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Mining for Diamonds, Panning for Gold

Whenever a blogger takes a couple of weeks off to catch up with other things (in this case, preparing and making CLE presentations before the end of the year) you can count on it that he or she will have a ton of stuff piled up to share.

I receive lots of new books that publishers hope I’ll review.  My desk is piled high right now.  And I dutifully try to slog through them all because, every once in a great while, the payoff is that I find a real jewel which I can pass along.

My most recent such happy discovery is The Lawyer’s Guide to Finding Success in Any Job Market by Richard L. Hermann.  According to the information about the author on the back of the book, he received his JD from Cornell Law School and is a Concord Law School professor specializing in legal career management, as well as the founder and president of Federal Reports, Inc, a provider of legal career information in the US, and the co-founder of  He’s taken this background in lawyer career development and turned it into one of the single most useful books I’ve ever seen for lawyers who are worried about losing their jobs, lawyers who have already lost their jobs, and lawyers who would like to move from a less than thrilling practice area into something more fruitful.

The book, which is an extremely quick read, is organized into three parts that help you quickly find the information you need for your particular situation.

Part I is titled Eleventh Hour Job Preservation Strategies and walks you through some very practical suggestions for determining whether your job is really in danger and, if it is, finding creative ways to continue doing the same work through an alternative work arrangement with your current employer or transferring your skills to another practice area or outside provider of similar services.

Part II is the meat of the book, and covers Legal Careers that Thrive in Any Economy.  It’s initial chapter, titled The Dynamic Dozen:  Twelve Mainstream Opportunities outlines twelve areas of the law that are healthy, and will remain so for some time to come, because, in the author’s view, they are more heavily affected by “non-economic factors such as demographics, political and policy considerations, and commodity scarcity and corresponding pricing, to name a few, than economic factors.”

These areas include health law, energy law, food and drug law, government contract and procurement law, and land use and eminent domain, to name a few.  But Hermann doesn’t just suggest potential practice areas.  He goes on to break each area down, using the health care area as an example, by describing the what that area encompasses in terms of activities, in both law firm practice and health care provider practice.  He also outlines government related jobs at both the state and federal level, as well as private employers.  There is also information on law-related health care careers.

And for each practice area that he covers, he provides information on what it pays, who does it, future prospects, how to break in, and resources to seek more information.  This section of the book is an absolute cornucopia of information for anyone who is thinking about seeking out greener pastures for his or her practice.

The second chapter in Part II covers four countercyclical opportunities that the author feels the recession has presented to lawyers, and the third chapter outlines hot practice areas during a recession.  As with the preceding chapters, there is a huge amount of useful information, organized in a fashion that makes it easy to find, understand and use.

Part III is Job Hunting Tactics for Tough Times.  In it’s three short chapters, Hermann covers how to move forward when you face the loss of a job to create a strong resume that matches your skills to the job you’re seeking and then make sure that your resume stands out and you ace the interview.

If you are facing potential layoff or the axe has already fallen, or if you just want to move your existing practice forward by seeking new clients who need and can pay for your services, you can’t afford to let this book go by without a look.

FTC Blogger Swag Disclaimer:  I received nothing for writing this review but a copy of the book.