Got Advice for a Laid-Off Lawyer?
Today's WSJ Law Blog features laid-off lawyer Dan Zoloth Dorfman, who's part of a new WSJ blog project entitled Laid Off and Looking, which follows out-of-work professionals as they look for new jobs. Dorfman, who is 60 years old, came to the law as a second career in 1998, following his first career as a rabbi. Practicing as an associate at Ross, Bell & Dixon (which has since merged with Troutman Sanders), Dorfman was laid off in September 2006 and has been looking ever since, with temporary contract gigs to sustain him in the interim. In his post, Dorfman describes the job hunt to date:
For the last two and a half years, I have networked like
mad, called or emailed everyone I know (or so it seems), consumed
gallons of coffee with friends and friends of friends, remained active
in bar committees and legal organizations, and answered every ad for a
commercial litigator I have seen on job sites whose similar names have
blurred together. My legal headhunters told me, ‘The market is
tight’–and this was before what now seems like daily reports of layoffs
by Big Law and medium-sized firms.
With one son in college, the second about to graduate
high school and my daughter in her first year in high school, I now
accept what I have long resisted–that I may have to relocate one more
time and live apart from my family. Friends and family have also urged
me to look outside the law and I have begun that process. I still
believe that I have something special to offer law firms and their
clients, but it takes more effort these days to maintain that faith.
With Dorfman's credentials, he shouldn't have trouble finding work. But as I see it, he's looking in the wrong places. Answering ads is, bluntly, a waste of time, while bar committees simply put Dorfman in touch with more lawyers, many of whom may be looking for work themselves. But with Dorfman's unique combination of skills -- as a former rabbi and commercial litigator -- it seems that he might have an ideal niche in representing religious organizations in a variety of matters, from forming non-profits to litigating First Amendment issues.
It seems to me that Dorfman isn't able to think outside of the box because the people he's surrounded by -- current lawyers and headhunters -- are all too deeply entrenched in the same box. Instead, Dorfman should follow the advice of Ken Adams, a former Biglaw attorney who's now an independent commentator and consultant on contract drafting. On his blog, Adams describes how he took charge and made the change at Adams Drafting. Likewise, blogger Victoria Pynchon shares her story of reinvention after being laid off from an Am Law 100 firm in a previous economic downturn. As with Pynchon and Adams, I am certain that there's a perfect job out there for Dan Dorfman. He just hasn't created it yet.
Posted by Carolyn Elefant on February 26, 2009 at 03:22 PM | Permalink
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