Is your career based on considered choices you planned or has it unfolded as part of a process you didn’t necessarily foresee?
Can I say both? After practicing in a firm in Honolulu, in the public interest in Chicago, and teaching at a Top 15 law school…where I also directed the school’s career services office for two years–literally as a favor until they found the right person for the long-term–I realized that lawyers as well as law students need career counseling and professional development guidance. From there, I launched Under Advisement, Ltd. in 1988 and have been working from a strategic point of view ever since….culminating in chairing the Board of the newly created ABA Legal Career Central.
What do you enjoy most (and, if you’re willing, what are the least enjoyable or hardest parts) about your current role?
I am totally gratified to be able to help individual lawyers and law students and, at the same time, make a broader impact on the profession through my more public work…such as by creating and moderating programs in person and on the web. The hardest part is being in the presence of a deserving person who just hasn’t gotten their legal career on track and feels depressed, despondent, and ready to give up. I provide real hope and concrete guidance, but it’s not easy work, year upon year.
What skills and personality traits lend themselves to success in your field?
Being a good listener as well as an articulate speaker; having a knack for providing creative, individualized advice; having the entrepreneurial ability to innovate, even when it takes courage; possessing a broad and deep knowledge about the legal and alternative job markets and differentiating job search skills; being a practical optimist; enjoying an affinity for marketing yourself and your services; and, as in most areas, being a good writer.
What advice do you have for someone who hopes to find a job similar to yours/in your field?
Think about starting as an on-campus counselor at a law school, as I did, or work in a legal or executive search firm. That way, you not only gain knowledge and skill, but you can determine whether legal career counseling is really a good fit for you.
What has been the best surprise in your career?
That lawyers can follow their interests and invent or pursue careers that are rewarding, in every way.
What might you do differently, in hindsight?
I would have started even sooner using the Internet and social media to enhance and advance my practice.
What do you do outside of work that helps you be successful?
I rest well and regularly, whether in town or via even a mini-vacation, to replenish my considerable energies; I have been doing transcendental meditation daily for decades, which provides additional rejuvenation and continual creativity. I enjoy both quiet time and the company of friends and family, in that strong relationships (with oneself and others) are key to wellbeing and longevity in the profession.