AmyImpellizzeri95

Sandra Day O’Connor: Jurist, Pioneer, and Lawyer Interrupted

With the news coming last week that Sandra Day O'Connor is stepping away from public life, much has been written about her brilliant legal mind, her momentous career on the Supreme Court, and her robust life following retirement from the Court, including founding of the group, iCivics, which promotes civic education in schools through free, educational online games. Not surprisingly, much of the focus has been on O'Connor's pioneering legacy as the first woman Supreme Court Justice. Suprisingly, however, little has been made of the fact that she is nearly the last Supreme Court Justice mom.  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, known affectionately to…

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AmyImpellizzeri95

Try It Before You Buy It: Four Ways to “Try Out” a New Career

Lawyers are notoriously risk averse. This generalization makes them good at what they do. It also makes them bad at getting out.  When I speak to transitioning lawyers, I hear some of the same fears echoed back time and time again.  How can I leave without knowing for sure? What if I leave and I'm still unhappy? What else could I possibly do? I always start these conversations as I will here: with four ways to "try it before you buy it."  1) Join a Board.  Local non-profits, civic foundations, and even schools are often looking for new Board members.…

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AmyImpellizzeri95

Playing Craps with Senator McCain

Twenty years ago, I met Senator John McCain - not at a political rally, town hall meeting, or even a D.C. restaurant – but at a Craps table in Vegas. My husband and I were on a holiday from our demanding lives back home – no kids yet, but medical school for him, and a grueling litigation career for me, gave us reasons to escape every now and then. (My law firm salary also gave us a little disposable cash to squander at the casinos just for fun). We were walking through the table section of the then-newly-opened Bellagio Casino and we…

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AmyImpellizzeri95

An Investment - In Perspective

I speak to a lot of lawyers looking to transition from the practice of law, and recently I’ve realized that the most important message for those transitioning professionals is not that transition is indeed possible, but rather to manage the expectations surrounding the transition.  Here are some common responses I hear when I tell my story - now with the perspective of a decade away from the practice of law - nearly a decade since I last worked at Skadden Arps.  There’s got to be an easier way to make a living. I just need to find a job where…

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AmyImpellizzeri95

Tackling the Hard Stuff First ...

When I have a pile of items cluttering my inbox, or a long list of errands littering my To Do list, I often find myself tempted to knock out a bunch of easy items and save the laborious, difficult, thankless items for last. Do you do this? DO NOT DO THIS. And if you are thinking about how you will structure your career over the next 5, 10, or more years, then you really should not do this. To review, my career has been a winding path of 13+ years of corporate litigation, followed by a year in pro bono…

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AmyImpellizzeri95

Clearing Two Big Hurdles

When I visit Bar Conferences and Lawyers in Transition Committees around the country, I often hear the same two hurdles identified by potentially transitioning lawyers. How will I know who I am if I’m not a lawyer? (a/k/a the Identity Hurdle) How will I be able to afford NOT being a lawyer? (a/k/a the Financial Hurdle) I never dismiss either the Identity Hurdle or the Financial Hurdle. I acknowledge that both are real. But I’ve found that they are sort of tied up in each other and both are definitely surmountable. So, let’s be impolite. Let’s talk about money. Interestingly…

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AmyImpellizzeri95

Lawyer Interrupted: Settlement Negotiations

That was yesterday. Today is a new day. I was in the middle of a lengthy telephonic settlement negotiation with my adversary, and he didn’t seem to understand why his position has weakened. New discovery had been produced. Inconsistent fact deposition testimony had been elicited. An expert witness who couldn’t possibly survive a Daubert motion was still on the pre-trial report. I was trying to explain all of this when he asked why old (expired) settlement offers were no longer on the table. When all my reasoned legal analysis seemed lost on him, I succumbed to the “that was then,…

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AmyImpellizzeri95

Re-Defining Success (Or Maybe DEFINING it ... for the very first time)

From the beginning of time (or at least the first day of college!) I had exactly one professional goal in life – to be a lawyer. And not just any lawyer – a successful one. I wasn’t sure exactly what success would look like, but I knew this – I’d know it when I saw it. By 2009, I had been a corporate litigator for more than 13 years – nearly a decade of which had been spent at Skadden Arps. I had negotiated multi-million dollar settlements, and tried my first case before I was 30. I had won over…

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AmyImpellizzeri95

It’s February Bar Season. But It Doesn’t Matter If You Pass. No, Really.

Eighteen years ago this month, I was sitting for the Bar Exam in New York. I was already barred in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and had been practicing law in New Jersey and Philadelphia for several years, but still, the New York Bar Exam was sitting like a roadblock to my future that February.  Or so I thought.  I had just taken a new position in the Mass Torts Department of Skadden Arps in New York City. One of the Hiring Partners called me in December 1999 to convey the offer to me while I was sitting in my Newark,…

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AmyImpellizzeri95

Interview with Linda Mercurio, Esq., Founder of Transformative Impact

Linda Mercurio is the Founder of Transformative Impact, a company providing coaching, training, and consulting services to transitioning attorneys. From 2008-2016, Linda served as the Founding Executive Director of the American University Washington College of Law Lawyer Reentry Program - a program she designed and implemented. I've followed with admiration Linda's career path for some time now, and when I reached out recently to tell her so, she sent back a same time photo of her desk with my book, Lawyer Interrupted, atop her own "To Be Read" pile.  I love when life sends us those moments of impactful connection. You…

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