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Recent Posts (Scroll Down Page for Full Archive)
Success Story: Lawyer Turned Stand Up Comic
Success Story: Talmage Boston: Litigator Doubles as Baseball Historian
Success Story: Andy Broder: Lawyer-Turned-Chef
Success Story: Deborah King: From Law to Healing
Success Story: Terry Carter: From Law to Luxury Body Care Products
Success Story: Steven Wallace: From Tax Lawyer to Chocolatier
Success Story: Joanne Sternlieb on the Joys and Challenges of Solo Practice
Success Story: Steve Zikman: From Law to Travel Guru
Success Story: Rosanne Pennella: From Litigation to Professional Photography
Success Story: Bruce MacEwen: Blogging on Law Firm Economics
Success Story: Avi Muchnick: From Law to Photoshop Entrepreneur
Success Story: Patrick Della Valle: Leveraging Employment Law Expertise Into An Internet Business
Success Story: Daniel Klau: Successful Litigator Uses Music To Vent About Billable Hours
Success Story: Christiane Cargill Wins Toyota "Moving Forward" Award
Success Story: Julie Richmond: Litigator Turned Cartographic Connoisseur
Success Story: Calvita J. Frederick-Sowell: From Law to Tea Maven
Success Story: Margaret Denton: The In-House Counsel Career Path
Success Story: Jim Durham: Seizing Opportunities
Success Story: Lawyer Turned Furniture Manufacturer
Success Story: Warren Brown: Litigator Turned Baker
Success Story: Karina Ayala-Bermejo: A Career Dedicated to Helping Others
Success Story: Margaret Minister O'Keefe: Overseeing Licensing at Angela Adams Designs
Success Story: Matthew Homann: Bringing Innovation to the Practice of Law
Success Story: William Brotherton: Mixing Law, Railroading, Acting, and More
Success Story: Jeff Brooke: Partner Spends Five Year Sabbatical Sailing Around the World
Success Story: Flory Herman: Turning a Personal Experience with Adoption Into a New Legal Practice and Documentary Film
Success Story: Brod Bagert: From Law to Children's Poetry
Success Story: Drew Oliver: From Law to Stuffed Microbes
Success Story: Carolyn Elefant: How to Go Solo
Success Story: Joel Ruben - Litigator Brings Joy to Others Through Music

Success Stories
July 31, 2006
Success Story: Lawyer Turned Stand Up Comic
For some time, Scottish lawyer Susan Calman, 34, had been leading a double life, working as a standup comic at night, and working as a lawyer by day. This June she decided to make the leap and quit her £50,000-a-year career as a corporate lawyer with Dundas & Wilson in June to pursue stand-up comedy full time.

Calman thinks her legal training will help her in her new career: "You have to be quick on your feet as a lawyer. ."

See writeups on Calman's career change in the Scottish press here and here.

 



July 25, 2006
Success Story: Talmage Boston: Litigator Doubles as Baseball Historian
Talmage Boston is a seasoned litigator working out of the Dallas office of Winstead Sechrest & Minick P.C. where he is one of only 70 lawyers in Texas who are board certified in both Civil Trial Law and Civil Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

Then there's Boston's other career - that of a baseball historian and writer. Boston's passion for baseball is quickly evident from the healthy display of baseball memorabilia adorning his office: bats used by Ty Cobb, Joe Jackson and Lou Gehrig; replicas of Fenway Park; and a picture of Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio with former President Bush.

And then there's Boston's book - 1939: Baseball's Tipping Point, which chronicles the pivotal 1939 season during which the Baseball Hall of Fame opened, the Little League was founded, and a baseball game was first broadcast on television. It was also Ted Williams' first season and Lou Gehrig's tragic last season. You can
buy Boston's book on Amazon.

Read Boston's full profile below.

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



July 21, 2006
Success Story: Andy Broder: Lawyer-Turned-Chef
Andy Broder is an Arizona native with degrees in English Literature and Law from the University of Arizona. After practicing law for 12 years in Phoenix, Andy attended the Scottsdale Culinary Institute. He maintained a 4.0 grade-point average and was a graduation speaker. He did his externship at the Los Angeles Times, working in the Food Section developing and testing recipes, writing about food and food styling. Now he is the proud owner of AndyFood - a culinary studio in Phoenix with classes for everyone from the experienced home/hobby cook to the culinary neophyte.

Read more about Broder and AndyFood.

 



July 10, 2006
Success Story: Deborah King: From Law to Healing
According to her website, master healer Deborah King was a successful real estate attorney and hotel developer who was plagued by longstanding health problems that worsened over the years. After she experienced a remarkable physical healing from a healer, she jumped ship and left the reality of the corporate workplace for the less tangible world of healers, sages and shamans. After years of study with a variety of healers from different religious and cultural traditions, King ultimately earned a Ph.D. in Healing Science. Today she shares her healing gift and the lessons she has learned on her journey with a variety of clients in her private practice in Los Angeles and conducts Deborah King Healing Events across the country and around the world.

Read more about King's remarkable life transition from law to healing here.

 



June 19, 2006
Success Story: Terry Carter: From Law to Luxury Body Care Products
How does one transition from IP law to pitching luxury spa products to celebrities? Ask Terry Carter. In a career path that has taken considerable twists and turns, Terry started off as an international diplomat working for an agency of the Japanese government, then graduated law school and took up a position as in-house counsel at a Southern California technology company. Thereafter, he moved to a non-legal role analyzing data and policy issues for a major title company. Sounds pretty staid except that, on the side, Carter was busy concocting body washes and hand creams using botanical and other natural ingredients.

That passion soon turned into a business - Travertine Spa, Inc. Now Terry finds himself presiding over a line of over 20 luxury body-care and aromatherapy spa products for men and women sold through upscale salons and spas, and the company's web site, and at celebrity venues such as the pre-Oscar party. .

Terry's advice to other attorneys seeking an alternate career?  Life is too short to say, “I can’t” or “I’m afraid.”  Whatever your passion is, only you can make the commitment to pursue it.  Once you get through the mental roadblocks and fear, the entrepreneurial experience can be one of inexpressible joy.


[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



April 23, 2006
Success Story: Steven Wallace: From Tax Lawyer to Chocolatier
Steve Wallace fell in love with Ghana after a semester as an exchange student in the country 27 years ago. The reunion was a long time in coming.

Initially, Wallace started his career practicing tax law in Washington. He abandoned that path in 1988 to return to Milwaukee to work in the family's sportswear business.

Wallace was soon tinkering with recipes for a dark milk chocolate tailored to the U.S. palate. In 1992, he returned to Ghana to visit a factory that manufactured chocolate for the Ghanian market. He soon finalized an agreement for the factory to manufacture chocolate under his new brand - Omanhene - which means "paramount chief" in Ghana and refers to the most senior political and spiritual leader.

Omanhene's product line now includes a dark-chocolate bar, with 80% cocoa content; two iced-frappe mixes: Madagascar White and Double Chocolate; and an 80% cocoa bar, also sold in larger bars designed for pastry chefs, and a mint cocoa powder mix.

Bars are sold as far away as Japan, in local retail stores, and through the company's
website.

Read Wallace's full profile below.

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



April 11, 2006
Success Story: Joanne Sternlieb on the Joys and Challenges of Solo Practice
Joanne R. Sternlieb's "flex-time" trusts and estates practice -- operated out of her home -- is a far cry from the sixty hour weeks she used to put in as an associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. The practice employs four lawyers and two assistants who also work out of their own homes, on their own schedules, whenever they want. There are no set hours, no billable-hour requirements, no guaranteed hours, and no guaranteed pay - Sternlieb's only requirement is that they get the job done (whether at two in the afternoon or two in the morning).

Sternlieb's flexible schedule offers her the best of both worlds: more time with family and a successful career. Sternlieb says that her goal is "to use my firm as a role model for other law firms to show that you can create an environment where women (and men if they so choose) can work flexible schedules and be successful."

Read Sternlieb's full profile below.

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



March 3, 2006
Success Story: Steve Zikman: From Law to Travel Guru
Steve Zikman started out his legal career at the leading Canadian law firm of Goodman and Carr. After four years, he left the firm to fulfill his dream of setting out on a three-year, around-the-world journey. Zikman spent the first year in Africa, the second in Europe, and then headed to Asia. The journey was an incredibly powerful and transformative experience, and ultimately persuaded Zikman to change careers and become a writer focused on travel.

Zikman's first book was The Power of Travel: A Passport to Discovery, Adventure & Growth. It was a pioneering effort among global travel books in that it focused on travel as a means to finding perspective and balance in one’s life. Zikman has also co-authored the bestselling series titles, Chicken Soup for the Traveler’s Soul and Chicken Soup for the Nature Lover’s Soul, and even won a North American Travel Journalists Association Award. His most recent book is Doing Good for Goodness’ Sake.
 
Zikman's latest venture is
The Next Fork - an effort to help others experience self-discovery and personal growth through travel revolving around particular concepts and themes for groups of 12 to 18 people. Zikman acts as the facilitator for group discussions and interactions during the trip.  One such program is called Journeys for Attorneys, which provides private trips to law firms searching for more effective and creative retention strategies, incentive/team building programs for summer students or associates, or innovative partners' retreats.

Read Zikman's full profile below.

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



February 21, 2006
Success Story: Rosanne Pennella: From Litigation to Professional Photography
Rosanne Pennella started her career working with federal judges and then as a litigator for top firms. Then one day she received her first camera -- a Nikon N90s -- as a Christmas gift. A few years later she quit her job as an attorney, and with two N90s cameras and a bag of Nikkor lenses ranging from 20 to 200mm, she decided to pursue photography full time for five years and see if things worked out.

Readers will be happy to know that Pennella has achieved success in her new field -- on August 1, 2005, Nikon announced that it was honoring Pennella's work in its inspiring monthly, "Legends Behind the Lens."


For those interested in learning more about Pennella's work, we encourage you to visit her
website. Among numerous shoots in exotic locales, Pennella has photographed the rainforest of Borneo, former headhunters of New Guinea, puja rituals on the Ganges River in India, cremation ceremonies in Bali, the mystical landscapes of China, villages in northern Thailand, tribal warriors in Kenya, as well as the cloud forest of Central America.

What is remarkable about Pennella's story is the rigorous approach she took to her career change - she spent considerable time analyzing her strengths and passions and how best to combine them into a satisfying career, while at the same time preparing her finances to support herself for five years while she learned her new craft.

Read Pennella's full profile below.

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



February 6, 2006
Success Story: Bruce MacEwen: Blogging on Law Firm Economics
Bruce MacEwen was an economics major in college who was attracted to the analytical aspects of law. After graduating law school, he started out in litigation, but disliked all the "thrust and parry." MacEwen transitioned to securities law, which eventually led to a position with the in-house department at what is now Morgan Stanley Dean Witter.

After 10 years at Morgan Stanley, MacEwen took a shot at starting up his own dot.com - an online portal for connecting Fortune 500 companies and AmLaw 200 law firms. The company was ultimately unable to secure adequate funding before the "market crash," but MacEwen had found his passion: bringing professionalism to the economics and management of large law firms.

Today, MacEwen consults with large law firms on managing the business side of legal practice. The centerpiece of MacEwen's practice is his blog - Adam Smith, Esq. - through which he regularly shares his thoughts and analyses on economic issues facing law firms. The blog - which now boasts over 90,000 visitors a month - has positioned MacEwen as a thought leader.

MacEwen's advice to dissatisfied lawyers? "Once you decide what you’re passionate about, the stars will align, you’ll know where you’re going, and you’ll be open to taking advantage of the new opportunities you see."

Read the full profile below.

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



January 17, 2006
Success Story: Avi Muchnick: From Law to Photoshop Entrepreneur
Prior to starting law school in January 2002, Avi Muchnick, launched worth1000.com as a community site revolving around the concept of "photoshopping," that is, using Adobe's PhotoshopTM application to alter photos, typically for purposes of parody or satire. The site essentially allows graphic designers to enter their most creative images into various contest categories to be judged by their peers according to a strict set of guidelines.

What initially started out as a way to pay the rent while Muchnick attended law school, has evolved into an immensely popular site that attracts over 100,000 unique visitors a day, has over 250,000 registered members, and has spawned a book (When Pancakes Go Bad), and merchandising deals with companies such as Universal Pictures. The key to success, Muchnick explains, has been viral marketing as graphic designers share their images with each other and third parties, including the media (Worth1000.com's URL is embedded in every image submitted to the site).

Click the link below to read Muchnick's full profile.

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



January 2, 2006
Success Story: Patrick Della Valle: Leveraging Employment Law Expertise Into An Internet Business

Patrick Della Valle started off his legal career practicing management-side employment law at major law firms; he worked at Kelley Drye & Warren, Mudge Rose Guthrie Alexander & Ferdon, and Hughes, Hubbard & Reed. While at Mudge Rose, Patrick assisted partner and former Federal District Court Judge Kenneth Conboy in his capacity as the Election Appeals Master for the 1996 Teamster's national elections. Della Valle also assisted editors in revising the leading labor law treatise, the American Bar Association's Developing Labor Law, and the leading employment law treatise, Schlei and Grossman's Employment Discrimination.

After 10 years practicing employment litigation, Della Valle began to feel disenchanted with the law. In his own words, "I couldn’t look back on anything that I had created." He also felt that law wasn't providing the kind of risk-taking and creative environment he sought.

Intrigued by the Internet, Della Valle took a nine-month course in web programming and then used his training to build an Internet portal that would connect employment lawyers, in-house employment counsel and human resource professionals. The site was dubbed ELIN, the Employment Law Information Network.

At this stage, in a typical month, ELIN has 60,000 to 70,000 unique visitors and more than 170,000 page views. Della Valle attributes alot of the traffic to the site's high ranking in search engines such as Google for phrases like "employment law."

Della Valle has no regrets about leaving law: "With my own business I can be creative, take risks, and see long-term projects through to completion. It’s very positive and affirmative to build and control something myself.."

Click below for Della Valle's full profile.

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



November 23, 2005
Success Story: Daniel Klau: Successful Litigator Uses Music To Vent About Billable Hours
Daniel Klau enjoys the substantive side of his media and privacy litigation practice as a partner at the Connecticut-based law firm of Pepe Hazard: learning the details of a new matter, crafting a case, convincing a court to accept his argument.

However, he admits to some disenchantment with the business side: things like documenting billable time and other administrative tasks.

Klau's outlet is music - his Billable Hour Blues sound track features a collection of original songs and musical parodies, in which Klau sings about the trials and tribulations of being a young associate, lawyers who couldn’t give a client a straight answer if their life depended on it, the joy of bringing someone to the brink of tears during cross-examination, and more.

Sample lyrics:

My life is a time sheet
Filled with six-minute slots
I know I make good money
But my stomach’s tied in knots

Click below to read Klau's full profile.

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



November 14, 2005
Success Story: Christiane Cargill Wins Toyota "Moving Forward" Award

We wrote a "Success Story" about Christiane Cargill on January 31, 2005 celebrating her ability to juggle a successful legal career with her role as lead singer, composer and pianist for a band and founder of an organization to help abused and disadvantaged children achieve self-expression through music - see the profile here.

We are happy to say that since that time, GLAMOUR magazine and Toyota have recognized Cargill and two other women with "Moving Forward" awards for exemplifying America
's driving spirit by making an impact in their careers and communities and motivating others to do the same.

Congratulations Christiane! 


 



November 5, 2005
Success Story: Julie Richmond: Litigator Turned Cartographic Connoisseur
By day, Julie Richmond is an associate at Berman DeValerio Pease Tabacco Burt & Pucillo, a 30-lawyer class action securities litigation boutique. However, at nights and on weekends (and any other spare time she can find), Richmond, with husband Steve and brother-in-law Brian, is the force behind WardMaps - an online seller of archival prints of vintage American city neighborhood maps.

Richmond became interested in "cartography" after finding an old Boston real estate atlas at an antique shop that had very elaborate and beautifully engraved maps showing the details of all the homes and owners within an area of only a few blocks. Richmond and her husband decided to begin collecting more maps, digitizing them, and selling them online. Digital versions of the maps now appear on coasters, greeting cards and mousepads. The company's collection now numbers over 4,000 maps.

Richmond's advice to aspiring lawyer entrepreneurs: "Lawyers are naturally risk-averse. My advice to someone interested in moving in a new direction is to start small. Don’t take an all-or-nothing approach – 'either I’m a lawyer or I’m something else.' Your legal skills will likely help you no matter what you want to do. If everything comes together, your new interests outside of work will probably help you to find your practice more enjoyable, and they could very literally open new professional doors for you."

Read Richmond's full story below.

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



October 20, 2005
Success Story: Calvita J. Frederick-Sowell: From Law to Tea Maven
Since 1978, Calvita J. Frederick-Sowell has been making her "secret recipe" iced tea for family and friends. On many occasions she was told "you should market this tea". This advice typically went in one ear and out the other, and Frederick-Sowell ended up practicing law for some 20 years.

In 1997, spurred by disenchantment with the practice of law and a desire to spend more time with her daughter, Frederick-Sowell took the plunge and launched Magnolia Spice Tea, Inc.. Fortuitous meetings with manufacturers willing to mentor her and meet her production specifications helped Frederick-Sowell formulate the tea bags used to brew her special blend. Magnolia has since achieved distribution in over 1,200 retail outlets, including chains such as Safeway, Kroger's, Albertson's and most recently, Walmart.

Frederick-Sowell's advice to others seeking career fulfilment? "People should search their souls to discover their true calling, even if it is somehing they consider a hobby that they never looked to as a source of income. It might prove a challenge, but it is far more satisfying to follow your heart." Perfectly said.

Read Frederick-Sowell's full story.

 



October 12, 2005
Success Story: Margaret Denton: The In-House Counsel Career Path
After working at a small law firm during law school, Margaret Denton decided that she did not like the atmosphere of a partnership or the type of work she'd be expected to handle as an entry-level associate. So soon after finishing law school, she went to business school and earned an MBA.

Following an eighteen month stint at PriceWaterhouse after completing her MBA, Denton decided to pursue an in-house legal career where she could leverage her combined legal and business experience. She landed a position as a staff litigator with Subway, the restaurant franchiser. Networking ultimately led to further in-house positions at Response Insurance (an Internet-only insurer) and Regus Group (an operator of business centers).

Denton is now President and COO of DM Partners, a fast-growing provider of direct marketing database services. Denton says that the one of the most satisfying parts of her job is taking her legal experience and applying it to the business side of operations. This includes a standardized "Top 10 List" that Denton implemented for evaluating all of the company's employees on a host of metrics such as time management, attitude, etc. Denton says that the system is designed to reduce the incidence of wrongful discharge and discrimination charges since it puts all employees on the same page. Just one example of how bringing a legal perspective to a vexing business issue can bear fruit.

For those attorneys aspiring to an in-house career, Denton advises learning about the industries in which you are interested, and a whole lot of networking at conferences, seminars and other events.

Read Denton's full profile below.

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



September 21, 2005
Success Story: Jim Durham: Seizing Opportunities
Jim Durham's career path has covered quite a few bases - law firm partner, sports marketing executive, and business development consultant to law firms. Durham's story shows that regular networking with colleagues, and a willingness to seize opportunities, can help an attorney achieve a satisfying career.

After starting out at a 160-lawyer Boston firm, Durham eventually made partner, but left soon after to serve as vice president of marketing for an organization representing professional golfers.

Following that position, Durham entered the nascent field of law firm marketing first in-house and then as a consultant. He quickly developed a reputation as an expert in the field. Among other accomplishments, Durham launched The Law Firm Marketing Director Institute - a two-day conference to teach law firm marketers about databases, client reviews, collateral materials and other marketing tools. The conference eventually grew to over 100 attendees on two coasts.

Durham dabbled again in sports marketing with a stint at MLB Media, the Internet arm of Major League Baseball. Most recently, he accepted the post of Chief Marketing Officer for Ropes & Gray, a major Boston-based firm.

Durham's advice to other attorneys: "I feel very strongly that each of us has within us a voice that says, "Wouldn’t it be great if . . . . . ?” To ignore that voice means compromising your personal fulfillment. Listen to the voice."

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



September 15, 2005
Success Story: Lawyer Turned Furniture Manufacturer
Michael Heltzer started out his professional life as a lawyer at a white-shoe New York firm, Milbank Tweed. But Heltzer, whose wardrobe favors T-shirts, worn jeans, and dust-coated clogs, was not at home on Wall Street. Eventually, he left New York behind, moved back to his native Chicago, and started taking classes at the Art Institute, while continuing to practice law. He was soon using machine tools to "weld, form and bend."

Heltzer now presides over a rapidly growing furniture manufacturing business with 150 products ranging from teak-covered coat hooks to wall units to sofas to stainless steel tables and pedestals.

It's a fascinating story, especially given that Heltzer and his family have called the company's factory "home" since the company's founding.

Read more


 



September 6, 2005
Success Story: Warren Brown: Litigator Turned Baker

Warren Brown started off his legal career in 1999 as a litigator with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ("HHS") in Washington, D.C., prosecuting civil cases in health care fraud for the government. Brown found the work interesting, but it didn’t engage him emotionally. In less than a year, he was focusing his personal time - up to 3 to 5 hours a night - on a new passion - baking cakes.

After initial cake sales convinced Brown that he could make a business out of his passion, he took a leave of absence from HHS and maxed out his credit card to buy the basic equipment (including an oven and a double-door refrigerator). At the same time, he started work on the business plan that eventually netted him a $125,000 SBA loan from City First Bank.

After almost a year and a half of preparation and really hard work, Brown opened his bakery, CakeLove, in the U Street corridor in Washington, D.C. A second location is due to open in Silver Spring, MD, later this year, and the company has recently launched a new website featuring online sales of the company's cakes and other pastries. Brown has also become something of a media personality with appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show and a contract to host Sugar Rush, a 13-episode series on the Food Network in which Brown will visit restaurants, pastry shops and bakeries around the country to talk with pastry chefs and chocolatiers, then return to his kitchen to cook a recipe he's learned from them.

Click below for Brown's full story.

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



August 17, 2005
Success Story: Karina Ayala-Bermejo: A Career Dedicated to Helping Others

Karina Ayala-Bermejo came to this country with her parents when she was four years old. Her first job after receiving her Bachelor’s degree was as a program director with Family Rescue, a Chicago agency dedicated to alleviating family violence. The experience working with women and children who were the victims of domestic violence inspired Ayala-Bermejo to pursue a law degree so she could devote her career to helping others.

Today, Ayala-Bermejo is Director of Community Services for the Chicago Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of the Chicago Bar Association. The position includes oversight of all of the Bar Association’s pro bono and community service activities. In that capacity, one of Ayala-Bermejo's major focuses has been the Lend-a-Hand Program, a joint program of the Bar Association and the Bar Foundation that supports mentoring programs for young people in disadvantaged Chicago area communities. Other initiatives in which Ayala-Bermejo is involved include the Chancery Court Access to Justice Program, the Senior Awareness of Financial Exploitation campaign, the Statutory Summary Suspension Hearing Pro Bono Program, and the Matrimonial Fee Arbitration Program.

Ayala-Bermejo concludes: "Taking the time and making the commitment to step up to help someone is probably the most immensely satisfying thing any attorney can do. And you can do it no matter what your practice focus or where you work."

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



August 1, 2005
Success Story: Margaret Minister O'Keefe: Overseeing Licensing at Angela Adams Designs
Margaret Minister O'Keefe, formerly a partner in the intellectual property litigation practice with Pierce Atwood LLP, will join Angela Adams Designs, LLC as the company’s General Counsel and Vice President of Licensing, reporting to the company’s co-founders, Angela Adams and Sherwood Hamill.

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



July 6, 2005
Success Story: Matthew Homann: Bringing Innovation to the Practice of Law
Matthew Homann is your typical small town attorney with a general practice - he represents individuals planning their estates, taking care of their disabled children, buying and selling their homes, starting a business, and dealing with everyday legal challenges. He also devotes about 20% of his time to mediation.

What differentiates Homann from other general practitioners is his passion for innovation in the practice of law. Among other things, Homann has experimented in his own practice with various alternative billing options, a money-back service satisfaction guarantee, and a "client concierge" to coordinate client contact and satisfaction efforts. Based on his experiences, Homann resolved to share what he was doing with other attorneys, and thereby encourage them to move away from the billable hour and towards a saner, more client-centric way of practicing law. That vision led to the launch of the [non]billable hour - a popular blog focused on inventive and original ways to bring meaningful and satisfying change to the practice of law.

Homann's latest innovation is LexThink - a select network of innovative, big-thinking people from the worlds of law, business, technology, marketing, and consulting who will share ideas for designing the perfect professional service firm.

Read Homann's full profile below.

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



May 25, 2005
Success Story: William Brotherton: Mixing Law, Railroading, Acting, and More
Compared to other attorneys, William Brotherton has a more colorful past than most. Hired on the Burlington Northern Railroad in 1979 as a brakeman, he worked freight trains throughout North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wyoming and South Dakota.

In 1981, he was promoted to trainmaster with the Colorado & Southern Railroad, a Burlington Northern subsidiary, and transferred to Denver. As a trainmaster, he dealt with labor strikes, merger issues and employee discipline. He left the railroad in 1982, and ultimately obtained his law degree, in part because his experiences in conducting "investigations", railroad quasi-judicial proceedings, got him interested in pursuing a legal career.

Now practicing business, insurance, real estate and litigation in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Brotherton still wears many hats - motivational speaker, writer, public official - even an actor playing a disgruntled railroad worker in the movie "Heaven's Fall" (Strata Productions), set in 1933 Alabama, and featuring, among others, Timothy Hutton.

Brotherton has also published a book reliving his railroading days called Burlington Northern Adventures.

Brotherton's philosophy on life that has allowed him to pursue so many interests simultaneously is best summed up in the title of one of his motivational programs: Don’t Listen to the Naysayers – Follow Your Dreams.

Click below for the full profile.

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



May 12, 2005
Success Story: Jeff Brooke: Partner Spends Five Year Sabbatical Sailing Around the World
Over 20 years ago, Jeffrey Brooke co-founded the law firm of Bowman & Brooke, now one of the largest product liability defense firms in the country, with more than 160 attorneys in six offices.

In 1999, Brooke recalls, his wife Ann declared that they should devote some time to simply enjoying each other. The Brookes had vacationed on rented boats before, and Brooke was convinced they could handle a longer sailing trip. At the time, Brooke was 55, and had been in practice over 30 years. He now says that if it hadn’t been for his wife he probably would have stayed on the job, "working on my first heart attack." Instead, Brooke planned for a "sailing sabbatical" with his wife with the same level of detail that he used to plan for a trial.

The Brookes sold their house, bought a 51-foot yacht, High Drama, and spent months checking it out and preparing. When they sailed from San Diego in November of 1999, they had no idea how long they would be gone – six months, a year, or more. It turned out to be five years, interspersed with four trips back to Phoenix. They traveled 30,000 miles and visited 39 countries. The entire trip is chronicled at a special website: Sailing High Drama.

Based on his experience, Brooke has this to say about sabbaticals: "I’ve become convinced that something longer than a vacation is necessary to allow lawyers to recharge their batteries. The perspective you gain, and the physical benefits you receive from time off, even time off between job changes, make the effort to take the time worthwhile. Lawyers sometimes feel that life can’t go on without them, and if you have that viewpoint it’s time to step back while you’re practicing and realize that the truth is quite different. Don’t wait until you think you’ll have enough time and money and health to do it, because it’s naïve to think the stars will ever perfectly align that way."

Click the link below to read more about Brooke's fascinating sabbatical journey - how Brooke's partners and clients reacted, the financial and management arrangements worked out, and much more.

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



April 27, 2005
Success Story: Flory Herman: Turning a Personal Experience with Adoption Into a New Legal Practice and Documentary Film
Before enrolling in law school, Flory Herman had earned a doctorate degree in pharmacy and had pursued a career as a clinical pharmacist. After graduating law school, her pharmacy background led to a solid and very satisfying practice in medical malpractice defense.

Then in 1992, Herman and her husband adopted their daughter Rachel. After having to use New York counsel to handle the adoption proceedings (since there were no adoption attorneys in Buffalo where they lived), Herman decided to open a practice in adoption law.

Herman is unique in that her practice is limited to adoption law, and that focus has allowed her to quickly rise to the top of her field, including membership in the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and a national client base.

However, Herman's passion to assist adopted children and their families has since evolved beyond her practice to producing and directing a film in which children and adults who were adopted share their thoughts and feelings about the experience and its impact on their lives.

To finance the film, Herman and her husband took a second mortgage on their house. Herman then networked to find appropriate talent in Buffalo to help with filming and production, and to write a score. Since its release, Herman's film - I Have Roots and Branches… Personal Reflections on Adoption - has won several awards and achieved national prominence. The video is available for sale through various distribution channels, as well as Herman's website.

Herman's advice for her fellow attorneys: "I know that the law isn’t always emotionally rewarding for some attorneys, and I would urge them to assess and apply the incredible expertise that we all have from our training. Seize the opportunity, but do it using your practice skills to identify an opportunity, research the necessary resources, and network with colleagues and contacts who can help make it happen."

Click below for Herman's full profile.

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



April 26, 2005
Success Story: Brod Bagert: From Law to Children's Poetry
According to his website, former lawyer Brod Bagert has written poetry his whole life. He started in third grade with a poem for his mother. He wrote a few poems in high school then picked up the pace in college because, as Bagert explains on his site, "GIRLS LOVE POETRY!"

During his lawyer days, Brod wrote fewer and fewer poems. Then one of his children asked him to write a poem for her to perform in her school elocution program, and that was the beginning of a flood of poetry. In 1992, Brod closed his twenty-one year law practice and became a fulltime poet.

Today, Bagert has published 13 books and spends 30 weeks a year traveling the world and sharing poetry with children and adults. His website - Brod Bagert Dot Com - offers excerpts from some of his works. Filled with engaging, cartoonish characters, the books teach important lessons or facts using rhyme and lyrics that appeal to young readers.

 



April 13, 2005
Success Story: Drew Oliver: From Law to Stuffed Microbes
Despite following his father into the law, Drew Oliver had always harbored an entrepreneurial streak. During his second year of law school, Oliver hit upon the idea of manufacturing plush dolls that look like real germs and viruses, only a million times their actual size. He decided to research whether he could launch a company around the concept.

Putting his legal sleuthing skills to the test, Oliver used online resources like Google and offline organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to research sourcing products in Asia, warehousing and distribution, and regulations governing the fireproofing and chemical content of stuffed dolls.

By the time he graduated from law school in 2002 and had started work as an associate at Kirkland & Ellis, Oliver had already placed his first order for 10,000 stuffed microbes from a factory in Asia. Fast forward to 2005, and the product line of Oliver's company has grown to include common microbes like the kind that cause the common cold and the flu to more exotic germs such as those responsible for black death and ebola. Distribution has likewise expanded to hundreds of retailers, including drug stores, hospital gift shops, science museums and educational catalogs. The company also sells directly through its website at http://www.giantmicrobes.com.

As to why he switched from law to business, Oliver says "Being a service provider is not really what I enjoy personally – my real interest is in making tangible products. And I just like being my own boss. If you are interested in creating a business of your own, your skills as a lawyer are an excellent tool, since research is key – and most of the lawyers I know are terrific at research! If you work on your idea as hard as you do at being a good lawyer, you will almost certainly succeed."

Read Oliver's full profile below.


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April 7, 2005
Success Story: Carolyn Elefant: How to Go Solo

My Shingle

Carolyn Elefant opened The Law Offices of Carolyn Elefant in a small storefront space in Washington, D.C. (on Pennsylvania Avenue a block from the White House) in 1993. It was a time when solo attorneys were often looked down upon as fly-by-night operators who couldn't cut it at a "real" firm. Even the local bar association offered only one course on how to start a firm, and it was of little relevance to most young attorneys just starting out.

Still, for Elefant, going solo was more personally satisfying as it meant having her name on the top line of briefs and on the nameplate of her office door. Also, after her two daughters were born in 1996 and 1999, remaining solo allowed her to maintain control over her schedule and avoid relegating the care of her daughters to someone else.

Times have changed. Solo attorneys are now often admired as "entrepreneurs," a change in perception that Elefant attributes to the dot-com boom of the 90's. Elefant recently tapped into the interest of many attorneys to go solo by launching MyShingle - a blog focused on the difficulties and rewards of starting a solo practice, including the "On-Line Guide to Creating a Law Firm," an archive of more than 300 articles and other resources on the topic of launching a firm.

Elefant's advice for attorneys contemplating going solo? " I think many attorneys are reluctant to leave their comfort zone, even if they’re unhappy in it. It’s important for them to realize that there is no such thing as failing. If you have the desire to start a solo practice in your field of interest, you should do it – if you don’t, someone else in the same field will, and you’ll definitely be better off for having tried. If you can identify what you’re most passionate about in the law, the chances are that passion can be the basis for a solo practice; and your level of passion is the best gauge for the degree of success you’ll have.

Click full story below for Elefant's full profile

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March 16, 2005
Success Story: Joel Ruben - Litigator Brings Joy to Others Through Music

Joel Ruben has always had a passion for children's music. After graduating from college, Joel's affinity for musical storytelling led him and his friend David Avadon to create the Children’s Concert Series at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, which eventually became the country’s longest running folk concert series aimed at children.

After starting law school, Joel continued to perform concerts for children at local hospitals. However, upon graduating, Joel's focus shifted to building his legal career. Still, he knew at some point he would resume his musical performances.

Over a 24 year period, Joel built up a diverse practice combining litigation with real estate transactional work. Then Joel and David held a 30th anniversary Children’s Concert at McCabe's, and Joel reconnected with how much he enjoyed reaching out to children through music.

Joel now regularly performs for children at hospitals. His shows combine folk music, musical storytelling, drawing animals, and tricks to get the kids singing and laughing, and instilling within them the optimism to overcome whatever obstacles may confront them. He has also started performing for senior citizens in nursing and retirement homes emphasizing songs from Broadway musicals and other well known American tunes.

Last but not least, Joel has become involved in promoting the annual "What a Pair" concert to benefit the Revlon/UCLA Breast Center. To be held this year on April 8th at UCLA's Royce Hall, the concert features duets from Broadway musicals performed by women who have had starring roles on stage, in movies and television, or as recording artists. Tickets for the concert can be purchased through Ticketmaster.

Joel's advice to other attorneys? "If you follow your interests and see where they lead, you might be surprised at how much more you can do outside the practice of law and how much more you will enjoy being a lawyer."

Click below to read Joel's full profile.


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March 2, 2005
Success Story: Benjamin Kern: Juggling Technology Startup and Law Firm Partnership
Benjamin Kern has carved a unique niche for himself in the worlds of law and business: partner at the techonology law firm of Gordon & Glickson in Chicago, and founder of his own technology startup - Canary Wireless - that manufactures and sells a device that allows users to detect and analyze wireless Internet connections (a/k/a "hotspots").

After graduating from Cornell with a J.D. and an M.B.A., Ben cut his teeth doing M&A and securities work at a large Chicago firm. He particularly enjoyed the technology deals that he handled in the late 1990's, and eventually switched over to Gordon & Glickson in 1999 because of its exclusive focus on technology work.

Ben's inspiration for Canary Wireless came one day in an airport as he struggled to locate a "hotspot" to which he could connect through his laptop.

Though Ben had long handled technology deals for clients, he found the task of launching his own company quite complex, including hiring engineers, sourcing production facilities, establishing distribution channels, and raising capital. More amazingly, Ben did all of the above and more while still continuing to practice law at Gordon & Glickson where he was made a partner in 2004.

Ben points out that his situation is unique in that his technology company actually serves as an advertisement for his law firm by proving the firm's commitment to technology, which is what allowed him to remain at the firm even as he founded his business. Ben advises other attorneys interested in entrepreneurship to use their legal work as a springboard to immerse themselves in the areas of business that interest them. In Ben's case, counseling wireless companies and startups was the foundation for Canary Wireless.

Read Ben's full story below.

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



February 23, 2005
Success Story: Sarah Davis - Attorney Turned eBay Gold Power Seller
Sarah Davis made her first sale on eBay soon after starting law school in 1999 - some old clothing items that netted her $120. Given that her husband was still in medical school and they already had one child, the possibility of supplementing the family's income through eBay was enticing, and Sarah gradually increased her sales activity.

After her husband started a residency in San Antonio, Sarah looked for an opportunity in law that would allow her to practice part-time and spend substantial time with her (now) 3 children. Most firms, however, only seemed to offer that kind of "flex-time" position to attorneys who were already established at the firm, not to new attorneys from out of state. Unable to enter legal practice on the terms that she wanted, Sarah shifted her focus to eBay.

Sarah found she could expand her eBay sales activity with very little capital outlay by purchasing high fashion consumer items on consignment. Now focused almost exclusively on Louis Vuitton handbags, Sarah's eBay sales average more than $10,000 a month, which makes her a "Gold Power Seller."

Sarah has also branched off into eBay education. Through her website - Auction Princess - she offers seminars that teach attendees the secrets of buying and selling successfully on eBay.

Click below to read Sarah's full story.

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



February 8, 2005
Success Story: Deborah Schneider: Helping Other Attorneys Find Career Satisfaction

By her third day in law school, Deborah Schneider was already thinking "“What have I gotten myself into?" While she ultimately graduated law school, Deborah quickly gravitated to a position at the Internet startup textbook seller VarsityBooks.com and then a job at a legal technology provider.

Deborah saw a common thread connecting those two companies - each was founded by lawyers who didn't want to practice law. Having worked with dissatisfied lawyers, Deborah -- with the help of a career counselor -- soon found her own calling: helping lawyers, law students and prospective law students determine their optimum career path.

After completing an intensive career development training course offered by Richard Bolles, author of the best-selling job-search book What Color Is Your Parachute, Deborah eventually ended up in a permanent position as Associate Director of Career Development at the University of California Hastings College of the Law.

Most recently, Deborah has published a book Should You Really Be A Lawyer? (now for sale on JD Bliss and at Deborah's website). While a key goal of the book is to help law students decide if a legal career is right for them, Deborah observes that the book also holds great value for lawyers concerned about their own career options:

"Dissatisfied lawyers are often reluctant to make a change because they feel they’ve invested too much time and money in their legal careers to leave practice, or because they fear losing their professional identity if they change course. Often this resistance simply involves a lack of information on available alternatives, so some lawyers stay stuck because they don’t know what else they would enjoy or how to figure it out. Our book aims to help these lawyers look at their own career decision-making process, get beyond those mental traps that typically trigger career confusion in lawyers, and choose jobs they’ll enjoy."

Click below for Deborah's full Success Story.

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



January 31, 2005
Success Story: Christiane Cargill: Litigator Makes Time for Interest in Music and Community Service
Since 1999, Christiane Cargill has practiced civil litigation with Wright Robinson Osthimer & Tatum, a 50-attorney defense litigation firm with offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Richmond, VA and Washington D.C. The range of Christiane's cases include employment, construction, commercial and products liability litigation in which she handles everything from discovery to appeals to arbitrations.

Yet despite her busy work schedule, Christiane believes strongly in making time for life outside the law. For Christiane that means a second career as a musician and songwriter.

The juggling can clearly get daunting at times. Christiane recalls how she recorded her first album with a group called ELYN while studying for the bar exam. Since that milestone, she has performed her original songs throughout the U.S. and Europe both as a solo artist and as a member of her current group, Riddle the Sphinx. A new album, Vagabond, is expected out soon.

To top it off, Christiane devotes substantial time to HeARTS Giving Hope, a foundation that she started with her sister Karene in 2002 that seeks to improve the lives of abused and underprivileged children by giving them positive outlets for self-expression through music and the visual arts.

Christiane says the balance of work and play, of fun and accomplishment, is exciting, and she fully intends to continue growing and achieving in all three of the areas in which she partakes - law, music and community service. She advises other attorneys: "It’s easy to get comfortable and make excuses in life, and to say that you know what would really make you happy but you can’t find the time to do it. If you really love it and are passionate about it, you can find the energy and time."

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



January 26, 2005
Success Story: Ernest Svenson a/k/a Ernie the Attorney Shares How Blogging Builds Networks and Personal Satisfaction

Ernest Svenson has practiced as a commercial litigator for nearly 20 years at Gordon Arata, a 50+ attorney law firm based in New Orleans. However, in the past few years he has catapulted to fame on the Internet as "Ernie the Attorney" - one of the first lawyers to launch a blog. Ernest's blog now attracts over 1,000 visitors a day.

While he majored in philosophy in college, Ernest has always been interested in computers. By what Ernest characterizes as serendipity, the CEO of a software company introduced him to blogging as a vehicle for personal expression, and Ernest says: "I was blown away."

Ernest says blogging has helped him get in touch with a lot of like-minded colleagues and form meaningful online relationships with people he might not otherwise have “met” (sort of akin to a "virtual" specialized bar association meeting, he says). Ernest also says blogging has let existing clients more easily keep in touch with what he's doing, while also serving as a source for new clients and new business. Finally, Ernest's blog has served as a creative outlet to express his interest in photography and guitar.

Ernest has this advice for other lawyers concerning the benefits of blogging: "Too many lawyers are dissatisfied with putting in 2,500 billable lawyers a year and not seeing their families, but they keep at it because they don’t explore the alternatives. Using a blog to get in touch with other lawyers who share similar interests or frustrations can encourage you to break out of that rut, and thus can serve as a path to more personal satisfaction."

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



January 17, 2005
Success Story: Audrey Rubin Transitions from Litigation to Law Firm Management
Audrey Rubin started out practicing law as a litigator and eventually made partner at a Chicago-area firm. However, by the early 1990s she found that she no longer enjoyed the law firm environment - the billable hours, the pressures of business development, etc.

Audrey's desire for a career change -- and more time for family -- led her first to an in-house counsel position at Apollo Travel Services - a $500 million travel company with over 3,000 employees. Following Apollo's acquisition, Audrey moved to an in-house position at Grant Thornton, and then started her own consulting company.

Audrey currently works as the Chief Administrative Officer at Butler Rubin, a 30-attorney firm in Chicago (no relation to the name partner, Audrey notes). Her responsibilities cover all administrative functions, including finance, facilities, personnel, technology, as well as most issues of firm governance other than compensation.

Having found career satisfaction, Audrey advises other attorneys to "define what’s really important to you – family life, leadership, problem solving – and then define the best ways to emphasize those things in the context of your career."

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



January 11, 2005
Success Story: Lisa Solomon: Using a Home Office to Balance Legal Work and Family
After graduating from New York University School of Law in 1993, Lisa practiced civil litigation at a New York City firm for two years where she gained experience in all phases of litigation, including drafting pleadings, motions and appeals, and conducting discovery.

However, by 1996 she was married and ready to start a family. Because Lisa wanted to remain involved in the law, the challenge became how to control her time so that she had the flexibility to handle both legal work and family responsibilities. Technology came to the rescue in the form of online research, which afforded Lisa flexible work hours, and email, which facilitated sharing work product with clients.

Lisa now operates a legal practice out of her home. Her website - Question of Law - highlights her speciality - research and drafting of briefs and motions papers for other attorneys.

Lisa's advice to other attorneys working solo: "If you want to be successful, you really have to love what you do. If you’re excited about your work, you’ll be willing to work hard---not only on core legal tasks but also on administrative and business development activities---in order to achieve your professional goals."

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



January 4, 2005
Success Story: Chadbourne Litigator With Musical Talents Urges Attorneys: "Make Time For Your Personal Interests"
Lawrence Savell of Chadbourne & Parke is not your ordinary products liability litigator. He is also a recording artist whose humurous tunes parodying the practice of law have garnered laughs for years at firm functions and parties.

After handing out his recordings to hundreds of family members, friends, co-workers, and people he met on airplanes, Lawrence finally decided to sell his works commercially. His latest CD release - Legal Holidaze - features classics such as "Bill Those Hours" (parody of "Jingle Bells") and "Billin' On Christmas Eve".

Lawrence has also published over 250 articles, including a host of humorous pieces exploring the lighter side of the law (for young attorneys still slaving over citations in briefs, Lawrence's Bluebook Blues will surely strike a chord).

Lawrence - who clearly relishes the time he spends on his personal interests (even if it only affords him less than five hours of sleep a night on average) -- has this advice for attorneys who are feeling stressed out: "I think it is very important that lawyers and other people take the time to pursue their “after-hours dreams,” despite the increasing pressures, longer hours, and other factors that may make them think it is impossible. I think being able to enjoy or express ourselves or just blow off steam ends up making us happier, and thus better, at what we do that actually pays our bills."

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



January 3, 2005
Success Story: JD Bliss Subscriber Donations Top 400; Attorneys Play Active Role in Organizing Aid for Sri Lanka
We're pleased to announce that donations from JD Bliss subscribers to victims of the tsunami in Asia through Network for Good topped 400 in the final week of December. We want to thank all those readers who donated for their generosity.

One of our readers, Kim Wright (an attorney with a unique family law practice in North Carolina and founder of The Renaissance Lawyer Society) also made us aware of the work of a fellow attorney, Sharif Abdullah, who lives several months a year in Sri Lanka, has worked on peacemaking efforts there, and most recently has been organizing assistance for tsunami victims through an organization called Sarvodaya. Among other things, Sarvodaya maintains a blog with updates on relief efforts in Sri Lanka.

In an email to JD Bliss, Sharif explained that Sarvodaya is unique in that the organization employs thousands of volunteers who physically distribute material aid to communities all over Sri Lanka, including to poor villages that the government doesn't even know existed. See the link above to learn more.

 



December 20, 2004
Success Story: Sandra Velvel: Lawyer Turned Interior Design Retailer
Sandra Velvel entered law because a number of her family members were lawyers, and because she felt that law would be a good background for whatever she chose to do in life. However, after practicing for a short time with a firm in New York, she soon realized that the law didn't provide the opportunities for creative expression that she was looking for.

Sandra's theater and history background initially led her to public affairs programming and then independent documentary film making, including work on Watergate Plus 30: Shadow of History, which won a News and Documentary Emmy Award earlier this year for “Outstanding Long Form Informational Programming.”

However, only when renovating her apartment did she rediscover an old passion: interior design. With the encouragement of her husband, she spent several months writing a business plan and plugging numbers into a P&L spreadsheet. That effort paid off when, in 2004, Sandra finally opened Vivi (www.vivionline.com), her 1,500 square foot interior design shop in Washington, D.C.

Sandra's advice to lawyers seeking a new direction: "If you went to law school, you’re by definition a bright, accomplished, confident individual. That’s a solid foundation for following your heart and deciding to do what you really want to do, no matter how hard it is to do it, because by becoming a lawyer you’ve already shown that you have the energy and perseverance to succeed."

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



December 11, 2004
Success Story: David Kaufman: Litigator Turns Passion for Martial Arts Into a Niche Karate Legal Practice

Few attorneys have meshed their personal interests with their legal practice as thoroughly as litigator David Kaufman.
A martial artist with over 40 years experience in various fighting disciplines, including black belts in Mu Duk Kwon Tang Soo Do, Kendo and Iaido, David was at a tournament when word got out that he was a lawyer. Within a few hours several martial arts athletes, school owners and promoters approached him for guidance on issues such as contract law for the promotion of tournaments and athletes, insurance and liability concerns, and the negotiation and drafting of releases. David has since parlayed that initial flood of interest into the country's only martial arts-based legal practice - http://www.karatelaw.com - which focuses on contractual issues and litigation matters confronting martial arts schools, tournaments and athletes.

David credits his martial arts background with making him a more effective litigator by endowing him with self-discipline, mental focus and a way to release stress. He notes that martial arts combat and litigation share common strategies: intensity of training and preparation, a focus on your opponent’s tactics, and an ability to see through feints and diversions in order to win.

David's advice to other attorneys? A unity of interest between your professional and personal life can yield great personal satisfaction and success.

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



December 10, 2004
Success Story: Katherine Frink-Hamlett: From Bankruptcy Law to Legal Placement - With Creativity the Common Thread
After graduating from New York University with a Fine Arts degree in film and television, Katherine Frink-Hamlett obtained her JD and joined the bankruptcy department of a prestigious, New York City law firm. She found bankruptcy work intriguing, especially the issue of dealing with employees and hanging on to the best talent for the reorganized company.

Networking contacts helped Katherine land an in-house position at USA Networks where she focused on drafting contracts such as talent and licensing agreements. Further networking resulted in a business development position at Assigned Counsel - a startup focused on selling law firms on the value of using contract professionals.

Finally, in June 2004, Katherine launched Frink-Hamlett Legal Solutions, which, among other staffing services, offers solutions that enhance the ability of law firms and corporate legal departments to provide well-rounded legal services by diversifying the gender, race, religion and ethnic spectrum of their attorneys.

For attorneys dissatisfied with their practice, Katherine has this advice: "It’s not enough to say you’re unhappy in the law; you should ask if you’re unhappy because the work isn’t challenging, or the hours are too long, or some other clear, definite reasons. Once you decide why you’re unhappy, decide what you’d really like to do, and begin searching for an environment that meets your criteria."

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



December 3, 2004
Success Story: Rick Klau: Leading Lawyer Blogger, Tech Guru and Political Insider
When it comes to law and technology, Rick Klau is always there first. For law school, Rick attended the University of Richmond School of Law in Richmond, Virginia because during his initial year there it became the first law school that required students to have their own laptops. As a law student, he founded and edited the Richmond Journal of Law and Technology, which in 1995 became the first student-edited law review in the world to publish exclusively online.

Rick quickly realized that while he loved the discipline and thought process of the law, he wouldn’t have the patience for the procedures and outlook of most firms. So his his first job out of law school was with the East Coast office of Inherent.com, a small West Coast technology firm focusing on web site and intranet design.

Rick's passion for technology and law brought him into a number of business development positions marketing software solutions to law firms at such companies as Interwoven and Interface Software.

Nowadays Rick is known for his popular blog, which covers an electic mix of topics including technology, politics, music and parenting. He considers himself fortunate that he has been able to parlay his interest in blogging into a business development position at Socialtext, which offers collaboration and knowledge management tools.

Rick is also heavily involved in politics - he recently played a highly active role in the winning Senate campaign of Barack Obama (see photo above at right). Rick still marvels at the Internet’s ability to "turn all of us into not just consumers but contributors, which takes us back to the original concept of the Founding Fathers, enabling ordinary citizens to play every bit as important a role as the “professionals” in politics and government."

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



November 26, 2004
Success Story: Mel McKinney: Retired Litigator Turns Love of Storytelling Into Three Novels
Mel McKinney spent more than 25 years defending hospitals and physicians in malpractice litigation. He enjoyed trial work, which he saw as a process of advocacy through storytelling. As Mel explains: "In the opening statement you set forth the entire outline of your story, in a way that grabs the interest of the audience – the jury. The closing argument is your chance to say, 'See, the story I told you was true. Let me remind you why'."

For years Mel's professional interest in storytelling had led him to flirt with fiction writing, and he had boxes and desk drawers full of short stories to show for it. But once he left active practice, he started writing on a full time basis (while also helping manage the historic Little River Inn just south of Mendocino, in his wife's family since 1863).

Mel's first novel - Where There's Smoke - speculates about the fate of the Cuban cigars that President Kennedy was known to have acquired the night before he tightened the Cuban Embargo, and what role those cigars may have played in the assassination. Two more novels followed, which are awaiting publication.

Mel's advice for someone who is a lawyer and thinks that writing would be a source of fulfillment: "Get started and write. Set aside a couple of hours before you go to the office in the morning or after you come home in the evening, whenever your creativity and energy are higher." But he also warns that full time writing is hard work that requires a minimum of several hours a day, and the help of a good editor who will be "brutal" with the text.

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



November 17, 2004
Success Story: Dennis Kennedy: "TechnoLawyer of the Year" Bridges the Gap Between Law and Technology
Dennis Kennedy took a career test in high school that said his personality and skills were best suited for being a judge. Following this recommendation, he spent several years clerking for judges after graduating law school.

However, as the Internet age dawned, Kennedy discovered his real love - technology. In 1995, as a partner at his firm, Kennedy established his own web site on estate planning law, making him one of first lawyers to have a presence on the Web. In 1997, he wrote his first article on a computer technology topic – the first of what are now more than 300 written print and Web pieces on law and technology that have appeared locally, nationally and internationally.

Kennedy now operates his own consulting and law practice combining legal advice with law technology consulting. His website offers a wide selection of articles, products and upcoming events relating to law and technology, while his blog is widely read for its insights on legal technology trends.

Kennedy credits Pat Bush - a career coach and counselor - with having helped him decide what he really wanted to do and develop a strategy for doing it. Kennedy acknowledges that it is a very difficult step for any lawyer to leave a firm, but still advises that if you’re so unhappy at what you’re doing that, for example, it negatively affects your health, it’s time to leave and seek help from a coach or counselor in charting a new career path.

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



November 16, 2004
Success Story: Lisa Scottoline: From Law to Legal Thrillers
A master of the legal thriller, Lisa Scottoline recently saw her eleventh book, Killer Smile, rise to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. It's thus hard to believe that only a few years ago, Lisa was struggling to make ends meet as she completed her first book, Everywhere That Mary Went.

Read Lisa's story of how she went from being a litigator at the Philadelphia law firm of Dechert, Price & Rhoads, to clerking for a federal appellate judge, to best selling author.

Purchase Killer Smile or read reviews.

 



November 10, 2004
Success Story: Stephan Pastis: Attorney Turned Cartoonist Leaves Law to Draw
Stephan Pastis started drawing cartoons as a kid -- and loved it. However, he decided to attend law school after considering that "the odds were really against making a living as a cartoonist."

Starting out as a litigator, Pastis quickly became disenchanted with practicing law - he didn't like the adversarial nature of it, nor "the anxiety and tension it produced." As a release, he resumed cartooning in his spare time.

In 1997, Pastis developed the concept that today is the popular strip Pearls Before Swine, starring the character of Pig, who is gentle and guileless, and Rat, who is arrogant and self-centered. The strip was rejected multiple times until it was accepted by United Features Syndicate. By January 2002, it was running in newspapers and Pastis left law for good.

Pastis' advice for unhappy or burned out attorneys seeking alternative careers? "Attorneys may be reluctant to leave practice because they’re afraid they’ll initially make less money . . . But there’s no comparison between that kind of sacrifice and the joy you can get from doing what you really love to do . . . It takes hard work and some luck, but I think pursuing what you really love to do is always the best option."

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



November 5, 2004
Success Story: Richard Levick: From Law to Worldwide Leader in Crisis Communications
In the years immediately after law school, Levick developed an interest in communications. He saw it as a critical ingredient for success in all of his areas of interest -- law, business and politics. In Levick's view, "perception trumps reality. How we communicate is as important as what we communicate."

In 1997, Levick founded Levick Strategic Communications in a tiny office for two people. A mere seven years later, his firm is now a worldwide leader in legal media relations with a focus on high-stakes, high-profile "crisis" communications for corporate clients, individuals, even whole countries. Matters his firm has handled include Napster, Enron, the Catholic Church scandals, the Guantanamo detentions, the Florida election recount, and the like.

Levick believes his credentials as an attorney give him an edge by inspiring greater confidence in his clients, especially law firms who see him as a member of the fraternity.

Any advice for attorneys contemplating a career change? Levick points to a Harvard study that found that those who pursued career satisfaction achieved financial success to a far greater extent than those who just pursued financial success. Levick's conclusion: "I believe that a prerequisite for career satisfaction is to find out what you love to do -- then forge a path toward doing it."

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



November 3, 2004
Success Story: Ross Fishman: From Litigator to Law Firm Branding Guru
Ross Fishman, now one of the legal industry's leading branding experts, started off practicing law as a litigator. After five years, he came to the realization that "the skills necessary to be a great lawyer weren't the ones that I truly enjoyed using," and that "my skills and interests were better suited to a more creative field like marketing."

Nevertheless, changing careers from law to marketing didn't come easy. Fishman's break came when, on a whim, he cold-called the newly hired marketing partner at 500-attorney Winston & Strawn in Chicago. The fact that he took the initiative to call -- instead of just sending in a resume -- got Fishman the job.

Since that first position, Fishman has developed a reputation as one of the legal industry's most highly regarded branding experts. Now the principal of his own firm, Ross Fishman Marketing, Fishman has been responsible for such innovative branding ideas as "Buglaw" for an Alabama firm specializing in pest control, and an award-winning advertising campaign for a matrimonial law firm in Vancouver, Canada featuring the tagline "We can't protect your heart. But we can protect your rights."

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



October 28, 2004
Success Story: Anne Gallagher: From Media Law to Legal Marketing – and Acting with Nicolas Cage
Anne Gallagher was a double major, earning journalism and law degrees from the University of Wisconsin. While obtaining a JD, Anne's law school internships focused on media law, but she felt ambivalent about legal practice - "Media law is a litigation specialty, and I’m a collaborator not a litigator," is how she puts it.

Through diligent networking, she landed a series of positions at PR and media training firms, and eventually met her partner, Merry Neitlich, with whom she found Extreme Marketing in 1996. As Anne explains, starting her own firm was simply an evolution that involved "keeping my eyes and my mindset open to new opportunities."

Most fascinating, encouraged by her clients, Anne also started doing voiceovers and then appearing in commercials. After six years, that interest has evolved into a role in The Weatherman, a Paramount/Gore Verbinski motion picture due out at the end of the year. Look for Anne in a group therapy scene (paired with an Asian “husband”) with both Nicolas Cage and co-star Hope Davis.

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



October 19, 2004
Success Story: Gina Furia Rubel: From Law to Public Relations and Marketing Communications
Gina Furia Rubel comes from four generations of attorneys; her grandfather was the first Italian- American U.S. Magistrate in the country’s history. Her family's law firm, Furia & Turner, is located in Philadelphia.

Initially following in the family tradition, Ms. Rubel attended law school, clerked for the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, and then spent several years as a litigator with two Philadelphia firms. However, she eventually found her real love: a combination of public relations and the law. Now the owner of her own PR firm, Ms. Rubel has found that her legal background provides a major advantage when assisting law firms with marketing communications.

Ms. Rubel concludes: "I love what I do and haven’t looked back since I started my own business. I work hard at maintaining the highest level of professionalism, because when you love what you do it means by definition that you want to be good at it."

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



October 13, 2004
Success Story: Nina Kaufman: Using Stand-Up Comedy to Gain Perspective
Nina L. Kaufman is an attorney and co-founder of Paltrowitz & Kaufman LLP, which since 1996 has provided a full range of transactional and litigation services to individual entrepreneurs and closely-held businesses. In a recent article published in her email newsletter, she explains how learning to perform stand-up comedy sharpened her lawyering skills, and helped her put things in perspective.
[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



October 6, 2004
Success Story: Larry Bodine: From Law to Journalism to Marketing to Technology
Larry Bodine is a practical, results-oriented person, who according to the Myers-Briggs personality test is an ESTJ – an extrovert who likes to organize projects and get things done. “That’s the ideal personality type for a lawyer or an entrepreneur,” he says, and during a 30-plus year career he has combined many aspects of both. From a law school student who aspired to be an Assistant U.S. Attorney, to a general practitioner, to editor of the American Bar Association Journal, to Communications Director for the Sidley & Austin law firm, to “Legal Technology Consultant of the Year,” Bodine has epitomized another aspect of the ESTJ personality: as he puts it, “They are able to see present realities and turn them into future possibilities.”
[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



October 2, 2004
Success Story: Lawyers Turned President of the United States
Twenty five of our nation's Presidents were former attorneys - can you name them? (hint - the most recent one also played the saxophone on TV).

Bonus Question: Which President later served as a Supreme Court Justice after his term finished?

[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



September 29, 2004
Success Story: Adam Berner: A Focus on Mediation
Adam Berner was drawn to the practice of family law – “I wanted to interact with people, not documents,” is how he puts it – but he was well aware that marital and custody disputes are among the most contentious that any lawyer faces. “I have never felt comfortable representing just one side in a dispute,” he says. “Advocating from just one perspective simply doesn’t feel honest to me; I’m too aware of the other side.” With this two-sided perspective, Berner has undertaken extensive and intensive training to transform his practice of law and become one of the few lawyers in the greater New York City area whose first and primary profession is mediation and conflict resolution.
[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 



September 24, 2004
Success Story: Ethan Wohl: From Wall Street Attorney to Non-Profit Entrepreneur
“I’m an individualist, but truly believe that ‘no man’s an island.’ To accomplish anything worthwhile, it has to be about working with and working to help other people.” Ethan Wohl joined a top New York business law firm with that philosophy firmly in mind. During the past decade it has led him from Wall Street, to pivotal positions with a non-profit agency and with New York City government, to the founding and leadership of a company that helps disadvantaged men and women develop their ability to support themselves with a job.
[FULL STORY AND READER COMMENTS]
 
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