Career Guides

And . . . Just Like That

By

This book will launch on Jan 19, 2021. Currently, only those with the link can see it. 🔒

Loved it! 😍

An intimate, smart, well-written memoir set in New York City. A coming of age story, a lifetime of corporate law and a leap to freedom.

Synopsis

Forty-one years of a life in the law, and then, one day, no more law. Just like that. Many law students and attorneys never actually want to be attorneys. They spend hours exploring ways to leave the practice of law. Did I always want to be an attorney living the law firm life? Heavens, no! With humor and self-deprecation, poignancy and bite, this book presents observations on my life before the law, my forty-one years in the law, and my life after I left. This is my story of my career pivot from law to service in the not for profit world. If you're a law student or an attorney; if you know an attorney, if you live with an attorney, if you are friends with an attorney, if you are curious about attorneys, and if you hire attorneys, if you are stuck in any career you would like to leave, you will find this book an entertaining read of how one attorney finally dreamed his way into his law afterlife.

Mark Shaiken has written an intimate smart memoir, a coming-of-age story of a small boy, a Russian Jew who lived in Queens, NYC, moved to New Haven, Connecticut, and back again. He does a great job of capturing the city's nervous energy; gotta do gotta go when do I pay mentality that the place breeds. He also captured the social moments of the time and shares his all-consuming love of baseball. Shaiken has a dry sense of humor, and he's not afraid to make fun of himself. I laughed out loud quite a few times, But then he decides to become a lawyer and gets trapped…or does he?  


The book is very well written and edited. A lot of time was put into this, and it shows. The structure is linear and captures snapshots in the life of a free-spirited boy who becomes caged by a suit and tie in the corporate world of bankruptcy law. He soon realizes that his career affords him none of the personal growth and freedom that he pines for. But on the flip side, his legal career allows him to feed his family, pay his mortgage, enjoy status and prestige. You'd think by the way he talks that he believes he sold his soul to the devil and missed the opportunity to become something other. But it seems to me that he didn't get that bad of a deal.


Over the years, he discovers that his bottom nature - the kid that liked reading Superman comics, played the guitar, wore his hair like George Harrison, and burned his draft card in 1974, has been trapped in a world he constructed for reasons he never questioned have become an unacceptable way of life. No, he didn't have to give back all the money he earned as a lawyer and take a drive into the abyss. That job paid for the comforts of his predetermined strategized exit. Courageous, it was not.


All readers will enjoy this. Even if you are not a lawyer, Shaiken has a way of taking you through the details of how the law works in ways that are interesting and educational without all the lawyerly hocus-pocus. 


There are, however, some things I wanted Shaiken to explore. The big elephant in the book. Over 18 years, his parents moved him into over 18 homes and a plethora of apartments. That kind of behavior is unheard of even in foster children. Something was going on. It does not take a genius to know that this lifestyle is a blueprint for creating lifelong trauma in a child. There's the story. Why would parents do this? What were they running from or to? Did this heighten Shaiken's desire for freedom? Is that why he kept himself in the suit, to avoid asking these questions. It's a good thing he's got time on his hands to start exploring because there is a lot more going on here than just a grab for freedom.


There is a secret worth telling; you see, freedom has a consequence, and one that requires courage. Getting free is one thing living free is an entirely different matter; that space requires a writer to peer under the rocks in one's life where the darkness and uncomfortable moments live and bring them to the light. Only then can one claim freedom but just for a moment because the next rock must be dug up, and it is usually deeper than the first. It's a good thing Shaiken can take his skills as a writer, use his newfound freedom and step up to the plate and create that New York Times Bestseller because there is a lot more going on here than just a grab for liberty.


I would advise heightening the atmosphere with more colors and smells. Definitely add more Jewish cultural components: events, food, history. Also, watch out for repetitive words – the word contemplation is used five times in one paragraph at one point. I think that the writing style could do well in the thriller/detective genre.

Reviewed by

I have an M.A in Eng Lit, a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the National Writers Union. I like defined character archs and plot structures. You will receive a honest review. "We are not here to race one another to the top but to keep others from falling down." Kayhallny@gmail

Synopsis

Forty-one years of a life in the law, and then, one day, no more law. Just like that. Many law students and attorneys never actually want to be attorneys. They spend hours exploring ways to leave the practice of law. Did I always want to be an attorney living the law firm life? Heavens, no! With humor and self-deprecation, poignancy and bite, this book presents observations on my life before the law, my forty-one years in the law, and my life after I left. This is my story of my career pivot from law to service in the not for profit world. If you're a law student or an attorney; if you know an attorney, if you live with an attorney, if you are friends with an attorney, if you are curious about attorneys, and if you hire attorneys, if you are stuck in any career you would like to leave, you will find this book an entertaining read of how one attorney finally dreamed his way into his law afterlife.

Foreword

I was an attorney for a very long time. Now I am not. This is a collection of compositions about what my life was like before and during my law life, and after my law life ended (what I call my afterlife). That period after three years as a law student, two years as a bankruptcy law clerk, and thirty-six years as a practicing bankruptcy attorney at large law firms, including a fourteen-year stint when also I taught bankruptcy law to law students at the University of Kansas at the same time I practiced law. Forty-one years of a life in the law, and then, one day, no more law. Just like that.

The compositions are a selection from the many verses of my life’s songs written and played in the live concert that has been my existence before, during, and after the law. I like to dream. To dream: the transitive verb, to think of the possibilities. For me, possibilities other than a life in the law. The law got in the way of dreaming. It resisted me and fought me. The compositions address my dreams... perhaps to dream my way out of the law life.

In my thirty-six years of working in law firms, as I reserved the right to seek greener pastures, I saw things, felt things, laughed at things, cried at things, loved things, despised things, and became resigned to things. I have selected some of those things, and present them in the coming essays. Nothing I have written here is about a particular law firm, attorney, or person. Think of these essays as a mixed pot-luck stew of things that happen in any and every law firm, especially the large ones, where I resided for my career. My views truly are therefore firmless, regionless, attorneyless, associateless,partnerless, clientless, colleagueless, managementless, and sometimes even thoughtless. My views sometimes drove my family crazy, oftentimes drove my friends crazy, and almost always drove my colleagues crazy, and left me a bit crazed for extended periods.

Each essay explains my perspective and offers my observations. Sometimes, they are my thoughts on my life. Sometimes, they are my thoughts on my life as an attorney. Sometimes, the two are not easily distinguished.

Life as an attorney taught me to enjoy being busy, so in the afterlife, I am very busy, but I no longer give out legal advice, write briefs, go to court, make oral arguments, call witnesses to the stand, cross-examine witnesses, and deal with my law partners on a day-to-day basis. I do not like the word “retire,” because there is no “retirement” for me – rather, I chose to do many other things, such as that I smile a great deal. I swear less. I spent a great deal of my law life not necessarily making the world a better place. Now I try to make the world a better place, little by little, day by day, person by person, project by project, cause by cause, and I hope I am making up for lost time. As Vincent Van Gogh said, “I would rather die of passion than of boredom.” In my law life, while I wasn’t bored, I lacked passion or at least if I had it, I eventually lost it. Now I have passion, and there is no boredom in my afterlife. The afterlife is a good deal for me... so far. More on that as you get to know me better.

Take note: this is not a “how-to” book. I am not qualified to tell the world how to decide to become an attorney, how to be an attorney, how to stop being an attorney, or how to use a law degree to become something other than an attorney in a law firm. There are many such books for sale, and I have consumed more than a few of those in my decades as a practicing attorney. It is not a book advising anyone to be – or avoid being – an attorney. Again, not qualified. I am only qualified to tell my story of what it has been like for me. Finally, this is not a tell-all book to call out specific attorneys and law firms. Not my style, and not how I feel about most of the attorneys with whom I worked or any of the law firms where I spent my career. For continuity, I have chosen to call the job “attorney,” rather than lawyer, counselor, Juris Doctor, advocate, barrister, or counsel. I needed one word,and attorney fits the bill. With only a very few exceptions, I try to be gender-neutral.

The book is organized into five parts: six, short questions I have been asked frequently by friends and family as my book endeavor became more widely known, followed by writings on my life before the law, my decision to go to law school and the law school experience, my life as a practicing attorney, and my life since I stopped being an attorney. The compositions are presented in different formats throughout the book. Some are straightforward essays; some are presented in the form of short stories that are based on fact, but names and places have been fictionalized to protect the privacy of any particular person. And some are presented as fictionalized dialogues... think of these compositions as my law-related parables to express my view.

About the author

Listen or watch Mark discuss his path into and out of the law on these podcasts: Empower Humans https://lnkd.in/gfsXCsT and The Authors Unite Show https://lnkd.in/gBzrBNT Mark lives with his wife Loren and Emily the dog in Denver, Colorado. He schooled at Haverford College and Washburn Univers... view profile

Published on April 20, 2020

Published by

90000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Career Guides

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