Many of you have been asking questions about the best way to break into the legal field (newly-admitted attorneys) or return to the field (lawyers who have taken a break). In fact, I recently received a question from an IT/corporate transactional attorney who took a quasi-sabbatical for a few years and wants to get back into the game. For those of you in this position (in particular those of you who have corporate transaction experience), I’m happy to say that there are a few, somewhat avant-garde options for jobs.
As we all know, the world is becoming smaller and smaller each year. With the technology options we have all come to appreciate (and depend upon), it’s really quite possible to work from home and anywhere in the world at the same time. In my research, I came across a few interesting statistics about global legal work, as well. Consider this: U.S. drug companies’ foreign profits have quadrupled between 1997 and 2008 while domestic profits fell by a third. (Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Scherling-Plough – which recently merged). Coca Cola gets 64 percent of its sales and 79 percent of its profits from foreign lands. The companies listed below earn between 50-80 percent of profits/revenue from international sources.
Procter & Gamble
I see it as a legal area that growing, and I think attorneys should embrace the change! So, what does this mean for you, the attorney who has a couple of gaps in the resume? This means have an open mind and explore an international job as a possibility. Could you spend one week a month in Tokyo? How about a couple of months each year in Buenos Aires? If this sounds like something of interest, pursue it. You’ll be ahead of the curve, and the jobs may not be as competitive as they have been in the US for the last 18 months or so. (Keep in mind during your search that being multi-lingual will most likely be preferred, if not required.)
Check out some of the international bar organizations. A great place to start may be HG. It appears that there could be endless amounts of information here. In addition, you could always search on US-based firms in the international department. Although these are good jumping off points, they are most likely the routes that most job searchers will take. In addition to the “traditional” job search methods, try something a little different. Make some phone calls to the international offices. Speak with a lawyer in the office, and ask to take an informational meeting via Skype. Look for international law seminars and conferencesand try to attend, or at least get the information from the seminar. (There may be a book or video available for purchase after the seminar.) Don’t overlook the importance of looking for in-house legal jobs, as well. If you’re interested in a particular company, check out the website and see what legal jobs are open. If no jobs are open, contact the HR department and set up a Skype meeting. If you have any relatives who live outside of the US, now may be a great time to plan a visit. (Be sure to set up some informational interviews for your trip!)
For those of you who aren’t really interested in the international thing and want to re-enter the legal job force on your own terms, consider doing it the American way – start your own firm! That was my take on the situation. My daughters arrived the second year of law school and during the California bar. I practiced law part-time for six years to accommodate my Mom status; and once they started school, I looked around in dismay and thought, “What next?” I believed a traditional law firm would likely not take a relatively self-trained USC Law grad, and I rather liked being my own boss. So in 1997 I started Swan Legal Search and began hiring former practicing attorneys (mostly moms). Fifteen years later, I’m still here!
I hope that one of these options speaks to you. Of course, the traditional US-based law firm is always an option, as well. As is always the key in any job search, you’ve got to network like crazy and let everyone you know understand that you’re looking for a job. (For more information on networking, check out the series posted earlier this year.) Although it may be challenging, you will most certainly find something that best suits your strengths.
If you have more questions about re-entering the legal job market, please do not hesitate to contact us or leave a comment, below! We’re happy to help.