Book Review: What Can You Do With a Law Degree? A Lawyer's Guide to Career Alternatives Inside, Outside and Around the Law. |

Book Review: What Can You Do With a Law Degree? A Lawyer's Guide to Career Alternatives Inside, Outside and Around the Law.


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In August of this year, the Boston Bar Association released the final report of the Task Force on Professional Fulfillment. Under the able leadership of outgoing BBA President Joel Reck and former ABA President John Curtin, a committee of respected bar leaders made a broad series of recommendations on how law firms, corporate management, public employers and the BBA can promote career satisfaction amongst lawyers.
Book Review: What Can You Do With a Law Degree? A Lawyer's Guide to Career Alternatives Inside, Outside and Around the Law.

The Task Force thoroughly analyzed the issues from a variety of perspectives. A good deal of the recommendations that emerged were focused on institutional responses (e.g. how firms can promote career satisfaction through better internal training programs, how flexible work arrangements can promote work/family balance and how the BBA can decrease solo practitioner isolation by reinvigorating the BBA mentoring program). While the report does a terrific job of tackling the issues and proposing solutions at the macro level, individual attorneys wrestling with issues of career satisfaction may want some individual guidance. "What Can You Do With a Law Degree? A Lawyer's Guide to Career Alternatives Inside, Outside & Around the Law," Third Edition, provides that guidance. It is a well written, well organized, optimistic and completely updated handbook suitable for any attorney questioning his or her career choices.

The Third edition of "What Can You Do With a Law Degree" does not break any new ground in the area of attorney career planning. Career placement professionals in law schools have been telling law students for years the importance of self assessment, networking and building professional relationships as soon as possible. In this new edition, Arron does devote some time to the rules of the new workplace and offers valuable suggestions ("take responsibility for your own career development," "be adaptable and flexible," "build a career portfolio rather than trying to climb the ladder in one organization," "invest in life long learning," "look at technological savvy as a requirement, not an option"). But the real strength of her work is her great organization, wonderful anecdotes and easy to read format. She makes good use of bulleted lists, graphically offset information boxes and has a terrific set of appendices.

Deborah Arron has been in the attorney career business for over a decade. She wrote her first book, "Running From the Law" while on sabbatical from her law practice. She never did return to the practice of law, but instead has cultivated a national reputation in the area of attorney career development. The principal thesis of her book "What Can You Do With a Law Degree" is that many attorneys in career transition are asking the wrong question. To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, "Ask not what can you do?" but rather, "what do you want to do next with your law degree?"
Early on, Deborah Arron demonstrates that she understands how many lawyers think about career moves. In her forward, she starts with a fictitious classified advertisement: "Law school graduates wanted for highly-paid positions in interesting fields. No previous experience necessary. Mail in your resume to fill an immediate job vacancy." She uses this ad to illustrate the point that many lawyers want a career move to fall into their laps. Most attorneys do not recognize that building a career takes a much more focused effort . She organizes her book to reflect the work that must be done. After an overview of career development in general and career development issues that face dissatisfied lawyers in particular, she includes sections on self-assessment, researching the job market, things to do when considering an exit from the legal profession, and specific tools and techniques to employ in a job hunt.

One of the most information packed sections of the book is the Appendix. In the 6 appendices, one can find references to career resources whether you are thinking about a career in public relations, software consulting or sports management. In this new edition, there are also references to Internet addresses for sources of information.

Scattered throughout the book are numerous anecdotes based on real conversations that Deborah Arron has had with attorneys in transition. In a discussion about resistance to change, she quotes a former practicing attorney who had been in the Air Force before becoming a lawyer. "One of the big lessons they tried to get across to us in the Air Force was when to bail out. Too often, pilots ride their planes into the ground because it seems more comfortable and familiar inside the cockpit of their crippled airplane than hanging outside from a parachute that might not open."

After reading "What Can You Do With a Law Degree," you may still have no idea what to do next. Deborah Arron does not provide exhaustive descriptions of job titles that attorneys have filled (although she does provide 15 pages of capsule summaries of a broad array of jobs). But that is exactly the point. The art of finding career satisfaction is a lot of work and demands much introspection and research. Instead, "What Can You Do With a Law Degree" provides an easy to follow travel guide that can get you on your way. The book will help you choose a destination and the book gives you resources to consult while en route. It can help you get to some exciting places where you can be a lot happier, but it is up to you to gather the information, make the choices and head towards a destination.

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,, and, 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

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.

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