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Career Story: Lawyer And Estate Planner

Lawyer And Estate Planner

Job Title: Attorney

Type of Company: Since 1987 I have been a solo practitioner of law - specializing mostly in tax, corporate, and probate law. Prior to 1987 I was also the managing partner of a law firm in which I practiced these specialties. In addition to practicing law, I have been an arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association for over 40 years.

Education: BS, Economics, Political Science and Mathematics, MIT; •• LLB, Yale Law School •• LLM, NYU Law School

Previous Experience: No previous relevant jobs.

Job Tasks: My key duty is to assist people of moderate to modest means to plan the disposition of their assets in case of death. I help them plan in the context of their personal situation and advise them on the impact of estate taxes. I also prepare the necessary documents to deal with possible incompetency or serious illness. In the case of the death of a client, I assist in the process of probate, which is the process whereby assets pass from a decedent to his heirs or other legatees in the manner specified in the client's will. Frequently the client wants a portion of his assets to be distributed to one or more charities, and I assist with the planning.

Another key duty and responsibility is to assist people who want to start or acquire a business. I advise on the form of the business entity (corporation, limited liability company, partnership, etc.) and handle the necessary legal requirements. As issues arise in the course of the operation of the business - employment contracts, buy-sell agreements, leases, bank loans, licenses, etc. - I advise the client and assist in putting his decisions into effect.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my work is accomplishing the objectives of a client where there are serious impediments to these goals. Implementing a strategy and then seeing it succeed is very gratifying.

The worst part is billing the client. I hate to actually tell the client he owes me money, though I appreciate that this is a very necessary part of my profession! Accordingly, I have always tended to underbill for my services.

Job Tips:
1.) Read widely: history, fiction, non-fiction, whatever. Use your reading to develop a good vocabulary.

2.) Develop good people skills. Learn how to carry on a conversation with almost anyone. Learn to listen.

3.) Develop your ability to concentrate and pay attention to details.

Additional Thoughts: There is a saying "Law is a jealous mistress". The meaning is that a career as a lawyer is consuming - it is difficult to balance your career, and the pursuit of advancement within that career - with other interests, such as family, friends, and hobbies. The trick is to recognize this tension and to consciously decide what you want and what you have to do to achieve your objectives. In my case, I wanted a wife, 2.8 children and a house with a white picket fence. I got all that and more, but my career suffered. I did not realize the full potential of my training and intellect. Still, I have no real regrets.

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