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100 Tips and Resources to be a Happy, Successful Lawyer

Lawyers and law students are under lots of stress tracking billable hours, attracting new clients, landing the right summer program and researching, networking and managing cases after hours. To keep you grounded and focused on elevating your career, we’ve generated this list of job boards, quick reference guides, tips for avoiding the burnout and advice for finding time for yourself. The rest is up to you.

Lawyer Associations

Become a member of one of these associations — if you aren’t already — to rack up on benefits, travel discounts, and of course, lots of networking opportunities.

  1. American Bar Association: If you’re a lawyer, you’re already a part of this organization, so take advantage of your membership to learn about continuing education, access journals, look for jobs and more.
  2. American Association for Justice: Trial lawyers belong to this association for research benefits, support, discounts on products and services, the mentor program, networking and to work on protecting the image of the trial lawyer and U.S. justice system.
  3. ACLU: Keep track of civil rights legislation and issues by becoming a member of the ACLU or just visiting their website from time to time.
  4. Association of Federal Defense Attorneys: If you work in a federal DA’s office, consider joining this group for networking purposes, learning about job openings, and plenty of discounts on travel-related purchases.
  5. National Lawyers Association: Attorneys who want a say in decisions and opinions passed by the ABA fight to be heard through this organization.
  6. Federal Bar Association: Private and governmental lawyers working at the federal level are eligible to join this group.

Lawyer Blogs

Let off steam, find out what your fellow attorneys are up to, and gain insight into the issues of the day when you check out one or all of these lawyer blogs.

  1. Real Lawyers Have Blogs: Visit this blog for analysis and tips on firm marketing, using social media, PR for your firm and more.
  2. JDBliss: This blog is all about “balancing life and the law,” and you’ll find plenty of posts that share tips on how attorneys can maintain a work/life balance.
  3. TalkLeft: This widely read liberal blog covers “the politics of crime” and issues relating to social justice.
  4. Overlawyered: Touted as the oldest law blog online, Overlawyered is maintained by Walter Olson of the Manhattan Institute and wonders at how the American legal system can be easily manipulated and corrupted.
  5. SCOTUS Blog: SCOTUS Blog is the blog for the Supreme Court. Here you’ll find descriptions and analysis of filings, orders and opinions and legal news.
  6. Bag and Baggage: Denise Howell, an appellate, intellectual property and technology lawyer, combines legal issues and personal anecdotes in her posts.
  7. HealthLaw Blog: Learn about all the health care-related issues and legislations in this blog, written by a Dallas professor.
  8. BenefitsBlog: Recent posts from this blog cover 401(k) plans, tax humor, small business plans to help employees retire and more.
  9. WSJ Law Blog: Turn to the Wall Street Journal‘s Law Blog for the latest law news from around the world.
  10. Trial Lawyer Resource Center: Get trial tips from other lawyers, read member blogs, read about lawyers and social media sites, and learn about how you can become a better trial lawyer.
  11. Scrivener’s Error: Get commentary on censorship, the law and the media here.
  12. Lawyer.com Blogs: Browse titles from various contributors on Lawyer.com for different takes on top legal news stories.

Social Media and Networking

If you’re happy hour-ed out or can’t get to the club because you’ve been putting in too much overtime, take your networking online by visiting these sites.

  1. Legal Associations: To access even more networking opportunities and get the chance to be more well-known in your field, join an association just for your niche, like the Greek American Lawyers Association or the Cyberlaw Association.
  2. Facebook: One of the most popular social media networks in the U.S., Facebook affords businesses and professionals, including lawyers, the ability to network, advertise and get the word out about their expertise.
  3. How can a lawyer make money from social media?: This posting reveals how lawyers can use social media sites as advertising portals.
  4. LinkedIn: LinkedIn has been gaining a lot of momentum for the professional set, awarding access to priceless networking opportunities and inside scoop.
  5. Plaxo: Plaxo helps you stay connected with your social circle and your business network. You can also track what your friends are doing on sites like YouTube, Flickr and Digg.
  6. Law firms should learn to love social network sites: Kevin O’Keefe discusses the different ways lawyers and law firms can harness the benefits of social media, from Facebook to collaboration tools to recruiting strategies.
  7. Ning: Ning works by letting its members create their own social media groups, so you can invite special clients and collaborators into an exclusive space to network, work on projects and more.
  8. Reddit: Reddit, like Digg, allows users to post stories from around the web. Use it to add posts from your blog, driving more traffic to your site.
  9. Ryze: Ryze is a business networking site that could be especially useful to law firms or lawyers with corporate clients. Browse the classifieds section, post events, and invite friends to expand your circle.
  10. Social Media Latest Networking Tool for Lawyers: If you’re still not convinced that social media can help your career, read this article from the blog, Practicing Law in the 21st Century.

Continuing Education

Ambitious lawyers need to be at the top of their field if they want to attract great clients and snag promotions. There are a number of continuing legal education resources available to help you earn another degree or master technologies and ideas emerging in your field.

  1. Back to school: Consider taking a few classes or earning another degree to learn about cutting edge theories and research, or to take your practice in a new direction by creating a new area to specialize in.
  2. Online Legal CLE: WorldWideLearn posts a lot of resources for those in the legal field wanting to research continuing education courses.
  3. Attend conferences: If you think you’re too busy to attend a conference, think again. Attending can bring you more networking opportunities and the chance to learn about all the new research and issues surrounding your field.
  4. ACLEA: ACLEA, or the Association for Continuing Legal Education, encourages members to sit on the boards and take an active hand in designing continuing education programs in various legal studies.
  5. Now, Continuing Education for Lawyers: This New York Times article from 1998 documents how continuing education became a must for lawyers in the state. Even if your state doesn’t require continuing ed classes, the article brings up many points supporting the benefits of a similar program.
  6. CLE Now!: The ABA’s continuing legal education page has podcasts and recorded lectures on real estate law, employment law, family law, government law and more.
  7. NALA Campus: Encourage your legal assistants and secretaries to prepare for certification and go back to school, making your entire office more cutting edge.
  8. West Legal Ed center: Here, you’ll find accredited continuing legal education programs, including live webcasts and more.
  9. Continuing Education of the Bar: If you practice law in California, you can find CLE resources and publications on this site.
  10. ALI-ABA for CLE: The American Law Institute and the American Bar Association team up on this site to bring CLE resources to law professionals.

Avoiding the Burn Out

Try to remember why you became a lawyer in the first place. If you feel totally removed from that sentiment, you need to work extra hard on avoiding burn out and retaking control over your career.

  1. Get out of the office: Even if you feel stuck under piles of research and briefs, get out every once in a while in the name of networking and keeping in touch with the real issues affecting your clients.
  2. Open a window: Fresh air boosts your mood, can improve your focus and may even help you view things with a new perspective.
  3. Hunt for new clients: If you have the time to take on new clients, start advertising. The new cases will keep your work fresh.
  4. Take a class: If you’re tired of the same kind of cases and professional circle, take a class that either relates to your field or something completely unrelated, like dancing or cooking. Your mind will appreciate the break.
  5. Spend time with family and friends: Family and friends will keep you grounded and give you a chance to connect on a level other than your clients’ cases.
  6. Identify burnout pressure points: MindTools.com urges overwhelmed individuals to learn how to identify their burnout pressure points so that you can learn how to avoid stress factors and figure out the things about your job that give you the most satisfaction.
  7. Learn how to sleep: Even if you think you’re getting enough sleep, your routine could probably use some help. Learn how to sleep on a regular schedule, meditate, and create the optimum sleeping environment to help you feel refreshed every time you start the day.
  8. Challenge yourself: Take on an extra project, invite a new colleague to lunch, or start using a new software program to keep your mind and your practice fresh and cutting edge.
  9. Remember how to be ambitious: Most lawyers are incredibly ambitious to have been able to finish law school and pass the bar. Don’t forget the drive that got you to where you are right now. Keep pushing yourself by learning about new career paths and opportunities, like opening up your own firm or switching fields.
  10. Set goals for every milestone you achieve: Instead of plodding through your to-do lists every month, think of your tasks as goals. Celebrate every time you reach a certain goal, even if it’s as small as finishing a brief or hiring a new legal assistant.

Articles on Work-Life Balance

Lawyers have to keep a strict watch on their billable hours to reach a quota for their firm and keep clients happy. Make sure you’re still able to make yourself and your family happy by also achieving a work-life balance.

  1. Attorney Work Life Balance Calculator: JDBliss’ work-life balance calculator is designed especially for attorneys with billable hours goals and non billable activities, like lunch, personal time and administrative duties.
  2. Six Steps for Creating Greater Work-Life Balance for Lawyers: This article reveals tips for lawyers who need to reevaluate their schedules, from understanding “that there is enough time in the day to effectively accomplish work-related tasks” to making regular time for activities you enjoy.
  3. Work-Life Balance of Professionalism: Who Wins?: The Simple Justice blog weighs two arguments for and against work-life balance in the legal arena.
  4. More on work/life balance…is it just a fad?: The Life at the Bar blog wonders whether or not work-life balance for lawyers is a worthwhile goal.
  5. How Working Mothers Find Work-Life Balance: The Fast Company Blog takes a look at how working mothers try to balance out home responsibilities with their growing professional careers.
  6. Be selfish: WebMD asks overworked professionals to “protect [their] private time” in order to maintain a healthy work-life balance. When possible, decline a happy hour or late night party to chill out at home, get some extra sleep or indulge in a favorite activity.
  7. Get help when you need it: If you’re a high-level attorney and don’t want to seem like you can’t handle the work load, pass off your stress by giving a little extra work to your summer associates or interns. Just make sure they’re allowed to take breaks and weekends too.
  8. Make up your own “busy schedule”: Inspired Business Growth writer Wendy Piersall recommends setting up a “busy schedule” for overworked entrepreneurs. Professionals often put in overtime on busy days, “but work can suck you in, and you can justify far too many hours in the name of growth. So set up a routine for ‘busy days’ – perhaps you work 2-4 extra hours, and stick to that schedule, working nothing beyond it.”
  9. Be healthy: Maintain a healthy diet and work out whenever you can. Busy lawyers sometimes fuel up on too much caffeine and rich lunches or take-out when they’re on the clock, and neglecting your health will run you to the ground.
  10. Take a vacation: Even if it’s just a weekend or one-day getaway to someplace close by, try to plan a vacation to completely escape the daily grind and hectic schedule of your normal work day.

Job Boards

Maybe the only thing you need to feel happier and more secure in your job is a new one. Visit these job boards to learn about new career opportunities for lawyers.

  1. Yorz: Yorz provides members with “access to the best career opportunities for top professionals.” Find and post jobs, and use the site for networking purposes.
  2. Vault.com Law Job Board: Search by state, world region, salary range, keyword or specialty.
  3. Law Crossing: On this site, you can search over 100,000 different job listings for positions with firms, judges, corporations and more.
  4. AttorneyJobs: AttorneyJobs claims to be “the nation’s #1 job site exclusively for attorneys.” You can search domestic and international jobs by subscribing.
  5. Legal Authority: Get job search tips, information about different attorney work environments and access to a job search service here.

Law References and Research Tools

Hit up these online references for lawyers when you want legal definitions, forms and referrals fast.

  1. LawGuru: The general public and lawyers use this site to quickly find legal forms, a legal dictionary and other resources.
  2. FindLaw: Brush up on areas outside your specialty by browsing subjects like family law, criminal justice, home ownership, health care law and more.
  3. LegalEngine.com: Get government forms and access law books and resources for every time of legal issues, from tort law to sports law to domestic relations to maritime law.
  4. MegaLaw: Get connected to law websites, legal forms, jobs, federal cases and more on this site.
  5. CataLaw: This search engine and legal research resource lets you search cases and topics by state and country, as well as by source, like law schools, legal periodicals and more.
  6. Law.com Dictionary: When you don’t have time to flip through your hefty books, do a quick word search here.
  7. Legal Dictionary: Search by keyword or look up a specific word in this online legal dictionary.
  8. HG.org: This site connects attorneys to all kinds of legal libraries, journals, publishers, dictionaries and other reference sites, as well as job postings, legal marketing advice and a legal business center.
  9. MIT Open Courseware: Take a free class online from MIT to learn more about law in anthropology, business, technology, cyberlaw and other topics.
  10. Law.com Quest: Lawyers can use this research tool to quickly access “hundreds of hand-picked law firm websites and legal blogs,” as well as journals, articles and more.

Lawyer Humor

Relax for just a minute or two each day when you read and share these legal humor sites.

  1. Lawyer Cartoons: From the insanity plea to pro bono work, check out these humorous law-related cartoons.
  2. James Fuqua’s Law Jokes: Have a laugh sharing these lawyer jokes around the office, which poke fun at how lawyers might have responded to the Declaration of Independence, cartoon character-inspired cases, and others.
  3. Stu’s Views: Law and Lawyer Cartoons: Browse funny cartoon topics like money, hours and stress; law firm personnel; lawyer’s lifestyle, and cartoons of cases.
  4. Jokes About the Legal Profession: This page features a complete list of lawyer jokes.
  5. Legal Humor: This site is actually all bout learning “how to use humor to enhance work productivity and personal experience.” Find quotes and humorous articles here.
  6. MadKane: Read law-related limericks and humorous odes on this site. Sample titles include “New Year’s Resolutions Contract” and “Ode to Tom DeLay.”
  7. Legal Humor ecards: Send one of these hysterical ecards to your colleagues to take the stress out of your day.
  8. Lawyer Jokes: Click through this long list of funny jokes about attorneys.
  9. Courtroom Humor: Trial attorneys and judges will appreciate these jokes.
  10. Cafe Press: Stock up on these novelty items and gag gifts, from a sweatshirt that proclaims, “Lawyers Have Feelings, Too…Allegedly” to products with jokes about billable hours.

Resources for New Lawyers and Law Students

Law students and new associates will find tips for surviving their new work environments, applying for internships and studying their way to the end.

  1. LSAC: College students and law school students who are starting to plan their legal careers need to go over the resources on this official site.
  2. About Law School: The Princeton Review: Get an overview of what to expect in law school, from applications to the first year experience to picking a specialization to legal clinics.
  3. There’s No Competition in Law School: A group of 3Ls shares advice for younger law students while also doling out the real-life misery and fun of being a law school vet.
  4. Tips for Summer Associates: Lydia R.B. Kelley stresses the importance of knowing deadlines for summer associates.
  5. JD Law Students Blog: Various law students “share their thoughts and experiences” for the benefit of other students and future law students.
  6. Links for New Lawyers: Get survival tips and help choosing a firm with this guide.
  7. Marketing and Networking: A Conceptual Framework: New lawyers get a crash course in networking and promoting themselves and their practice in this article.
  8. Five Indispensable Tips for Law Students and New Lawyers: The Legal Underground shares tips like “learn to use legal technology” and “don’t be an asshole” to give new lawyers’ careers a boost.
  9. Firm Attorneys Offer Tips for Summer Associates: The Virginia law school site posts this article that will help summer associates land a job at the firm.
  10. 10 Survival Tips for New Associates: Tips like “don’t be afraid to be a new associate,” “know the rules,” and “stay in touch with friends” will help new associates adjust to their new life.

Fighting Discrimination

Lawyers are supposed to fight for justice, but discrimination still exists in the industry. Read below for resources that analyze and try to help women, the disabled, and minorities fight discrimination in the workplace.

  1. Tipping the Balance: This article from the Sacramento Business Journal discovers the different ways in which male and female lawyers promote themselves and contribute to their firms.
  2. What Lawyers Need to Know About Gender Bias in the Workplace: This excerpt of an article from the Institute for Continuing Legal Education is a must-read for anyone who feels discriminated against at work.
  3. Hispanic Law Students’ Perceptions of Discrimination, Justice and Career Prospects: Access the full text of this article with PDF to find out how Hispanic law students are gearing up to become a part of the legal profession.

Getting out of Debt

Even lawyers in top firms have to worry about paying off their law school debt. Get creative as well as tried and true methods here.

  1. As Salaries Rise, So Does the Debt: LawJobs.com’s article on the “runaway costs for a legal education” also considers rising salaries of newer lawyers.
  2. Paying for Law School: Debt Matters: This article is geared towards students entering law school, but it does have some advice for those trying to pay off loans.
  3. How to Cut Debt, Boost Job Prospects From Law School: This WSJ article takes a look at the struggle for law school students to weigh the pros and cons of picking a law school based on future job opportunities and preparation vs. the amount of debt that would be accumulated.
  4. Should You Pay Off Your Law School Student Loans or Invest?: This short Q&A on Law Vibe tries to find an alternative to paying law school debt year after year.

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