One might conclude from this introduction that what follows is a book with lots of sarcasm and little substance. But do not be mislead by the author’s irreverent and humorous writing style. This volume is packed with over 1,000 pages of useful information on traditional and non-traditional legal employers.
America's Greatest Places to Work With a Law Degree is a great reference volume for any lawyer in career transition or any law student trying to chart out a career path. There are chapters on finding good government jobs, public interest jobs and jobs with trade associations. There are special chapters on finding one of the ultimate dream jobs in sports, entertainment, and or in a number of other sexy industries.
The largest section of the book contains profiles of law firms. These are major firms that have tried to do things differently. Each profile contains basic background information on the firm (specialties, clients, etc.) and a description of “What it’s like to work there.”
Other chapters in the book have profiles of less traditional legal employers. Walton also includes chapters on how to make the most of any job and how to find jobs that are not listed in the book. (She comments that many of the “best” jobs are at small firms that are too small to be included in a national directory.)
This is Kimm Walton’s second major undertaking in the area of attorney career guidance. Her first work, Guerrilla Tactics for Getting the Legal Job of Your Dreams, is a national best seller. Walton, who herself quit the practice of law, also writes a column for the National Law Journal called “Dear Job Goddess” (a kind of Dear Abby for attorneys seeking employment). When she is not writing, she spends a portion of her time traveling the country as a motivational speaker.
Walton has chosen an interesting methodology for her research. Rather than directly surveying associates, partners, in-house counsel and lawyers working in non-legal positions (an awesome undertaking), she chose to speak with law school administrators. At the start of the book, she includes 3 pages of acknowledgments listing all of the administrators who contributed their thoughts (she also acknowledges the help of the many others who asked to remain anonymous.) In other words, she has clearly done a lot of homework.
The author emphasizes that each individual must decide for themselves what makes for a “great” job. Nonetheless, she identifies 19 qualities that are present in a good working environment (factors that have come up repeatedly in her discussions with lawyers). They include: 1) the employer matches or beats your idea what work would be like 2) the work is intellectually challenging 3) the hours are livable (or at least better than you thought), you have control over your scheduling and supervisors are sympathetic when you put in long hours 4) you receive tokens of appreciation from your employer 5) you feel that your work is meaningful 6) you play a significant role in the work 7) the compensation system is consistent with your values (whether lock step or eat-what-you-kill) 8) there are no artificial deadlines 9) the employer respects you personally 10) you know where you stand 11) supervisors are available to answer questions 12) supervisors share expertise with you 13) you have lots of responsibility early 14) you enjoy the people with whom you spend the most time 15) the organization is family friendly 16) you receive direct client contact 17) the support staff are happy 18) whatever you are doing is setting you up for what you want to do next and 19) the city where you live gives you the chance to contribute to the community.
One can certainly find fault in Walton’s methodology (i.e. law school administrators may have their own biases even though they speak with hundreds of law students and practicing attorneys); but she presents a convincing case why her method of gathering information is less prone to bias than directly soliciting input from attorneys about their jobs.
Kimm Walton is an optimist. She boldly states "I'll prove to you that you can take your law degree and have a great life, doing work you truly enjoy". Her basic premise is that the country is full of amazing law jobs, even large firms that belie the sweatshop image. And she has plenty of anecdotal evidence to prove it.
Walton also provides some tips on how to spot the telltale signs of a bad workplace (i.e. when you are checking out an opportunity). She includes: looking at the partner associate ratio, looking at the retention rate of associates, and observing how much laughter and happiness there seems to be when walking around the hallways.
America's Greatest Places to Work With a Law Degree is filled with practical career advice. While overall this is a great resource for law student and attorneys alike, the only criticism would be that it is perhaps too ambitious in trying to serve as a national reference title. For example, despite the great bulk of material, attorneys in Massachusetts will only find six entries of employers in Massachusetts and none of them are major law firms headquartered in Boston. This is noteworthy because Boston firms did very well in the American Lawyer's 1998 Survey of Mid-level Associates. According to the survey, 7 of the top 20 firms were located in the Hub.
Nonetheless, Walton is not trying to create a national ranking system and she openly admits that there may be employers who were omitted and deserve to be included in the next edition of the book. Furthermore, reading profiles from some of the employers in other cities will give a reader some idea of what to look for and what questions to ask. In short, America's Greatest Places to Work With a Law Degree is a very worthwhile purchase. It just weighs a lot.
About Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.
With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.
Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.
Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.
One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog, HarrisonBarnes.com, and BCGSearch.com, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.
One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.
Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.
In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.
Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.
In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.
About BCG Attorney Search
BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit www.BCGSearch.com.
Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom
Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom
You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays
You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts
You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives
Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.
Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.
To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.