Is Abroad Better?

The question I’m struggling with now is whether spending time working overseas would be beneficial to my career. Don’t get me wrong, I am interested in going abroad, but have heard mix responses from various people as to the benefits of becoming an expat. I am currently working in the largest and most competitive legal market in the U.S. (if not the world) and know that there is no substitute for this city anywhere in the business world. But that seems to be changing somewhat, even if the change is slow. There seem to be opportunities overseas that will allow someone to save a lot of money because the company will cover housing and  children’s private school tuition in addition to providing great perks and good compensation. But how easy are those jobs to get? And is it really the best move for my family? Maybe I can be in a position to travel with my work while based in the U.S. and benefit from the best of both worlds. This has been on my mind a lot lately, with my first child coming in four months and my wife’s career about to take off. For the past several years I have always seen myself moving overseas. Now, I am starting to rethink the whole plan. The bottom line, I think, is this: if the benefits outweigh the costs, I can likely convince my wife to go. Until I can receive that type of offer, we’ll enjoy our life in the U.S. of A.    

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Cruising

I like to think that I have done a good amount of traveling in my life. Of course, there are too many places I have yet to visit, but that is true for the vast majority of people. One thing I have wanted to do for a long time, however, is to take a cruise. Absent a tragedy while on board, I have hardly heard of a bad experience someone had while on a cruise, regardless of where in the world they went.  Wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to have the time to take one of those three-month cruises around the world? To sit on deck with nothing but ocean as far as the eye can see, while absorbing that time of day when the weather cools off but the sun has not yet set, and to read or talk with the one you love – now that would be the life. To visit ports-of-call from Goa to Kona to Cape Town. Imagine that.

Perhaps it could be possible one day – it only requires time and money, two commodities that many people continually wish for more of. The question is not if to do it, but rather when to do it. Is it more practical to save money and hang on to that security for retirement, kids’ college tuition, etc. or am I better off spending the money in exchange for perhaps one of the most memorable experiences of my life? Of course, this question applies to much more than whether or not to take a cruise. Let’s hope that once I have more resources I have the brains to enjoy myself while having the wisdom to leave something more to come home to. After all, life is about more than cruises to Singapore.

To: JDs Without A Job

Below is the email I wrote to a 2L from my law school who contacted me regarding a job.

Thanks for the e-mail. I started here at this firm in September and am in the corporate and securities group. Although the firm does have a small trusts and estates practice, I have no idea what their needs are or if they are even looking for someone to work part-time. What I can do, however, is give you my advice as a recent graduate. 

I know that it can be difficult trying to get a job. Believe me I was just there. But you are doing the right thing by contacting alumni. I contacted many alumni while at and it paid off. I received a lot of advice and made some great contacts. I would recommend that you contact alumni seeking advice and information as to how they got to where they are, as opposed to coming across as if you are asking for a job. The latter will not get you very far, which I learned. It was very frustrating for me throughout my last two years of law school.   

When I contacted alumni, I genuinely wanted to know how they got to where they were so that I could learn from them. And it worked. In time, alumni were pointing me towards other alum that I couldn’t find online. Use the alumni mentor database and contact people throughout the country, not just in the cities you like. For the alumni that respond, personalize your message back to them and ask if you could speak to them on the phone about any advice they have. Set up a time to call and follow through. Once they speak with you and see that you’re a good person that really is looking for the right opportunity, they’ll remember you and will be willing to let you know if something comes up at their firm. It takes guts sometimes to call people you don’t know and have a good conversation, but once you do it a few times, it becomes easier and you learn what works and what doesn’t.  

Ironically, I did not receive my job through networking. The corporate group that I’m in now was growing and I got my resume in at the right time. But I let the alumni that I was in touch with know once I started here in September and have been in touch with them since. I now have a lifelong group of lawyers around the country that I have spoken with a few times, emailed many times, and feel comfortable contacting in the future. So my networking paid off.  

But I didn’t have a job when I graduated last May, and you may not either. Stay positive. The law school has a bad reputation in the city and it rubs off on the students. There are plenty of alum in big firms if that is what you want to do, but you have to believe in yourself and go after what you want. Your dream job may not come right away, but there is no reason to take a job you don’t like out of law school merely because you have no other options. Make options. Find the opportunities and go after them. I learned the hard way and think that I am a better lawyer because of it. In my last two years of school I sent close to 1000 resumes and finally got the job I have now. It can be frustrating – I know.  But don’t give up. You’ll get it. 

Law of Not?

It’s interesting to think that I am working as a lawyer. I don’t even feel like I use, let alone know the law. After being immersed in laws and rules through three years of law school and a grueling two months studying for the bar exam, I am now free from cases and the minutia of the law. Yet I am doing what I thought I wanted to try. The good news, I guess, is that I do not feel as if I miss the law, with its neverending rules of objective reasonableness. Sadly, though, regardless of how I would classify what I’m doing now, the bottom line is that I don’t know if I have it in me to do it forever (but is there anything I could really do “forever”?). I have learned a lot and enjoy it for now, but I have other dreams. The key is timing, preparation, persistence and believing in myself. I can do whatever I want in life. And when I find what that is, I will never have to “work” another day again.  

Federal Way Forever?

I grew up in a great city called Federal Way – named so because it developed around the main route between Seattle and Tacoma, in western Washington. Federal Way, just south of Seattle, was the sixth largest city in Washington when I lived there. It was a good mix of cultures, very suburban, and full of the state’s evergreen trees. It was a good place to live while I was young. I made good friends, a handful of which I still faithfully keep in touch with. We called ourselves ETC throughout most of high school.

I don’t go back to Federal Way too often, but when I do it’s not the same. In fact, I’ll probably never live there again. This is far from my thoughts around the time I was graduating from high school. Our lives and our memories were in Federal Way and no one could take that from us. For us, Federal Way was real – to the point that when I moved out of the state after high school, I bought a personalized license plate frame  for my car that read on the bottom, “Federal Way Forever”.  But now, with my ten year high school reunion on the near horizon, I do not feel like yelling, “Federal Way Forever!” I will never forget the times I had with the ETC boys, but I will no longer say, “And when I die, let it be, but when they come for me, bury me a G – Federal Way represent”. 

My Vote for 2008

I am not a politician and do not count politics as a hobby of mine. But I nonetheless find myself following political news, especially the currently heated debate about the race for the White House in 2008. Never before can I remember so much hype so early. We barely entered 2007 and you would think that the election was less than a year away. Maybe it is because I’m older and am more settled in my opinions, but there is finally a potential presidential candidate that I feel supporting – Mitt Romney. I have voted for both parties at different times and do not pledge allegiance to any party. I am impressed with and like Obama and think he could be good for this country. But I am more impressed with Romney, his leadership skills, business background, and sound values. It is far too early to tell who will win the Republican and Democratic ticket, but I am just happy to know that it could be someone I feel good supporting, as opposed to choosing who I thought was the lesser evil, as in recent presidential elections.

Will Work for Work

I guess that I thought I would be busier than this once I got my job out of law school. But the powers that be keep telling me that January is a slow month. And I believe them, with the amount of work that is going on here. Meanwhile, I have the time to read other people’s blogs and to think about my next move – even if I don’t plan on taking it for a little while. I must admit, though, that I was on my college’s website cruising around reminiscing and the images of the palm trees, the beach and the sun did look nice, not to mention the memories that came flooding back. But this is my life now. A nice office with good people and no work. Could I ever get used to this?