I’m really excited to be a contributor to Lawyerist. Law is a tough, often grueling, profession, and it’s not that easy to survive in that world. I should know. I’ve been laid off or fired from 4 of the 5 firms for which I worked, which is a big reason why I’m now a comic and a formerly unhappy lawyer.

Because of my experience, I know firsthand the range of issues faced by lawyers who are downsized, outsourced, laid off, fired, or canned. I know too what it feels like when you haven’t been let go, but you’re dealing with issues of career stagnation, dissatisfaction and metaphysical angst about whether to continue practicing law or not. And, most of all I know that when you’re in one of those two positions you can feel paralyzed by fear—all kinds of fear, but mostly fear of the unknown, fear of what happens when your career as a lawyer comes to a stop or ends completely, and the professional identity you’ve had for years ceases to exist.

The good news is that there’s a survival guide like Lawyerist to provide you with insights and resources to help you reinvigorate your legal career, help you get up off the mat after you’ve lost your job, or help you make that final bold leap, relinquish your fear, and leave the law altogether to chase your dream.

Whatever your situation and whichever path you choose, I sincerely hope that my posts will provide you with information and inspiration that will help empower you to make bold, proactive, life-affirming decisions. I know that I ultimately did, and it has made all the difference.

After 14 years in private practice (12 as a plaintiffs’ class action and mass torts litigator), I chose to transition from a career as a lawyer to a career as a comic. This was a decision with substantial risk, and, as all lawyers know, lawyers are not in the risk business. We hate risk. We loathe it. We despise it, because risk doesn’t have rules. It doesn’t follow regulations. It doesn’t adhere to norms. Risk has consequences that are unpredictable. And, if there’s one thing you can say about lawyers, they love rules, regulations, norms and predictability.

But, it wasn’t for me. And, not for lack of trying. I did all the things people do: BA in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania, J.D. from St. John’s University Law School and 14 years in private practice. And, I wasn’t happy. So, I chose what was behind door number two. And, I haven’t looked back. I’ve performed comedy all over the country, been featured in the Wall Street Journal and in CNN.com, and I’ve written about my experience as a lawyer turned comic in various media outlets, including the New York Daily News.

Now, I’ve been given the great honor and opportunity to write for Lawyerist. With each post I will share my story, my experience and what I’ve learned in hopes that it will help you. I also hope to provide you with a few laughs along the way.

If you are so inclined, please write in to ask questions, to comment or simply to share your story. My experience has taught me that there are a lot of lawyers out there who are grappling with the big question about what to do about their career and whether to continue or not. Meeting those people, hearing their stories, definitely will help lessen the fear you may be feeling. And, as you overcome your fears, you’ll be able to make decisions that empower you.

2 responses to “Alex Barnett, Lawyerist Contributor”

  1. Susan Gainen says:

    Welcome, Alex, and congratulations on finding a new path. Your advice to students and lawyers will be invaluable, because you have been in awful places and found a much, much better one!

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