Legal Alternative Career Roadblock: people hate lawyers

Reply All 9/1/2011 Donna A. Lewis
Among the roadblocks for lawyers interviewing for jobs without the title lawyer is the fact that lots of people hate lawyers, and all of the Jerk Lawyers that the individuals on the hiring committee have ever dealt with are sitting your shoulders in an interview.

Why do people hate lawyers? The simple answers focus on lawyers' tv ads and the incessant political drumbeat against all malpractice litigation. 

 There are more complex and nuanced reasons:
  1. Lawyers deal with individuals' difficult problems. Individuals rarely visit lawyers to receive or deliver good news.They meet with people in suits who speak a different language and who present options which range from dreadful to unimaginable to unintelligible.While it is true that the best lawyers try very hard to make sure that their clients really understand problems and options, it never easy to be certain. Lawyering is hard work. 
  2. Lawyers deal with difficult problems in organizations. In organizations which separate legal from everything else, the Legal Department may be the last stop before presenting a project to Supreme Deciders for approval. This can get ugly.
Imagine that you are on a committee that has been charged with solving a problem, and, after months of research, you and your colleagues make the best presentation of your lives to one of The Lawyers. If The Lawyer has issues with your ideas, you hope to hear this:  
"Congratulations, you have done excellent work to define the problem and recommend solutions.We need to work together to iron out some issues that you may not have considered. I look forward to working with you before we present this proposal to The Supreme Deciders." 
The Lawyer may say something else. The Lawyer may look over his glasses and say "no." Just "no." It doesn't matter that at some future time, The Lawyer will collaborate with you.You and your colleagues know that you have been kicked in the stomach, and you all agree that you will never be keen on adding a law-trained person to your team. Who would want to work with A Jerk Lawyer, even in another capacity?

Your remedy: You may never know the individual stories of the Jerk Lawyers who join you in your interviews, but you should always remember that they may be there. Your job is to make sure that the people with whom you interview know that you are not a Jerk. Be prepared to discuss your work on teams and to demonstrate how you have collaborated with others. 

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