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Career Story: Corporate Lawyer With Unconventional Duties

Corporate Lawyer With Unconventional Duties

Job Title: Attorney

Type of Company: My law firm handles corporate law and litigation matters. In addition, we offer counsel on labor and employment issues, tax and benefits, creditors' rights, and private client services. Our clients range in size from large to small companies and include financial institutions, government agencies, hospitals and health care organizations, colleges and universities, and families and individuals.

Education: BA, Religion, Washington University •• MLS, Library Science, Simmons College (Boston, MA) •• JD, Cardozo School of Law (New York, NY)

Previous Experience: I started work as staff attorney at legal services and then became assistant attorney general in New York State. I then was a contract attorney at a large plaintiff's class action law firm.

Job Tasks: I am responsible for writing policies that relate to the associates at the firm. The policies address who it is lawyers should go to if they want approval or payment for taking the bar exam, getting admitted to practice and registering each year to the bar. I answer all questions that have to do with bar related matters. At times I have to research the requirements of different state or federal jurisdictions. Currently, I am overseeing a project in which associates are encouraged to take off a year from the firm and go out to the community and perform public interest law. I am in touch with each person who is interested and answer all their questions. I help them as they decide if this is the best path in their career and answer any of their questions.

I also put together regular reports that summarize the most active litigation cases that we handle. I write up summaries of the matters and we publish this report and circulate it to everyone in the litigation department. This allows all attorneys to be aware of the variety of cases that we handle.

I also send out an email once a week to the litigation department and give highlights of the most recent decisions that have been made by courts on any of our cases.

I also am responsible for accepting legal documents that are brought to the firm.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: What I like the best about my job is that it is varied. Each day I am involved in many different projects. Since I have been at the firm, each year has been different. Depending on the needs of the firm, I have been asked to be involved in different projects. I work with smart people and I like the intellectual challenge.

What I don't like is the pressure and long hours. People expect you to respond to requests almost immediately and you are expected to complete projects as quickly as possible.

Job Tips: I think it is important that you get a good idea of the various opportunities today in practicing law. Many people who go to law school have no idea what lawyers do and are sometimes disappointed when they graduate and start working.

Also, the job opportunities today are limited. Public interest organizations are limited in funds and cannot hire as many attorneys as they need. Business is down so firms are also not hiring.

While you may go into law to make a good living, remember that you have the ability to help people in need. Consider doing some public interest law or even if you are in private practice, take time to do pro bono work, helping those in need even if it is not part of your regular law practice.

Additional Thoughts: There are opportunities to use your law degree in an unconventional way. The work I am doing requires me to have a law degree. However, I do not see clients. My legal training and experience put me in a position to apply for a variety of jobs that are not what you would think of. Think expansively when you think of what you would do with a law degree. Also, remember that if you go into law, you have the tools and training to help society and those less fortunate.

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