The Friday Five

Five To-Dos for Unemployed Senior Lawyers

By | Jul.26.13 | Daily Dispatch, Law Practice, Legal Careers, The Friday Five

The Friday Five

Last month, Jared Correia wrote two excellent posts on why older lawyers are finding it harder to stay employed and the challenges encountered because of certain employer assumptions. Now it’s time to focus on what out-of-work senior lawyers should be doing to rejoin the workforce.

Here are my five to-dos.

1. Count Your Blessings

You have plenty to be grateful for. It may be your family, your health, your friends, and perhaps you even own a house where the mortgage has been paid. Every day, remind yourself of what these things are. You are more than a job; never forget that.

2. Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself

It’s time for some tough love. I am well aware that whatever the circumstances surrounding your job loss, you believe it just doesn’t seem fair. And you know what? You’re probably right. But get over it. Dwelling on the past will not help you find a job. In fact, it will hinder your job search. No one wants to hire someone who complains or whines about their predicament. Do not start your job search until you can start looking forward. Think ahead, not behind.

3. Take Care of Yourself

Being unemployed and looking for work is stressful. Don’t be too hard on yourself. While looking for a job is a full-time job, you still need to take a break. Exercise. Read a novel. Do whatever it takes to relax your mind and body on a regular basis.

4. Take a “Time Out”

Your next job may very well be the last one in your career. Reflect. Do you really still want to do the same old, same old? Perhaps now is the time to explore something new (within or outside of the legal profession) that you were too risk-averse to consider while employed.

5. Be Persistent and Patient

Looking for work is never easy — and it certainly is not when some of your hair is gray. Stay focused on your job-hunting plan and don’t give up. Accept the fact that it will likely take longer than you hope to find a new job. And yes, even though it is against the law, you may even be discriminated against because of your age. The likelihood of proving that, however, is slim to none. (I practiced employment law for 20 years before becoming an attorney coach and know this area all too well.) It is usually best to move on. There are employers who value experience and maturity; you’ll just have to keep searching until you find them. And you will, if you remember the “two P’s” and are persistent and patient.

This Too Shall Pass

You’ve already lived a relatively full life. So being unemployed as a senior lawyer is probably not your first significant setback, be it professional or personal. You’ve bounced back before, and there is no reason to think you can’t do it one more time.

Good luck. A little of that can’t hurt, either!

Roy S. Ginsburg is an attorney coach who works one-to-one in the areas of business development, practice management and career development. He has practiced law for more than 25 years in large to small firms and in a corporate setting. He is currently an active solo with a part-time practice in legal marketing ethics and employment law. Learn more at

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One Response to “Five To-Dos for Unemployed Senior Lawyers”

  1. jackl
    26 July 2013 at 7:08 am #

    Agree with the above, here’s another suggestion:

    6. Reconsider “hanging out a shingle” and doing “modest means representation” for everyday legal problems.

    Probably like many of you, I’d spent more than 30 years working on the esoteric legal problems of our corporate overlords in increasingly specialized fields (health and safety of large industrial concerns like chemical and semiconductor factories). After the 2008 crash, and the outsourcing of that work to Asia, my branch medium sized law firm closed its doors and I was laid off, after previously been bought out/involuntary “early retired” from another greedy law firm four years earlier (which thought they would inherit my work, but didn’t, LOL).

    The notion of “starting over” and question of “why don’t you hang out a shingle” made me barf, until i considered I was too young to “retire” and couldn’t afford to. My therapist convinced me there was a market in the normal parade of her other patients with a steady need for divorce, child custody, domestic abuse, criminal law and house closings. “It isn’t rocket science” she said, “you can do it”.

    And she was right, especially since I had up to date “internet” skills from having blogged for a popular music fan site and understood (unlike almost all small lawyers in my area) how blogs, Google places, attorney directories and sites like could be leveraged to do effective, low cost advertising/publicity in a way that the expensive Yellow Pages or TV ads of that past couldn’t touch. And that all you needed was a laptop computer, a laser printer, a VOIP phone and an internet connection to be “in business” for less than a couple thou.