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February 27, 2009 2:55 PM

Laid Off? Now Might Be a Time to Fly Solo

Posted by Brian Baxter

So you've been laid off by your formerly munificent Am Law 200 employer.

If you're senior enough or have been reading the tea leaves for some months now, perhaps you've saved up enough of a nest egg to tide you over for a while after your severance runs out.

If not, then the thought of new living accommodations in your parents' basement is probably enough to send you fleeing to the nearest watering hole. (We know the feeling--after all, we work in journalism.)

But fear not, newest member to join the ranks of the unemployed. There are other options.

Sibling publication The National Law Journal reports that one of the first to consider is launching your own practice.

Former Manatt, Phelps & Phillips IP associate Omar Farooqui stepped up his networking efforts when he realized the ax was about to fall. A month after he was let go, Farooqui partnered up with a local bankruptcy attorney to launch a two-lawyer firm in San Jose.

"I just didn't want to sit at home, looking for jobs or swatting flies," Farooqui told the NLJ's Karen Sloan. "I've always wanted to [have my own firm] but I never had a reason to do it until I was laid off."

Farooqui's pitch to prospective clients focuses on highlighting his lower rates. It's tough work--most of Farooqui's time is spent networking and he makes about a third of what Manatt used to pay him--but it beats the breadline or sleeping under those Smurf sheets you thought mom had thrown away. (Dammit mom!)

If venturing out on your own strikes you as too risky, perhaps a job in furniture sales is in your future.

This week our friend Robert Ambrogi, Legal Blog Watch contributor and cohost of the podcast Lawyer2Lawyer with May It Please The Court blogger J. Craig Williams, has the story of a former insurance defense lawyer with more than 25 years of experience who has been unable to find a new job practicing law.

Paul Semanza's training as a trial lawyer generally serves him well in his new day job as a salesman in a furniture store, but he'd prefer to return to the courtroom.

In their program "Life After Lawyering," Ambrogi and Williams also speak to Indiana University associate professor of law William Henderson--whose courses cover the business of law--about the impact of the economic downturn on firms both large and small.

Last week Ambrogi noticed a post on the Settle It Now blog by Victoria Pynchon, a former Am Law 200 lawyer recounting her own layoff experience during the last major recession in 1992.

At the risk of sounding cliché, remember, whenever one door closes, another one opens--even if its the door to your parents' or in-laws' basement.

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I've got a daughter that is in her Jr. year with a 3.8 GPA and is concerned she will not get the chance to be laid off.
Richard Complainary, Publisher
http://www.complainary.com/

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