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The (Un)Happy Lawyer: A Roadmap to Finding Meaningful Work Outside of the Law Paperback – 1 Jul 2008


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9cfabe84) out of 5 stars 18 reviews
102 of 117 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d3cc1b0) out of 5 stars Just the Very Worst Sort of Tony Robbins Fare 18 Oct. 2009
By F.W. Sauerteig - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First, the author writes in a horrible, informal style that smacks of just the very worst sort of Tony Robbins fare. And the best part is that she, despite being a Harvard law alumnus with protected minority status, could NOT actually make the transition out of law, at least not the first time. She fessed up (at the end of the book) that she made an attempt before, and failed. She went back to law--albeit biglaw that pays $200,000 or more, something arguably much more benign than most can expect in this legal market--before starting a life coach enterprise counseling others on how to do precisely what she failed to do sometime before. The bulk of the book is comprised of "inspirational" stories that bear little scrutiny. One was a Harvard or Yale law alumnus who decided he wanted to be an actor, and now stars in Miami CSI, or whatever the name of that show kids are watching now (the last phrase delivered a la Rex Harrison or Stewie Griffn, please). That is about as absurd as the proposition that, because Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a game, therefore NBA players--let alone people who like to play basketball, but are not professional caliber-- can generally aspire to do so. Another "inspirational story" was a married woman who took a liking to baking after taking classes at the learning annex. and decided sometime thereafter to open her own bakery. How convenient that, if I recall correctly, her husband was a professional who made at least as much as she did during her heyday in biglaw, so that if the business stalls--or more likely fails--disaster is conveniently averted.
Juxtapose that fluff with the dearth of actual useful information that would assist someone in making a REALISTIC career change. There is NO useful information whatsoever on how to transition into law enforcement or teaching, for example, which as far as I can tell, are the two most popular, realistic career changes that JDs do make--ones that entail significant financial sacrifice, and have their own serious drawbacks too great to enumerate here. Nor is there any real information on how one might make a transition into journalism--not that that is entirely realistic in this day and age when newspapers large and small are going bankrupt.
So, I am left after this book and other token inquiries into what else what one can do with a juris doctor, completely at a loss at what realistic career opportunities are made available with a juris doctor. Sadly I fear the answer is not many, if any at all, outside of the law. This is all the more damning because the profession is dying. Thousands have been laid off. Even more hopeful law students--even those hailing from top 14 law schools--may be forced to make such a decision, if only it were possible.
I will say the book may have some value to blueblood or other biglaw sorts who secretly want to leave the law, but are not able to articulate that desire explicitly, or simply cower from the pressure from friends and family. The central thesis seems to be, it is ok if you do not want to be a lawyer. Well I for one already know that. I do not need the "I am okay you are okay" take on being "lawlorn." What I do need, and what this book utterly fails to deliver, is REALISTIC, PRAGMATIC information on how one can reasonably do so. Whether opening a bakery (even when one is married to a professional who rakes in six figures also) is a wise, prudent career change is arguable at best given the failure rate of such ventures. Propping up a successful actor who has beaten odds mirroring that of a lottery as either a realistic option or even inspiration is both laughable and absurd. For this reason, any small attributes of this trite little book are rightly eclipsed by ridicule and scorn, as signified by a one star rating.

F.W.
30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e13a7bc) out of 5 stars What a shame! 28 Jun. 2009
By John Doe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
It was hard for me to believe that I was reading the same book that others had praised.

I thought this book was poorly organized, and devoid of much insightful information. The book seemed to consist largely of regurgitated information from any number of other self-help books, along with "case studies" which were added at the end of each chapter.

However, in some instances these "case studies" seemed as long as, or longer than, the substantive sections of each chapter they were supposed to supplement. Also, it appeared to me that many of the "case studies" came from law students or lawyers who were young enough or wealthy enough (or both) to make the leap the author encourages all unhappy lawyers to make. In addition, the first supposedly genuine case study that came at the end of the first chapter was from one of the author's business colleagues. As a result, my faith in the author's integrity was lost after the first chapter.

The book would have been much more useful if the author gave much more attention to what I suppose are the thousands of unhappy lawyers, like me, who simply cannot afford to jump free of their "golden handcuffs."
26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9cd28614) out of 5 stars Shows the reader how THE AUTHOR went from being unhappy as a practicing attorney to starting and operating her own small biz! 6 Jan. 2009
By Marci Twain - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I liked this book. I found it to be well outlined and well written. And I liked how each chapter had a summary of its contents and a "case study." The case studies were sidebars on real people who shared their unhappiness and transition to a career that gave them happiness. The book is comprised of the following intro and 11 chapters:

0. Seven reasons to leave the practice of law - and what you'll find on the other side
1. For desperate lawyers who don't have a clue what they want to do
2. Ditch your friends who are lawyers
3. How can you explore possibilities, other than daydreaming about them?
4. What do you think?
5. Time to let your left brain out of the cage: Planning how to make your great escape
6. On being magically transformed
7. When the thought of letting go of the six-figure salary is too daunting and how to get around whatever else is getting in your way
8. Dipping your toe in the icy, shark-infested waters
9. Leaping off a cliff - onto a tall stack of fluffy pillows
10. What are you waiting for?
11. Epilogue

I enjoyed the first half of the book much more than the second half. I think I would have liked the book better if the intro regarding "seven reasons" had been replaced with a real introduction to the book and the seven reasons were expanded into a full blown chapter and been more fully developed. Chapters 1 through 5 were wonderful in my humble opinion.

Chapters 6 to the end were more about how to transition from a legal career to something else. For me they did not really fit into the title of the book. I think the book would have been better if those chapters were eliminated and replaced with the following titles:

6. Why you might think teaching would be a better career than the practice of law
7. Why you might think being an author or professional speaker would be a better career than the practice of law
8. Why you might think being a consultant would be a better career than the practice of law
9. Why you might think being an entrepreneur would be a better career than the practice of law
10. Why you might think being an executive at a nonprofit organization would be a better career than the practice of law
11. Why you might think being an executive/legislator in government would be a better career than the practice of law

The big problem lawyers have "getting out" of the legal profession is that it is difficult to get a "normal" job. You are either overqualified for most jobs or underqualified for them. And most employers won't hire you because they fear you know more than they do, OR that you'll leave quickly before giving the company value.

Our education system in the US is outdated. From the 1950s to present the American population has been taught to go to school to get a job. And this is so true in the legal field. Young people go to law school to get a job as an attorney. Attorneys would be so much better off if they stopped letting their education pidgeon-hole them into only certain job opportunities. Trained attorneys can do pretty much ANYTHING they want to do. They are readers, thinkers, speakers, writers, AND they are trained in the law. These are the skill sets that leaders have. Lawyers that don't want to practice law should recognize this.

I found in my own journey away from practicing law that when I realized that only certain jobs were available to me, then I stopped worrying about getting a job. Leaders, and I consider myself one, make their own jobs. They are teachers, authors, writers, speakers, entrepreneurs, CEOs, governors, and mayors. The author of the book being reviewed is an entrepreneur - she owns and operates her own career coaching firm. You can, too!

This book is clearly a marketing tool for the author's coaching firm. She's a consultant. She has a Web site, a blog, a book, and she sells coaching programs and workshops. This book could have been better, but it's not bad. But I think it's biggest value is how it shows the reader how THE AUTHOR went from being unhappy as a practicing attorney to starting and operating her own small business. 4 stars!

PS. I highly recommend you read "People are Idiots and I Can Prove It" (ISBN: 9781592404377). In my humble opinion it does a better job covering the material Ms. Parker tries to cover in her chapters 6-10.
HASH(0x9d94d0b4) out of 5 stars Monica's book really helped me to understand that I wasn't ... 7 April 2016
By M.B. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Monica's book really helped me to understand that I wasn't alone in my feelings about the practice of law. She has a real talent for identifying the emotional and practical obstacles to making a career change and how to develop a plan and work your way through them.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e06e4b0) out of 5 stars Very helpful book 17 Nov. 2008
By Junior Partner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If you're considering changing careers but think you can figure it out on your own, read this book anyway. You may figure it out on your own, but The Unhappy Lawyer will help you figure it out faster than you would alone. I wish this book had been out when I was a 4th year associate!

Ms. Parker clearly knows how most unhappy lawyers feel. I would read a suggestion in the book and think "but X may happen." In the next paragraph Ms. Parker would write, "You may be thinking that X may happen." Kind of spooky.

Although this book is great for lawyers, I think it would be helpful to people who are unhappy in other careers as well.

Overall, great information at a great price.
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