situations, he shows how to read the unspoken signals that reflect relationships of power and influence, and how to tap into them. He also advocates a solid grounding in the basics, covering such practical skills as writing memoranda, managing meetings, handling delegation of work, and receiving constructive criticism, while developing a reputation for being dependable, organized, clear-thinking, and enthusiastic. The result is a lively and eminently useful guide that will help you avoid job-killing moves, set and achieve realistic goals, and build a fulfilling legal career.


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Anne Murphy Brown, Legally Mom: Real Women's Stories of Balancing Motherhood and Law Practice (2012). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (KF299.W6 B76 2012)

Publisher's description:

Every year, more and more women lawyers face a heartrending challenge: how do you balance having a child with a thriving legal career? While there have certainly been giant strides in the number of firms and companies that offer flexible hours, part-time opportunities, and other options for their working lawyer-moms, it's still difficult for women with small children to make the same amount of money and be on the same advancement track as their male colleagues.

Legally Mom profiles the lives of more than twenty women practicing law at different stages of their career and with varied ages of children. This collection brings together a selection of deeply felt, personal narratives by smart, interesting women who explore the continued inequality of the sexes in law practice and suggest changes that could make firms more family friendly workplaces. The contributors hail from a wide array of practices and bring with them a variety of perspectives, including those of single and step parents, in the book's seven parts:

  • Part I: Introduction
  • Part II: Law Firm Living
  • Part III: The Corporate World
  • Part IV: Working for Uncle Sam
  • Part V: Back to School
  • Part VI: Hanging Out a Shingle
  • Part VII: The Road Less Travelled

Each woman has had experiences that have informed her choices on raising children while juggling a legal career, to which all working mothers can relate. Candid, provocative, and sometimes hilarious, the essays in Legally Mom speak to and offer support for any woman attempting to combine work and family.

Joan R. M. Bullock, How to Achieve Success After the Bar Exam: A Step-by-Step Action Plan (2014). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (KF300 .B86 2014)

Publisher's description:

So you’ve taken the bar exam. Now what? How to Achieve Success After the Bar Exam will guide recent law-school graduates as they make the crucial transition from student to lawyer. Through week-by-week activities and practical advice, this book will help recent grads define their career vision, seek out networking opportunities, demonstrate their value to potential clients, develop accountability, and think like a businessperson. How to Achieve Success After the Bar Exam will help you:

  • Create an eight-week action plan to jumpstart your legal career
  • Become the CEO of your life
  • Build a network and forge alliances that can help you
  • Develop professional expertise
  • Learn the basics of law practice management
  • Understand how to work with your future clients
  • Learn the business aspects of law, including marketing and profitability
  • Plan strategically for the future

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K. Charles Cannon, The Ultimate Guide to Your Legal Career: What Every Young Lawyer Must Know to Avoid the Mistakes and Maximize the Value of a Career in the Law (2007). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (KF297 .C327 2007)

Publisher's description:

The world doesn't need another book about how to ace law school. But prospective and young lawyers do need the information and insight in this book to equip them with the expertise to make the right choices and fully develop a legal career, from law school to the decades beyond. The Ultimate Guide to Your Legal Career offers a balanced and critical perspective on every issue relating to a legal education and the profession of law today, including: Factors to consider when deciding to become an attorney Getting the most out of law school, from working as a summer associate to taking the bar Answers to common questions about working with law firms, including average salaries and bonuses, billable hours, and whether size matters How to make partner, and the effect that obtaining it or not has on you, personally and professionally When and how to orchestrate laterals and avoiding the potential negative side effects Career alternatives to law firms and transitioning to another profession, such as banking, business, and the government.

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Dear Sisters, Dear Daughters: Words of Wisdom from Multicultural Women Attorneys Who've Been There and Done That (Karen Clanton ed., 2d ed. 2009). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (KF299.M56 D42 2009 )

Publisher's description:

Dear Sisters, Dear Daughters: Strategies for Success from Multicultural Women Attorneys is a unique, inspirational collection of letters from 44 experienced women attorneys of color to the next generation outlining various roadmaps for success in the legal profession as a minority woman attorney.

Recognizing that women attorneys of color face many obstacles to advancement in the legal profession, the Multicultural Women Attorneys Network - a joint project of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession and the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession - published in 2000 Dear Sisters, Dear Daughters: Words of Wisdom from Multicultural Women Attorneys Who've Been There and Done That. These letters described their experiences, feelings, and concerns with respect to inspiration, career path, and "the big picture."

The overwhelming response to Dear Sisters confirmed the need for a companion volume that would offer strategies for professional success. This second book, Dear Sisters, Dear Daughters: Strategies for Success from Multicultural Women Attorneys, is the result of that effort and discusses strategies, tips, and advice for a variety of work environments.

Minority women lawyers encounter persistent and pervasive barriers to their career opportunity, growth, and advancement. They experience unique disadvantages based on the double whammy of race in addition to gender. Women lawyers of color fare worse than women generally and even men of color. The end result is the exodus of women lawyers of color from the profession at an alarming rate.

So many minority women lawyers are seeking guidance on how to succeed in the legal profession. They are searching for ways to quell fears of whether they belong, whether they can succeed, and how they should address issues of marginalization, sexism, and racism. In addition, they are searching for answers on how to balance work, family, and personal values. While there are no easy answers, Dear Sisters, Dear Daughters: Strategies for Success from Multicultural Women Attorneys provides the next generation with a collection of tips for success that they can use as they begin to contemplate and shape their careers in the legal profession.

These dynamic, accomplished authors represent a variety of cultural backgrounds and practice settings, and many have been the firsts in their field. They have held key leadership positions and received numerous awards recognizing their legal skills and their significant contributions to the legal profession.

The book is organized by practice settings: (a) large and midsize firms; (b) solo and small firm practices; (c) public service, including government, nonprofits, executive roles in government and nonprofits, the judiciary, and elected officials; (d) in-house practices; and (e) academia. Following the essays in each chapter are tips for success from the authors featured in that chapter; these tips serve as a quick reference for you to refer to for inspiration. The essays end with a response from a sister/daughter from the next generation.

For the most part, the essayists provide strategies for success for their practice settings. However, despite their practice settings, there are consistent themes as most of the authors reflect on the importance of family, friends, religion, values, and giving back. You will finish this book armed with helpful advice on creating your own successful path in the legal profession. As two authors state, "There is no one path to career success." "You must explore what 'success' looks and feels like to you." Read on and develop your strategies for success.


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Michael Downey, Introduction to Law Firm Practice (2010). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (KF300 .D69 2010)

Publisher's description:

Navigating your way through a law firm practice can be overwhelming, especially in larger firms. A firm is made up of equity and non-equity partners, senior attorneys, senior associates, "Of Counsel" designates, associates, and interns, in addition to the paralegals, managers, and support staff that all help make a law firm run effectively and efficiently. A new guide by the ABA Law Practice Management Section, Introduction to Law Firm Practice, is a systematic study of how lawyers practice law at private firms and will help you navigate your way through how a law firm operates.

In an easy-to-read format, this guide contains basic information on a law firm, such as "how do equity and non-equity partners differ" and who is "Of Counsel" to more advanced concepts, such as a discussion of the market for legal services and strategic alignment of a law firm. This guide discusses:

  • the organizational structure and promotional tracks for the firms work
  • how firms develop business and generate revenue
  • lawyer compensation and the review process
  • intake of client matter, including engagement letters, retainers, and conflict checking
  • law firm profitability
  • business development efforts for new clients, such as advertising, direct mail and email, in-person solicitation, preparing RFP/RFI responses, and more
  • firm culture and demands on your time
  • mentoring
  • and much more!

Whether you're a law student interested in working in a law firm or a young lawyer who would like to gain a better understanding of how your law firm operates, this guide will provide you with the "ins" and "outs" you need to help you navigate your way through a law firm and excel in such a firm.

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Essential Qualities of the Professional Lawyer (Paul A. Haskins ed., 2013). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (KF297 .E87 2013)

Publisher's description:

Today's new lawyers and law students find themselves entering an American legal profession that is in the midst of disruptive innovation in the way legal services are provided and law practices are organized.

More than ever, new and aspiring lawyers must both (i) internalize those professional values and qualities that build resilience in an era of seismic professional change, and (ii) be exposed early and broadly to the lawyer skill sets and habits that engender professional success.

This essential resource addresses a widely observed gap in legal education and professionalism materials on professional development in a practice-focused context. William M. Sullivan, chief author of Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law, the ground-breaking report of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, notes in this book's Foreword the need for development of resilience by new lawyers as part of professional formation, and observes, "This book speaks directly to that need in a useful and eminently wise way. The authors provide tools and concepts that can successfully guide beginners in the law through an increasingly uncertain and challenging career landscape."

This volume will help students and new lawyers meet the challenge of developing a sense of direction and competencies for navigating uncertainty, as well as a sense of purpose in identifying with the larger values of the profession, including access to justice and service to society.

Broadly conceived and presented in 20 distinct resource-rich chapters, the book offers special guidance for women for starting legal careers (Roberta Liebenberg) and speaks persuasively on the need for inclusive thinking on the part of today's practitioners both as a professional ideal and as a strategy for success (Arin Reeves). The chapter on e-lawyering (Stephanie Kimbro) offers invaluable insights on the dos and donts of social media use from a professionalism perspective, as well as up-to-date Internet marketing guidance.

The qualities addressed in this book are the tools new lawyers will need in order to emerge as authentic and successful professionals, and all that encompasses, according to leading thinkers in the field. The book is meant for use in law school professionalism courses. It is also meant to be read by lawyers just starting their careers. The approach and style of the book's content are intended to be accessible and engaging as both class material and as a casual read.

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James C. Freund, The Smell Test: Stories and Advice on Lawyering (2008). Gallagher Law Library Good Reads (KF300 .F74 2008)

Publisher's description:

In Smell Test, seasoned business lawyer and author Jim Freund has created a unique and compelling book for lawyers of all ages and experience levels. He entertains the reader with ten fictional short stories about business lawyers who find themselves facing challenging situations--challenges they sometimes rise to yet often come up short.

After each story there is a detailed commentary, in which the author analyzes the key actions taken - the crucial decisional points faced - by the fictional lawyers. The essential questions are then posed for the reader: Do you approve of what Jack did at this juncture: If not, why not? What would you have done instead? It's an invaluable exercise for any lawyer testing his or her judgment on how to deal with thorny situations that face business lawyers.

Jim Freund then explains in detail how he would have handled the particular situation--applying to these difficulties the good judgment honed over a lifetime of practical experience. And he offers valuable advice about the larger lawyering issues involved. The book explores the numerous conflicts that a business lawyer faces: lawyer-to-lawyer, often at the negotiating table, between lawyer and client (or prospective client); and inside the law firm between partners, or partners and associates. Some of the most wrenching conflicts take place within the lawyer's mind, as his better and baser instincts wrestle over how to handle a sticky situation.

A number of the tales in Smell Test have an ethical issue at the core, such as a lawyer deciding whether his firm should take on some questionable (but profitable) new business. Some of the most sensitive moments involve a lawyer agonizing over the implications of telling the truth. Several stories deal extensively with negotiating--lawyers strategizing and bargaining over deal terms, facing difficult choices along the way.

Reading Smell Test is a great way to help you improve your lawyering skills and understand how to deal with similar situations while being entertained by the lively adventures of your fictional brethren. It also provides valuable primary materials for conducting training programs and professional seminars.

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Kay Kavanagh & Paula Nailon, Excellence in the Workplace: Legal and Life Skills in a Nutshell (2007). Gallagher Law Library Reference Area (KF297.Z9 K38 2007)

Publisher's description:

Excellence in the Workplace: Legal and Life Skills in a Nutshell provides tools and techniques for success on the job and in life to students and lawyers beginning their careers. It progresses from preparing for the first day of work, to work-life balancing. Designed for easy reading and reference by students, the chapters can also be used as teaching modules.

The authors:

  • Discuss fundamental lawyering skills such as analysis, research, writing, oral communication, and time management
  • Introduce the characteristics of emotional intelligence, effective interpersonal relationships, models of professionalism, conflict and stress management, and generational differences
  • Offer practical advice for building a successful career, creating a career plan, assessing a job offer, negotiating a salary, managing money, and maintaining a work-life balance

The text includes student reflections about real-life situations, shared in the form of on-the-job journal entries.


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Steven Keeva, Transforming Practices: Finding Joy and Satisfaction in the Legal Life (Tenth Anniversary Edition 2009). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (K123 .K44 2009)

Publisher's description:

In 1999, Transforming Practices became the first book to explore bringing your soul to the practice of law and using the law to heal, and now this timeless treatise on finding fulfillment returns to the American Bar Association in a 10th Anniversary Edition.

Author Steven Keeva skillfully examines how lawyers can find deeper meaning in their work, practice more compassionately, and discover more enjoyment in what they do, all by developing a greater awareness and respect for their inner lives. Filled with inspiring profiles of lawyers who have successfully changed their work habits and attitudes and who have healed themselves as individuals and within their communities, this book makes it clear that the opportunity for change exists for every lawyer, in every kind of practice.

Through interviews and anecdotes, Keeva shows that it is okay for a lawyer to be human, to care, and to let the values and priorities that matter at home also matter at work.


Transforming Practices

Keith Robert Lee, The Marble and the Sculptor (2013). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (KF297 L44 2013)

Publisher's description:

Let's face it. The entire legal industry is in a state of flux. If you're a new lawyer in today's economy, you're probably asking yourself one of the following questions:

  • How do I transition from law school to law practice?
  • How do I get a job?
  • How can I find like-minded mentors and colleagues?
  • How do I develop a book of business?
  • How do I become a good lawyer?

These questions weigh on you and keep you awake at night, along with thoughts like "Was going to law school really the right decision?" or "Should I be doing something else with my life?" If you aren't asking yourself these questions, you are ignoring the world to your detriment.

Written from the in-the-trenches perspective of a young lawyer, The Marble and the Sculptor provides a clear no-nonsense path from law school to lawyering. It presents a fundamental understanding of what is expected of new attorneys and a framework for becoming a successfulboth as a lawyer and in life.

With advice on everything from choosing classes that matter in law school to the importance of writing well, attracting clients, and avoiding five basic mistakes in your first job at a law firm, this book is destined to become the go-to guide for all young lawyers regardless of law school or area of practice.

Simply put, if you care at all about practicing law, you can't afford not to read it.

The Marble and the Sculptor

A Life in the Law: Advice for Young Lawyers (William S. Duffey Jr. & Richard A. Schneider eds., 2009). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (KF372 .L54 2009)

Publisher's description:

In the legal profession today there are many forces which continue to seek to blow lawyers off course--professionally, ethically, morally, relationally and materially. Life in the Law was written in the belief that there can be great comfort in counseling with those who have gone before us and who can share their insights on a life lived well in the law.

This book offers a unique opportunity to sit down with a diverse gathering of lawyers to share their perspectives on being a lawyer. In this compelling collection of essays, the contributors write about the values of the profession, a lawyers responsibility to their communities, their duty of service to clients, and to the public and to each other. These renowned lawyers and educators also address troublesome issues about how hard lawyers are expected to work, and what sacrifices they should and should not make.

Share the journey with these 15 outstanding lawyers as they open their hearts, tell their stories and share the values that they live as practitioners. This book can provide the guidance you need should you ever feel that you are losing your way.

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Paul M. Lisnek, The Art of Lawyering: Essential Knowledge for Becoming a Great Attorney (2010). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (K115 .L57 2010)

Publisher's description:

Every year, tens of thousands of people graduate from law school, pass the bar exam, and undertake the practice of law. But only a select few truly develop the art of lawyering—the insight, the gut, the feel, the voice, the gesture, the talent required to excel as a lawyer and stand out from the rest of the crowd. This book is written especially for the new lawyer who wants to excel in his or her chosen career, whether starting a solo practice or joining an established firm. It provides information on: The art of rainmaking—finding and keeping clients The art of billing your clients and getting them to pay you on time without losing business The art of negotiation, both in and out of the courtroom The art of a trial—preparing your case, questioning witnesses, selecting the jury - See more at: http://www.sourcebooks.com/store/art-of-lawyering.html#sthash.GM2nCBSu.dpuf


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Cami McLaren & Stephanie J. Finelli, Coaching for Attorneys: Improving Productivity and Achieving Balance (2014). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (KF298 .M35 2014)

Publisher's Description:

Coaching for Attorneys is more than just a book. It is a mentor—addressing common problems and concerns that lawyers experience throughout their careers - and provides specific tools along with specific step-by-step instructions on how to use these tools to help you make life as a lawyer easier. As Cami McLaren addresses the fact that when you leave law school, you are only prepared to research, write, and argue—in theory, only prepared to practice law—she expertly presents an ideology that you can find that delicate balance between professional life and personal life and be happy on both accounts. She brings forth tools, ideas and skills to attorneys and assists them in practicing in their own way—the way that is most fulfilling for each individual. Coaching for Attorneys teaches one how to feel good about what you are doing thus resulting in better work, better health, and better family life. Simply put: a fulfilled attorney is a better attorney. Throughout this new-age book, real life examples are included that demonstrate how effective coaching can have positive changes. The authors help you realize practicing law in a new and innovative way that will respect who you are as a person; that will bring excellence to your practice, balance to your life; and that will ultimately have you feeling better and working more productively!

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Michael F. Melcher, The Creative Lawyer: A Practical Guide to Authentic Professional Satisfaction (2007). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (KF300.Z9 M45 2007)

Publisher's description:

The Creative Lawyer is a self-help and career-management book for lawyers of all levels of experience. Written by Michael Melcher, one of America's leading career coaches who is himself an attorney, the book is a step-by-step method for imagining and realizing your path to personal and professional satisfaction.

"Professional satisfaction," the author writes, "is a question of creating what you want, not just waiting for it to appear. You become the creative lawyer when you take stewardship of your own life and career. This means analyzing your desires, interests, temperament and ambitions. It means designing goals related to things you're sure about and designing experiments about things you're not. It means mastering the present while anticipating the future." This book shows you how, precisely, to do these things.

If you're a young lawyer, The Creative Lawyer will give you a template for envisioning and managing your own professional development, whatever path you choose.

If you're an experienced lawyer, The Creative Lawyer book will help you to reassess and renew your career. It will aid you in understanding how your own values and passions might have changed over the years, and what to do if they have.

If you are unhappy or stuck in your career, the book will help you figure out ways to ameliorate your problems and gradually get to a place where your work is in synch with who you really are.

If you are happy in your career, The Creative Lawyer will help you to manage your career so that you can stay happy.

If you are not sure what you think about your career, The Creative Lawyer will give you a framework for sorting things out and moving forward amidst ambiguity.

Melcher Keynote at Iowa Bar (8:02 YouTube Clip)

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Desiree Moore, Thrive: A New Lawyer's Guide to Law Firm Practice (2012). Gallagher Law Library Good Reads (KF297 .M66 2012)

Publisher's description:

As a law school graduate, you are deeply trained and a member of one of the most distinguished professions of all time. Still, law school has not prepared you for the complexities and demands of actually practicing law. You, like so many other professionals--athletes, singers, entrepreneurs--can benefit from a coach, a mentor, someone watching over you as you embark on your legal career. Thrive: A New Lawyer's Guide to Law Firm Practice is designed to do just that. Thrive will improve your performance, save you some very real growing pains, and accelerate your legal career.

This book is for lawyers who are just beginning their careers, who want to do more than show up, act eagerly, and not get fired. This is for lawyers who want to know what their role is in a law firm from day one and take their careers head-on, with direction and purpose. This is for you if you don't care to be frustrated or overwhelmed by your career, but awakened. This is for you if you know that you want to become a leader in your law firm, practice area, or industry down the line. Are you in?

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Kathy Morris & Jill Eckert, Ask the Career Counselors: Answers for Lawyers on Their Lives and Life's Work (2003). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (KF297.Z9M674 2003)

Ask the Career Counselors

Alan B. Morrison & Diane T. Chin, Beyond the Big Firm: Profiles of Lawyers Who Want Something More (2007). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (KF299.P8 M67 2007)

The book is equally helpful as an engaging cover-to-cover read or as a source of advice for particular career decisions. Further, it provides:

  • Chapters that offer a standalone piece of advice for every step in a lawyer's career
  • A road map for achieving career satisfaction
  • Techniques for determining your ideal career
  • Insight into achieving work/life balance

Publisher's description:

This succinct paperback will fill a major information void for students and recent graduates who are interested in a legal career outside the typical large, corporate law firm. Beyond the Big Firm offers more than 30 compelling profiles of lawyers who have chosen to follow nontraditional legal careers, in a wide range of subject areas, practice settings, and types of work.

This distinctive book explores the many possibilities open to law school graduates interested in "alternative" career choices.

  • the editors of this engaging compilation are long-time public interest lawyers; the actual authors of the profiles are primarily students who capture the personalities of the subjects in a way that is sure to resonate with the audience because they share the same questions about career choices
  • the subjects of the profiles have been out of law school 10-15 years, they represent 18 law schools, and they work in 15 states
  • the lawyers profiled have jobs in governments, nonprofits, and small private firms; both civil and criminal law practice are covered, including prosecutors and defense counsel
  • some of the fields that the lawyers work in include civil rights, civil liberties, immigration, personal injury, and human rights

In addition to the fascinating profiles, special features include:

  • a special resources chapter to help students determine and follow their career choice
  • a final chapter with mini-profiles of 3 lawyers who are not practicing law, but for whom their legal training is vital to their work
  • short essays by current and former Stanford Law School deans Larry Kramer and Kathleen Sullivan
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Gary A. Munneke, The Legal Career Guide: From Law Student to Lawyer (5th ed. 2008). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (KF297 .M86 2008)

Publisher's description:

The key question for law students contemplating the future should not be "How do I find a job?" but "How can I find satisfaction in a legal career?"

This book will help you answer that question and lead you in the right direction. Written by a law professor at Pace University School of Law and the Dean of Career Services at Columbia University School of Law, New York, this fifth edition of one of the ABA's bestselling career guide books has been updated to address the unique needs of today's law students seeking both career satisfaction and a healthy life balance in the profession.

The Legal Career Guide is designed as a hands-on manual to assist you in making these important decisions by helping you identify specific goals and evaluate opportunities as they arise, reflect on changes in your personal situation that affect your aspirations, and assess new trends within the profession that will impact your chosen practice.

Divided into four parts that address planning, assessment, searching, and the marketplace you'll learn:

  • How to get from start to finish in the career choice process
  • How to honestly and effectively assess your personal and professional skills
  • How to successfully study and evaluate the market and utilize a step-by-step guide for your job search
  • About employment trends and studies, principles and standards for law placement and recruitment, and other valuable resources in the comprehensive appendices

The guidelines established here will, ideally, provide you with the skills and self-awareness you need to help you make career decisions throughout life, provide for continued professional development, and equip you for those unpredictable turns of fate the future may hold.

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Sarah Powell, Biglaw: How to Survive the First Two Years of Practice in a Mega-Firm, or, The Art of Doc Review (2013). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (KF300 .P69 2013)

Publisher's description:

Popular culture usually portrays the life of a junior associate in one of America’s elite law firms—collectively Biglaw—either as a glamorous and lucrative (if morally dubious) adventure, or as a hellish immersion in mind-numbing servitude to psychotic senior partners, while the available advice books on being an associate usually give little insight into what Biglaw practice is really like, or why it is the way it is. In this book, Sarah Powell (herself a veteran of Biglaw associate life) gives a clear-eyed, intensely personal, and at the same time institutionally sophisticated account of what associates experience and why. Rather than being random and inexplicable, the unrelenting demands and intense hierarchy to which elite firms subject their junior lawyers are inextricably linked to the firms’ chief claim to their prestige and their enormous incomes—the sometimes explicit boast that Biglaw can handle any legal issue, at any time, with superb competence and matchless speed. Powell provides the reader a unique window onto an associate’s day-by-day life in an elite firm, while showing how the details make a harrowing kind of sense in the light of these firms’ structure and modes of operation. Neither an expose nor a whitewash, her book employs telling anecdotes and savvy advice in crafting an informed and intensely practical guide to survival as an associate in Biglaw. But her insights into elite law practice will be of equal interest to anyone seeking to understand one of our society’s most powerful institutions.

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Asa Rountree, Humor in the Salt Mines: A Master Lawyer's Guide to Associate Success (Lorna G. Schofield ed., 2013). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (KF300 .R683 2013)

Publisher's description:

Humor in the Salt Mines: A Master Lawyer's Guide to Associate Success collects Asa Rountree's well-honed views on how to practice law. His advice is not just timeless and true, but funny and practical. It also hints at the great pleasure that can be had in aiming for excellence as a lawyer. Asa's memos shaped generations of lawyers who had the good fortune to work with him. This book collects these memos, making them available to a wider audience. At the direction of Helen Hill Rountree, the proceeds of this book will be used to help finance good works of the ABA Section of Litigation, of which Asa was a founding member and Chair.

Humor in the Salt Mines cover

Deborah Schneider & Gary Belsky, Should You Really Be a Lawyer?  The Guide to Smart Career Choices Before, During & After Law School (2d ed. 2010). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (KF297 .S36 2010)

Publisher's description:

Are you sure you're making the right decision to get into ... or remain ... in law?<>/p

Of all the books for unhappy lawyers and ambivalent law students, this is the ONLY one examining the decision-making traps that got you where you are now ... and offers some helpful tools to get you unstuck.

This book should be mandatory reading. It raises questions students should ask (but don't) before spending a fortune on law school.” – Stanford law adviser

" A valuable guide for anyone considering law school ... especially for those bright liberal arts majors who find themselves in a panic after graduation." -- The Washington Post

Should You Really Be a Lawyer cover

Janine A. Scott, Legal Aid Wealth: Surviving & Thriving On The Salary Of A Public Interest Attorney (2009). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (KF299.P8 S36 2009)

Publisher's description:

Attorney and financial coach Janine Scott shares her expertise in creating wealth and living the life of your dreams as a public interest attorney. In her book, Janine provides concrete Action Plans so that you can:

  • Identify your values to achieve your financial goals
  • Create a Spending Plan
  • Pay your student loans
  • Save for retirement
  • Buy a home
  • Eliminate credit card debt
  • Survive financial setbacks
Legal Aid Wealth cover

Marcia Pennington Shannon, The Lawyer's Career Management Handbook: Your Bridge to a Satisfying Career (2010). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (KF297 .L374 2010)

Publisher's description:

The Lawyer's Career Management Handbook provides readers with tools for creating a rewarding career inside or outside of the legal industry. Renowned experts in legal career advising show how happy and satisfied individuals with law degrees have discovered what motivates, energizes, and even excites them about their work. You'll find advice and exercises on:

  • Career assessment
  • Job searches
  • Application materials
  • Interviews
  • Offer evaluation and negotiation
  • Transitioning from law school to the legal profession
Lawyer's Career Management Handbook cover

Richard E. Susskind, Tomorrow's Lawyers: An Introduction to Your Future (2013). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (K120 .S87 2013)

Publisher's description:

  • The first introduction for young and aspiring lawyers to the new legal landscape and how to succeed in it
  • A revised and updated vision of the future, by one of the world's leading experts whose past predictions for the law have generally come to pass
  • Provides solutions to major concerns within the legal profession, such as diminishing public funding, and explores alternative roles for future lawyers in a world increasingly dominated by IT
  • Identifies new employers for lawyers of the future and equips young lawyers with questions to ask prospective employers
Tomorrow's Lawyers cover

Julie Tower-Pierce, Staying at Home, Staying in the Law: A Guide to Remaining Active in the Legal Profession While Pursuing Your Dreams (2008). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (KF299.W6 T68 2008)

Publisher's description:

Many leave the legal profession on a temporary basis, because of illness, to raise a child, or simply pursue other interests. But does leaving the profession mean saying goodbye to your career? Julie Tower-Pierce challenges the traditional view of the legal profession as "either you're in or you're out", and explains how to "stay-at-home" while keeping your foot in the door of legal practice.

This book will show you the "gray" areas that exist for practicing law while still remaining committed to your primary interest. It's written to serve as a practical and comprehensive desk companion for lawyers looking to pursue dreams, passions, or interests which are separate and independent from the practice of law, but without giving up the law. It's a book about the value of investing in yourself and multifaceted rewards of that investment.

Through tips, resources, and experiences shared by dozens of attorneys, this book offers advice on everything from devising your transition plan and redefining your success, to staying active, and making money from home. Alternative full-time and part-time careers are discussed, including freelance writing, pro-bono opportunities, telework, and compressed workweek options. Other options discussed include, job share, contract work, government work, non-profit work and academia. Finally, the book discusses how to transition smoothly back into the law, if you want to, and provides a helpful list of resources on the subject.

Staying at Home, Staying in the Law cover



Books on Careers Generally (Not Just Law)

Po Bronson, What Should I Do with My Life? The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question (2003). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (BF637.S4 B869 2003), Odegaard Undergraduate Library (BF637 .S4 B79 2003)

Publisher's description:

In What Should I Do with My Life? Po Bronson tells the inspirational true stories of people who have found the most meaningful answers to that great question. With humor, empathy, and insight, Bronson writes of remarkable individuals—from young to old, from those just starting out to those in a second career—who have overcome fear and confusion to find a larger truth about their lives and, in doing so, have been transformed by the experience. What Should I Do with My Life?struck a powerful, resonant chord on publication, causing a multitude of people to rethink their vocations and priorities and start on the path to finding their true place in the world. For this edition, Bronson has added nine new profiles, to further reflect the range and diversity of those who broke away from the chorus to learn the sound of their own voice.

Author's website (includes 10 sample chapters)

What Should I Do with My Life cover

Paul D. Tieger & Barbara Barron-Tieger, Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type (2007). Odegaard Undergraduate Library Stacks (BF698.9.O3 T54 2007)

Publisher's description:

Already a classic in the genre, Do What You Are has helped hundreds of thousands of people find truly satisfying work. Do What You Are introduces Personality Type - how you process information, make decisions and interact with the world around you - and shows you which of the 16 types describes you best. It lists dozens of occupations that are popular with people of your type. Then, using workbook exercises and real-life examples to highlight the strengths and pitfalls of each personality type, it shows you step-by-step how to use your unique strengths to customise your job search, ensuring the best results in the shortest period of time. And if you plan to stay in your job, Do What You Are provides savvy advice for getting the most out of your current career. Every other career guide offers generic, one-size-fits-all advice. But because it is based on personality type, Do What You Are helps you determine what you need to be more successful and satisfied.


Nonlegal Careers for Lawyers

Deborah L. Arron, Running from the Law: Why Good Lawyers Are Getting out of the Legal Profession (3d ed. 2004). Gallagher Law Library Reference Area KF297.A87 2004

Publisher's description:

Back in 1988, TIME Magazine hailed this book for breaking the code of silence: that lawyers were unhappy and burned out from stress, hostility, and the demand for more billable hours.
Old news? You kidding? In fact, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Now 20 years later, this book continues to offer insight to lawyers motivated to make the Big Break.
This third edition features original interviews with several practitioners who left the law to find greater personal and/or financial rewards. See how they did it.
Running from the Law cover

Gary A. Munneke, William D. Henslee & Elaine S. Wayne, Nonlegal Careers for Lawyers (5th ed. 2006). Gallagher Law Library Reference Area KF297.M85 2006

Publisher's description:

Perhaps you are a law student who realizes that practicing law is not what you want to do. Or maybe you are a practicing lawyer who no longer feels satisfied with your work. If you feel it's time for a change, this newly revised guidebook will show you what you can do with your law degree, besides practice law. More importantly, this book will illustrate how to use your legal skills to rise above the competition.

Learn in detail what opportunities exist in these fields:

  • Business and Industry—jobs in corporations; accounting firms; media companies; health care and pharmaceutical companies; engineering firms; real estate sales; high-tech companies; and more.
  • Government and Public Service—positions in the executive, judicial and legislative branch.
  • Associations and Institutions&mdash:careers in professional associations; PACS, lobbying, and campaigns; national and international service organizations, publishing companies; educational institutions; unions; and more.
  • Entrepreneurial Ventures—opportunities for consultants, agents, writers, counselors, investigators, informational technology specialists, and more.

In this guide, the authors lead you step by step through the process of assessing the special skills that legal training provides, choosing a nonlegal career, and conducting a nonlegal job search. In addition, they provide you with essential information about a variety of careers in business and industry, government and public service, associations and institutions, and entrepreneurial ventures.

To help you with the task of locating additional useful information on nonlegal careers, the book also contains a valuable resource section featuring surveys, descriptions of nonlegal careers, and a listing of publishers and publications, as well as suggested readings on nonlegal careers.

Larry Richard et al., The New What Can You Do With A Law Degree? A Lawyer's Guide to Career Alternatives Inside, Outside & Around the Law (Rev. ed. 2012. Gallagher Law Library Reference Area (KF297 .A875 2012)

Publisher's description:

Being a lawyer is not just a job, it’s an identity that defines who you are, how you think, and what you believe you can do in the world. But is it an identity that will make you happy? At the heart of this workbook is a proprietary, 5-part Lawyer Career Satisfaction Model that you can use as a lens to see whether you should stay in law, or look for a law-related work … or leave law far behind. This workbook contains numerous career exercises, practical career-finding techniques, and a compendium of 800+ ways to use your law degree inside, outside or around the law.

The New What Can You Do with a Law Degree cover

M. Diane Vogt, Preparing for Reentry: What Lawyers Need to Know to Navigate the Road Ahead After a Career Break(2009). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (KF298 .V64 2009)

Publisher's description:

Practicing law is one of the most flexible, lucrative, fulfilling, intellectually stimulating, and rewarding professions available to Americans today. Legal careers can and often do span more than fifty years, and taking a break from law practice is normal, worthwhile, and manageable. Returning to practice afterward is not an insurmountable brick wall, but an opportunity to strategically build and improve upon the last level of practice achieved.

In this handy guide, successful lawyer and author M. Diane Vogt shares her own personal tools, tips, and techniques to help you navigate your way back into the practice of law. In the author's own words, this book contains everything she wishes she could have known as her own legal career developed over twenty-eight years as she took breaks from legal work and returned successfully to a practice even better than the one she left.

You'll find out how to develop better strategies to achieve the quality of life, practice quality, and personal fulfillment issues that had become increasingly important to everyone. This book contains the best and most useful information and suggestions to help you pilot your own successful reentry into the field of law, and achieve your personal plan for growth. 

With this book you'll find the practical advice you need to manage a critical phase of your career, rather than having your career dictate how you live your life. This book is perfect for men or women, new lawyer or seasoned veteran--anyone who looks toward moving back into the field of law.

Topics Include:

--Return of the Champions
--Reenter Your Ideal Practice
--Making the Most of the Lawyer Personality 
--Getting Your Head in the Game
--Supreme Role Models 
--Timing the Trip
--Navigating Reentry
--Navigating Reentry into Large Law Firms
--Work/Life Balance
--Roadblocks for Mothers
-- and much, much more



Skimming local or national bar publications and legal newspapers can help you get to know different types of practice. They often have articles about practice, articles about attorneys, and profiles of firms.

Washington State Bar News. Monthly.  KF332.W3W354, current at Reference Area. HeinOnline.
For essays about solo practice, search the archives for "Jeff Tolman."

De Novo (WSBA's Young Lawyers Division). Six times a year. KF332.W3W359d, current issues at Reference Area

Bar Bulletin (King County Bar Association). Monthly. Current issues at Newspapers

Trial News (Washington State Trial Lawyers Association). Monthly. Current issues at Newspapers

National Law Journal. Weekly. Current issues at Newspapers. LexisNexis, Westlaw

ABA Journal. Monthly. Current issues at Reference Area, older in Classified Stacks (KF332.I5 A6). HeinOnline, LexisNexis, Westlaw

Student Lawyer (ABA Law Student Division). Monthly. KF287.S77, current issues at Reference Area. Each issue has at least one article about careers and job hunting.

GPSOLO (ABA General Practice, Solo, and Small Firm Section). KF297.A1C65 at Classified Stacks

Corporate Counsel (WSBA Corporate Law Department Section). KF332.W3W359co at Classified Stacks


Advice about the Job Search Process


ABA Career Counsel

  • Separate tabs for job seekers and employers
  • Career Resources links to articles and podcasts

Lawjobs.com (part of American Lawyer Media) offers legal job ads. The Careerist blog has posts on job-hunting, work-life balance, law firm culture, etc.

Monster.com offers a variety of features. Career Advice has articles about job-hunting and work life.

Vault offers articles, career advice, and job ads. Choose Law under Industries & Professions for links to articles, law firm directories, and other job-hunting advice.

Findlaw's Law Career Center has an extensive array of articles, career advice and job ads.

AttorneyJobs.com, owned by Thomson Reuters, offers some free services to job-hunters and employers and other services for a fee. Material in Career Resources section is free.

Check out posts from Gallagher Blogs tagged career. From the pre-blog days, see these Legal Career Tips from the Law Library News section of the Crier.



Many of the books listed above about legal careers include advice on the job search. In addition, see:

Valerie A. Fontaine, The Right Moves: Job Search and Career Development Strategies for Lawyers (2d ed. 2013)

Publisher's description:

Search consultant Valerie Fontaine shares proven secrets for success in a changing legal marketplace.Unlike the many books addressed to law students and new lawyers, Fontaine’s book is meant for lawyers at all stages of their careers — including partners — and for lawyers who want to position themselves for success within their current organizations as well as lawyers seeking a transition. This substantially revised second edition includes extensive commentary on continuing changes in the way law is being practiced today.

The Right Moves (2d) cover

Richard L. Hermann, From Lemons to Lemonade: Winning Job Search Strategies for Entry-Level Attorneys (2012).  Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (KF297 .H437 2012)

Publisher's description:

New from lawyer/law career counselor Richard Hermann, this is the first in a three-volume "New Lawyer's Survival Guide" series. In this volume, Hermann offers law students and new lawyers sure-fire strategies for cracking the toughest job market in 80 years; tips on enhancing one's credentials to maximize job and career opportunities; 21 effective job search techniques to improve one's competitive status; and 800+ areas of employment inside, outside and around the traditional practice of law. As the co-founder of Federal Reports Inc., AttorneyJobs.com, and Law Student Jobs Online, the author brings a rich background in the industry to the advice he offers.

“This book is intended to compensate for the largest omission in the law school curriculum: how to position yourself to find a good job.” – Richard Hermann

Sheila Nielsen, Job Quest for Lawyers: The Essential Guide to Finding and Landing the Job You Want (2011). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (KF297 .N54 2011)

Publisher's description:

Job Quest for Lawyers provides step-by-step guidance that finally makes networking inspiring instead of a chore. The "quest" motif applies to each stage of the job search, and is used to help readers understand how to create a positive and effective networking experience. The book demystifies networking by including illustrations from the author's own experiences and from the stories of her clients that provide examples of the real world do's and don'ts of how to conduct a productive job search. Unlike so many other career books, Job Quest for Lawyers is a process-focused book that is eminently applicable to attorneys at all phases of their careers, from new graduates to senior lawyers. Lawyers at all stages of practice will benefit from reading this book.

Job Quest for Lawyers

Susan R. Sneider, A Lawyer's Guide to Networking (2006). Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (KF316.5 .S64 2006)

Publisher's description:

This hands-on workbook is an invaluable tool for lawyers at all stages of their professional life, from law students to high-level professionals transitioning careers. Filled with practical advice, folk wisdom, academic theory, and tips from some leading members of the bar, this book covers networking from the basics of an "elevator pitch" to the role it plays in business development, internal relations, job searches and leadership in the profession and in the community.

Kimm Alayne Walton, Guerrilla Tactics for Getting the Legal Job of Your Dreams (2d ed. 2008). Gallagher Law Library Reference Area (KF297 .W34 2008)

Publisher's description:

This work is the key to getting the legal job of your dreams. It leads you step-by-step through everything you need to do to nail down that perfect job. You'll learn hundreds of simple-to-use strategies that will get you exactly where you want to go. For additional career resources, visit the AttorneyJobs Web site.






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