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Nicholas Lore On Finding a Satisfying Legal Career [by Teresa Talerico] It isn’t “Law and Order” or a John Grisham yarn, but choose wisely and a law career can be even better than those TV, movie, or paperback versions. The trick is discovering your niche and avoiding the disenchantment that sideswipes some lawyers, said career counseling expert Nicholas Lore.
Founder of the Rockport Institute, a
areas of special talents. And that’s a survival
through a testing program that measures
Washington, DC-based career-counseling
advantage for the tribe. That’s true with
natural talents and abilities and personality
program, and author of the highly acclaimed
people, except we’re much more broad in
traits. I would recommend they do something
career-guidance book, The Pathfinder: How
our abilities and the differences between us.
like that. The problem is that people’s own
to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success, Mr. Lore said more than half of most attorneys are dissatisfied with their careers. A 1990 American Bar Association study found that 54% of lawyers are frustrated that they do not have much time for themselves. A former psychology major, cardboard-box-factory owner and CEO, Mr. Lore himself struggled with finding his niche until he realized he loved helping others find theirs.
So everything in the natural world, if it’s not
perceptions about what fits them usually
doing what it’s perfectly suited for, it ends up
are pretty basic. Doing some in-depth self
dying. Everybody’s born with very, very differ-
assessment, so that you know the direction
ent sets of natural talents and abilities.
you’re picking is something that’s a natural
The talents that it takes to be a good student
fit for you, is the best way to ensure you’re
are the same ones it takes to do the work of
satisfied with the work that you have.
Q: Why are so many lawyers unhappy?
A: I would say that it’s worth putting in the
It’s difficult to do self assessment because
time and energy to do a really careful job
a young person’s head is filled with all these
A: People often go to law school for the
of selecting which direction you’re going to
concepts and ideas about what they’re like.
wrong reasons. It’s not so much a choice
What they know about who they are is based
they’ve made as it seems like the most
If you’re looking to work in law, there are
on what they’ve done in the past. And basi-
reasonable thing to do. So they’re not neces-
personality types, what we call maestros,
cally their life has been set in school. And
sarily committed to being a lawyer with a
or expert-type people. Most of the people
school is very unlike the real world. That’s
passion. Lots of people go to law school
that work in law firms have that kind of very
why so many people don’t like practicing law.
when they don’t know what else to do.
concentrated personality. But there also a
They misunderstood what they were getting
Also the idea that people have of what it’s
lot of people who graduate from law schools,
into some of the time. But even more basic,
like to practice law comes mainly from tele-
we think of them as tribal--they work with
they weren’t making clear and sharp enough
vision and movies. And it isn’t anything like
and through others. They might end up being
distinctions about themselves that allowed
that. In television and movies, you never see
in-house corporate counsel, where there’s
them to pick something that was a good fit. It
somebody sitting all day long behind a desk
more interplay between people. The thing
could very well be that a lot of those people
piled up with papers.
about a lot of law firms is you’re kind of on
would be happy in law if they picked the right
People who really like what they do have
your own when you get to the point where
specialty in law or the right environment in
a match between their natural talents and
you become a partner. It’s almost like having
abilities and the work they do.
a doctor’s office in a medical building, so
Human beings are a lot of things. But at
you’re not working in a team with people.
the bottom line, we’re creatures, biologi-
The first thing to do is to really make distinc-
cal beings. If you’ve ever watched any of the
tions about what you’re like. (The Rockport
A: Once again, know thyself…You can go
Jane Goodall programs, the chimps not only
Institute attracts) a lot of young people in
through a testing program. We’re probably
have different personalities, but they have
graduate school or recently out that go
the global leaders in helping people pick
being a lawyer, but not necessarily the ones that it takes to be satisfied being a lawyer.
Q: You mentioned doing self-assessment. How specifically do you do that?
Q: What’s your advice for law school graduates?
A: At the very least, you should do a personality test, sort of a Myers-Briggs-type test.
Q: How do you do that?
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careers that are a great fit. We have clientele
than just purely working on legal issues.
all over the world. A lot of them are younger people, people in graduate school or about
Q: What if you get out of law school and panic,
that time when they wake up and realize
realizing you’re not sure you want to be an at-
things are not going to automatically turn out
torney? Meanwhile, you’re faced with massive
the way they hoped they would.
student loan debt.
Q: How much does the Rockport program
A: At least what you want to do is find the
best place for yourself in law. Law is an enormously varied profession. It’s amazing.
A: Really all they need is $520. That gets a
The ways of practicing law are much broader
very complete measuring of everything known
than the different ways of practicing medicine,
about natural talents and abilities and per-
for example. There are things in law that fit
sonality traits, an assessment and an in-depth
a very wide range of people. The problem is
personal interpretation with a lot of subtlety.
that people don’t think about it that way. They
It’s subtle to the point where medical students
have fairly conservative ideas about what’s
use it to pick a specialty, and it works equally
available in law and what the options are. They
well for people who are figuring out where to
really need to look at it more as possibilities
hang their shingle in the world of law.
- what’s possible? How can I find a way to practice law that is a pretty darn good fit?
Q: What tips do you have for those who feel they can’t afford the $520? A: There are two books I can recommend. There’s my book, “The Pathfinder,” which has a whole guide to choosing a career. There’s another book called “Do What You Are.” I would suggest getting both of those books and really digging in. Q: Can you describe a Rockport success story? A: One example is somebody who was working toward a partnership in one of the huge Washington law firms, and something was just wrong about it. She realized exactly what the problem was. She recognized that the way her personality was structured, she wanted to have a much more team approach than she had in the law firm. So she ended up getting a job with a corporation as their counsel. The people she was working with were very different than the people in the law firm. They were very much more group and team oriented… she found that she was playing a part in senior level strategic planning and so forth rather
Nicholas Lore On Finding a Satisfying Legal Career.